Tag Archives: mental health

When your body tells you time out is required…

23 Sep

It’s been a long year.

Scrub that.

It’s been an unbelieveably short but ridiculously full on year.

Seemingly weeks ago it was New Years Eve and now the Christmas ads are back on the TV and I’ve even started picking up the odd stocking filler.   Very early for me.  Usually I refuse to consider Xmas until after all our November birthdays.  Still, I have to accept it’s not been weeks but nine whole months since New Years Eve and it’s just gone in the blink of an eye.

It’s been fabulous to be fair, but now Hubby and I are reaching melting point.  Personally I feel pretty much physically and mentally broken.  And looking at Hubby (despite all attempts to put on a brave face and cope with everything I can’t), it’s pretty clear he’s in much the same place.

Image result for exhaustion

I’m at the point where everything is exhausting.  Even the fun stuff.  And we all know how I love the fun stuff.  But I’m so exhausted I’ve started declining party invitations (shock horror!).  The idea of doing anything at all can sometimes feel overwhelming.  Not so much the actual ‘Fun’ bit of the fun but the getting to and from the fun.  The travelling anywhere at all has become fun prohibitive.  I have got to the point where I miss out because I can’t face the journey.

A few weeks ago, I had a long trip to a social event .  I had stressed and cried and panicked about the journey.  500 mile round trip for an event I could not and did not want to decline.  But (and I know how melodramatic this sounds) the journey near broke me.  Nothing untoward happened. I travelled alone with the radio for company.  There were no road traffic incidents; just the usual delays and holdups you would expect entering towns and city and at major road junctions;  but the sheer number of hours on the road just wore me down .  Both physically and mentally.  I hurt for days after and my brain went into ‘essential processes only mode’.

The FUN between the two long journeys was fabulous , but the recovery from the travelling made me declare ‘NEVER AGAIN’.

Despite this, two weeks later we had to do the same journey, this time I had Hubby and Teen in tow.  I did none of the driving.  And the FUN between the travelling was truly the most fabulous of fun times (that being true even though I’m ‘Sober September-ing and Stoptober-ing… another day , another blog)

I can’t say the mental and physical trauma I felt was lessened by not having to take responsiblity for the driving.  I felt at least as terrible.  Physically I ached for days after from sitting for so long; body being ‘rattled’ by the movement of the car and the passing of the never-ending miles; head lolling from the dozing off etc.  Mentally it was exhausting and disorienting; the drifting in and out of consciousness into fitful sleep; the sudden awakening from a jolt, sharp braking, sudden lane change, impatient acceleration, road rage rant from Hubby; the hours of conversational silence but at the same time the constant white noise of road and traffic; and then the momentary panic when you open your eyes to find yourself seemingly hurtling towards the back-end of a lorry; or simply being somewhere completely different and not knowing where you are (how do little kids cope with this?!).  you get my drift.  Drifting in and out of sleep is a mind-fuck.  I just can’t handle it.

A friend of mine struggled for many years with quite severe ME.  Her brain would over-react to even the slightest stimulation.  Her body would cramp with pain to the slightest of exercise.  In order to get a decent nights sleep literally everything had to stop by about 8:30pm.  All the things I would think of as relaxing eg: watching a movie, listening to music, chatting on the phone with a friend.  Physically she had the same problem no leisurely walks, bike rides, train trips for her.  To visit me to recuperate would just be too much to consider.  The journey would physically debilitate her for days/weeks, that gentle rattling of the body  would render her bedbound.

I know I don’t have ME, and for that I am very grateful.  However, this friend, in her fight to manage her illness and recover some semblance of normality into her life, really did teach me a few valuable lessons.  Some years ago, on another occasion when I was far nearer the brink of life overwhelming me, I ‘ran away from home’ and hid out at her house.  I literally got in the car to pop to the shops and ended up driving 250  miles to her front door.  During those few days we often sat together for hours, in the garden or at the kitchen table; mostly in silence, with gathered windfall fruit and slowly peeled, chopped, cored.  It was her self-imposed mindfulness for her own wellbeing and it became my first experience of it.  The first time I ever gave myself permission to live just for that moment and no other.  To sit there and just be.  without the guilt of ignoring the ‘to do list of life’.  Self imposed mental recovery.

These days I recognise the signs of impending meltdown.  Usually before it’s too late and, usually, I find the time and space to do something about it.  And usually that something only needs to be an afternoon, a day, an early night, a long bath, a vocalisation, an admittance, a cancelling of an activity, a reality check with Hubby.

Hubby who is a marvel always recognises my need even before I do, and has prepared for it, made space for it.  Usually  I can (almost) guilt free allow him to take up my slack and not feel (too) guilty for being a wuss and a light weight.  Generally I can accept my need to stop for a bit and have learnt to see this recognition as a strength not a weakness.  Generally he will just take up the slack and cover for me.  And, (trust me Hubby if you are reading this), that part of our partnership is so very highly valued, I recognise it and love him for it.

However this year.  Right now.  I can tell that he too needs to stop.  We both need to seek out the silence and still our minds.  Find ourselves.  Find each other.  We both need a few days without agenda.  when we can go or not go; do or not do; talk or not talk.  We both need to lock away our ‘to do list of life’ and wallow in a period of free (non) thinking….

So our challenge is to find a gap big enough to make this happen…….

…….

Image result for time for a holiday

I wrote the blog above yesterday, in the old analogue way, long hand on paper with a pen as I live fairly remotely and in some places there simply is no internet access.  Because of it, I came home and whilst sitting with the intention of typing it up,I instead found myself searching for time out options.  We needed a break but I couldn’t cope with a lot of travel… within hours I’d booked us a 4 night break in Rome travelling from the local (Cardiff) airport and its only 11 days away!!!!!  The simple act of writing about the need made me truly see the need and act on it, so thank you blog community.  The relief of making the booking has in itself taken the strain out of the every day…I am already more relaxed  just knowing it’s happening so soon.  …As for Hubby, I can safely say he is as excited as I am…..

Lucy At Home

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…After the crash..

23 Apr

So yesterday I literally did nothing. I managed to get up and feed my B&B guests complete with smiling and chatting . Then I went back to bed. I slept until nearly 2pm… Despite Hubby trying to wake me at noon. I stayed awake long enough to reheat a cup of tea in the microwave. Sat on the front doorstep in the sun and fell asleep. Woke briefly when Hubby popped home. Long enough to get a pillow and a deck chair. Then slept in the sun.

Stayed awake to eat supper, fell asleep in front of TV. Had an early night and slept right through.

This was me crashing… I refer to my blog from yesterday … Oh yes I did find a moment or two to articulate my crash in blog form.. but that really was the extent of yesterday’s activities.

So today I am already three gardening jobs behind, racked with guilt and stressed by my backlog.

I sat down this evening, knackered and aching from head to toe. As I berated myself for my pathetic state I announced to myself “for Christ’s sake woman you only did 3 hours work today, get a grip”…. Long pause as I’m now lying in bed. This was my day:

Woke 7:30. Got up and prepped breakfast for our 6 B&B guests

Placed an order with our stained glass suppliers

Did 3 hours heavy digging and weed clearing.

Drove the 20 miles to our nearest  supermarket. Did the weekly shop

Collected our son

Unpacked shopping

Spent an hour tidying in my own garden

Had a bath

Cleaned the bathroom

Made a roast dinner…

… So to be fair, considering my physical and mental state… In fact, irrespective of my physical and mental state, today was pretty full.

..And now I can add, ‘wrote a blog’, to my achievements for today.

On that note, I am going to turn of the light and zzzzzzzzzzzz

It’s real but it’s not reality…..

11 Mar

menopause 5
I can feel myself slipping. Like I’m in a Banksy installation. “Un-fair”

I’m on the helter-skelter… only it’s slide is not very slippery  so some moments I’m slipping slowly down and in others  I’m grabbing the edge and bumping myself further down by force.  Not only am I slowly heading down the spiral but the spiral ends in a dark pit of sticky clay so should I get to the bottom by feet will quickly be caked and I’ll be fighting to wade my way back out.

There’s  a sombre inevitability about it. I’m on the ride and gravity suggests the easiest option is to keep on the ride.

But it’s  a shit ride and I want to climb off.

But do I ride the spiral and try to get off at the bottom? I don’t like the claggy thick clay. It’s really tough to wade through and I’m not sure I have the physical strength to do it.

The other option is to stand up on the unslippery slide and walk back up the slope, like a teenager in a kids playground. Declare the ride ‘crap’ and come back down the steps into my Spring garden which I know is just the other side of the gate. Resplendent with tete-a-tete,  daffodil, crocus, snowdrop, primrose and camellia all in full glorious bloom. I need to get back to my Monet.

At the moment I’m wedged a third of the way down this narrow slide and my too fat frame is friction-wedged against the rough metal. It’s a choice. Push down or pull up.

That . My, friends, is the beginning. I’ve been stuck in this bloody Un-fair for days and nights.

menopauseSo I’m stuck in an unreal reality. My head is showing me a gloomy backdrop which is blocking the real view. Some bastard has messed with my mirrors. It’s another exhibit in my Banksy Un-Fair. All the mirrors create a body dismorphic reality. My face is a Jackson Pollok. It’s me but it’s not ME .

I know what I’m seeing and feeling is not reality, but that doesn’t make it any less REAL.

If you suffer from depression , anxiety  or hormone related emotional imbalances (and many of you do, I know I’m far from unique) then perhaps you can relate to this.

I’m sad. I’m angry. I’m guilty. I’m frightened. Shall I ramble on? If I haven’t bored you to press the ‘back’ button yet the next chunk of self-indulgent morose rambling may just tip you over the edge.

So here I am in my rose-tinted world still yet, this week, I’m entangled in this heavy thick net from which I am desperately trying to extract myself but it’s becoming such a tangle I’m all tied up and tripping in the chaos of it.

menopause 4

I can see John out there trying to free me from it. I can hear him telling me to stop struggling as I’m making the tangle tighter. He’s trying to unknot me so I can squeeze out through a gap. I keep managing to get an arm out and he and friends are pulling  and holding onto me to stop me getting more entangled.

For that I am simultaneously grateful for the wonderful people around me. Sad, at the worry I’m causing. Guilty about being so pathetically self-indulgent. Angry that this has happened, to varying degrees, since I was a teen and still the medical profession fail to recognise or deal with women’s hormonal cycles. Never has a doctor suggested, acknowledged or acted on the obvious fact that I clearly have both a monthly and a quarterly spiral. Never.

So. I am grateful to you all for being.  I’m apologetic to you all for the lack of rosy-tint in these latest posts. And I am hopeful that the act of writing it (as grey and gloom filled as it is) will give my mind the strength it needs to lift itself up and drag my being back up the slope and so I can climb off this shitty ride.. .

cropped-red-hair.jpg

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

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Honestly i’m not a psycho bitch…

9 Mar

Note to self. At least 2 days prior to your period and until that moment of release ( readers you may recognise this switch moment in your own cycle) … until that moment, try your absolute best..  in fact, lock yourself in without access to social media, phones or people… Give someone else the key.. do not socialise, or communicate.. you can not be trusted to be rational or civil. Recognise you are a danger to your own sanity.  That you are likely to cause, at best, mild upset or offense to someone you care about.  Your brain has no control over your emotions; you overreact; you self-doubt; you lose confidence and competence.; you become intolerant and strike out. You cannot control this despite the talking to that you give yourself and despite the knowledge that if you gave it 48 hours normal responses and attitudes would prevail. You have now warned yourself. Let this be your reminder. Avoid human contact and keep your head down……

… as ever this sound advice fails to get actioned. Partly because sometimes commitments prevent isolation. Sometimes because no sane person is brave enough to suggest you’re not in the right mind to be allowed contact with the public.

So. Should you be one of the unfortunate ones who is on the receiving end of a 48hr madness of mine, I can but apologise profusely and hope that you know me well enough to know that I cannot help the temporary insanity my hormones induce every 28 days.

Normal service will be resumed shortly….

i’m crazy-mad with anger, frustration and confusion….

15 May

I can’t effing believe anything!! My head is fucking screaming.  I feel like I’m going crazy.  Seriously WHAT THE FUCK!!!!

minor operation Monday morning last.  sinuses.  no big deal.  Twenty minutes under a general anesthetic.  Discharged the next morning.  Warned of occasional nose bleeds.  Handed a batch of pain relief meds, some swabs, a letter for my doctor, advice on how to ‘nasal douche’, and told to not do anything too strenuous for a couple of weeks.

Okey dokey. Piece of piss.

WRONG!

WHO THE FUCK forgot to mention , never mind understated, the after effects of general anesthetic.  Even the little bitty one I had.  FOR FUCKS SAKE!  Excuse the bloody swearing but I’m down-right furious with paralysis of my brain.  I mean where the fuck has it gone?  I feel trippy(I imagine ). psychotic (i imagine), schizophrenic (i imagine), confused, lost, scared, sick and down right INEPT.

I can’t bloody function!!  I’ve turned into a MAN (sorry – now about to offend 50% of the population). BUUUUT, single track , single task ,single-minded (at best) brain function completely and utterly SUCKS.

Its shit.  Honestly – I can’t even make foUr people breakfast at the same time. GRRRRRRR

Honestly.  I feel light-headed.  I feel confused.  I’m having nightmares. hallucinations.  I can’t work out what I’ve done and what I’ve imagined (dreamt ) I’ve done.  Night sweats. I have moments when i can only describe as ‘out of body’..  I can’t focus. The frustration is driving me insane.  Or has the anesthetic driven me insane.  I know I was a bit quirky before.  But Christ I could do one thing and think about something else.  I could fry an egg and microwave some bloody baked beans at the same time.  This is SIX DAYS.  several somebodies cheered me up by suggesting it could be MONTHS until ‘normality ‘ resumed.

why don’t they tell you?!?!  NHS listen up . THIS IS A MASSIVE BIG DEAL.  ITS A LIFE STOPPER. A GAME CHANGER. A MIND FUCKER.  PREPARE PEOPLE FOR IT. FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!!!!  AAARRRGGHHHHHHHHHHH

Sickness, Stress and Self-doubt… And Then There’s Me….

19 Apr

I was invited by Stigma Fighters to write my essay…..
…i though I couldn’t..
…but once I started I couldn’t not..

I hope it will not phase you if you know me; or upset you, if you love me.  I hope it will give you strength.  I hope if you struggle at times you will realise we all do to different degrees and the ‘curtains’ we open to the outside are not always representative of all the ‘rooms in our home’. Life is multi-faceted and challenging to all of us at times… even those who might give the impression that it is easy…

so here it is… from head to e-paper..
Sickness, Stress and Self-doubt… And Then There’s Me….

Self-doubt, stress and sickness

30 Mar

Sometimes its possible to just feel ‘not quite right’, not sick as such just ‘out of sorts’ .  If , like me, you suffer from anxiety based illnesses it’s possible (I find, as I can only talk from experience), to find it difficult to judge whether you are ‘sick’ or feeling ‘down’ and as such, feel sick.  That doesn’t mean that ‘down’ is not a valid sickness, it’s just whether the symptoms derive from the anxiety or from something else like a virus or bug or allegy or something more sinister.

This whole week I’ve felt sick. Really tired, thick head, wheezy.  I’ve not been sick or rushing to the loo but my stomach is definitely very upset.  It gurgles and complains constantly.  Its windy and acidy and intolerent of anything it receives (gross, graphic and not particularly lady-like, sorry!).  Now I know I have a small hiatus hernia (very common , nothing to worry about), I also know I have to take medication for acid reflux and in the past have been treated for an oesophagal ulcer.  I also aware that when I overdo it I ‘fade’.  I kind of shut down.  I don’t want to go out, I can’t face work and my brain struggles to focus.  My head and body feel weighed down and sluggish.

Whatever the ‘real’ reason, the facts are that my head aches, I’m tired.  I’ve slept every afternoon this week and most of yesterday.  My stomach is genuinely ‘not right’.  But would I feel better if I just got out there and weeded someones garden a bit (as a job not just for the hell of it!); or got out my sketch pad and started producing drawings for the commissions I have waiting; or started cutting glass for a commission already agreed; or did my tax return; or got my head around the catering order for next weeks Sunday lunch… Maybe just the list is too long and I need to breathe and focus…..

….Or maybe I do really just need to go and have another little lie down

So, why do I feel a ‘fraud’ when I feel ‘sick’?  I think its because my feelings of wellness and my drive and enthusiasm and focus swing wildly from day to day; sometimes morning to afternoon; and sometimes I know to work through it and I do and its fine.  Sometimes I think I know to work through it and I do and its not fine I go into a decline.  SOMETIMES I make the descision that its a bug and rest and then wonder if I’d feel better if I just got on with it and the slouching around is a catalyst for feeling more ‘sick’.

So the question is, is it just me or is it you too?  Do you worry about these things?  When do you know it’s ‘sick’ and time to see a doctor, or ‘sick’ and recognising the need to slow down? Or ‘sick’ and you just need to give yourself a good kick up the backside?

dont’t worry its only a Haiku….

3 Mar

Thank you @YeahWrite1 and @LiveBySurprise, because of you both I am writing my first haiku…. and following from my blog of last week “Don’t Worry Its Just PMT, ”

 

Period Pains by Berni

Angry. Clumsy clot…

Dulled mind. Aching head to toe

More blood, sweat and tears

 

 

Dont worry, its just PMT…

25 Feb

I suffer from PMT

I’m not alone, there are millions of us who do.

Symptoms vary.

I’m 48 now (shock horror, how the hell did that happen).  Alongside PMT I now get hot sweats… the start of the menopause, but still all the joys of monthly bleeding, cramps and emotional distress..

Its taken me until now to really realise what is happening(to me)

Every month this happens:

  • I get anxious – to varying degrees
  • My boobs become  painful
  • My skin flairs up, it itches, gets spotty, gets drier in some places, greasier in others
  • I could eat the entire contents of a sweet shop and still want more
  • I become intolerent (more so!)
  • I get clumsy and accident prone
  • I becomer more forgetful

Every 3rd or 4th month some or all of these symptoms are worse

  • I am so anxious I can’t function
  • My boobs are so tender they hurt when I walk or turn in my sleep.  My bras hurt – on or off.
  • My skin is so inflamed I can’t hide it with makeup, I need antibiotic cream on prescription to abate it
  • I’m not safe behind a wheel as my spacial awareness is shot… driving is a really bad idea
  • I break things by missing the counter top or knocking into things
  • I become so tired and at the same time sleepless that I cannot function ‘in the real world ‘ for a day
  • oh… and the blinding migraines that make me vomit and vomit and vomit

The medical system does not recognise PMT properly, for me its a disabilitating condition at least 4 times a year… I cannot drive to work, I cannot hold a meeting, engage in a debate, have a balanced conversation.  When I worked in an office and covered a territory by car this illness both physical and mental had a profound impact on my attendance and performance.

For years and years and years I’ve had individual symptoms treated.  I’ve discussed with the doctor (various doctors) that I felt many of my problems were hormonal or exacerbated by hormones.  NEVER. Not once did any of them, male or female acknowledge, discuss, or access this as a possibility.

I’m not alone.

I’m not even an extreme exception.

Why is all so difficult?

How are you affected ?  What are your experiences with your doctor? Or Employer?

 

Helpless with the homeless

19 Jan
how can we help?

homelessness, hopelessness

So. How do you react when you pass a homeless person?

Avoid eye contact?  Feel embarrassed? Feel helpless? Offer a sympathetic glance? Cross the street?  Give cash?  Strike up a conversation? Report him/her? Buy him a coffee? Feel offended?

Today I had the luxury of two hours of time-wasting and coffee drinking with my partner in central Cardiff before an appointment.  We were strolling along happy and carefree.  Laughing I expect.  Holding hands.  A young lad, maybe in his mid 20’s is sat on a dirty duvet in a shop doorway. Rucksack by his side, blanket on his legs. Teardrop tattoo by his right eye.  He looks sad.  Freezing.

By the time I see him I am in the process of crossing the road away from him.  I catch myself looking at him and turn away… I’m embarrassed.  It looks like (to whom I don’t know), I’m crossing the road to avoid him.  My mood changes.  I feel sad.  Helpless.  Embarrassed.  I tell my partner I want to go and get him something warm.  We turn around and walk back to the market.  I avoid eye contact with the pathetic looking lad.

Having purchased a cup of hot soup we head back.  I say to John, “what if loads of people have bought him food or drink and he doesn’t want it”

“At least it will keep his hands warm for a bit” says John, “but I doubt it”.

Poor lad, sat there in the drizzle, a lost soul, invisible in the commercial, consumerist chaos and greed surrounding him.  I feel guilty for the money I spent on a meal out the evening before.

“You look freezing love, here’s something to warm you up”

He looks terribly sad and quite confused.  Has he been crying?  “My mum’s just died” he says

I ask how he knows.

“I go to the library every Monday and use the public phone”

We continue to chat. Another person arrives and hands him a roll and a coffee.  Asks if she can help.

I don’t know if his story is true.  I don’t even know if he knows.  But I’m told his mum has died since his last call.  His son is at school, he doesn’t know what to say to him.  His mum is his son’s legal guardian.  He’d been in prison because of some incident of violence and he needs to get to Caerphilly where his mum and son are.  He tells me he asked the police to take him there but they told him not to waste their time.

So.  What should you, or would you, do at this point?  More cash?  Some sympathy?  Walk away?  Find a policeman?  We don’t know how to react do we?   We’re not trained for this.  There’s no manual we can refer to.

I offered to take him to the station and buy him a ticket.  In my mind this is the obvious solution.  I would have ‘done my bit’, I could feel right with the world again.  I am so saddened by my helplessness in the situation and of his plight.  It’s embarrassing to admit it makes me feel uncomfortable and its put a bit of a damper on my day.

Anyway, it’s all too much for him.  He can’t get his head around his options.  He thinks he should stay put for a bit and try to get some money.  Talk to his aunt who’ll be by after schools out.  As I said before, he’s confused.  Whether or not the story is real is irrelevant, he believes it and his heart is breaking.  Well mine is.

So? What would you do now?  Say ‘Ok’ and move on?  Try and persuade him that your help is the right option? Report him? Give money?  What is the etiquette here?

I offer to come back in an hour with the car and if he wants a lift and a ticket I’d get him one.

As we walk off he calls after us ” you will come back and check won’t you?”  “Of course”, says I.  “I promise”.

I wonder at the chain of life events that has resulted in this point of time.  At the pain and sadness, trials and tribulations he and his family and friends may have endured.  A small part of me is angered by this negative intrusion into my rose-tinted world. Another small part of me is ashamed of that.

We do go back.  I have John driving down the taxi only lanes and parking in the disabled bay so I can get to near him. So he can see the offer is genuine.  Its been about 40 minutes since the food, soup, coffee, chat.

But he doesn’t think he should come.  Not yet.  He should wait.  Who knows what for.  I’m sure he is struggling to grasp his thoughts.  I’m not sure about his reality.  I want to give him a cwtch.  Should I?   All I can think about is how vulnerable and small he looks.  I hesitate.  But I don’t offer the cuddle.  I also don’t offer cash.  Even though he asks for the latter.

I’m reluctant, but I walk off back to the car. “Thanks anyway” he calls.

I wish I’d offered the cwtch.  I wonder what he’d have done with the cash.