Are you ready for this?

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Location: United Kingdom

Yes...this is ALL about me, and mine. Marvellously self indulgent, feel free to tell me how splendid I am, leave comments, nice ones please, I have little kids and teenagers who can do the rude stuff. I am a grandma, to the glorious Joshua, I'm allowed to look frazzled and weary, I earned it. The older I get, the more I see that hanging on and being patient is worth it! They ( whoever 'they' are) are so right when they say you never know what is around the corner, it isn't always an articulated truck! It is vital to make the time for making memories, friends are the greatest treasure, I love mine. I am rich!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bring it on, just be gentle.

Oh, Hi! Hello! It's me. ME, the actual me. The one I used to be, back in the day when I could think and see things, when I could discern real from unreal, when things were hilarious and boring, sad and ordinary. All those different emotions in one, who knew how great they were, way back when I took them all for granted. When I would walk through town as though this was something everyone did, wandering in and out of shops without digging my fingers until they bled.
I'm back. Like some kind of glorious and unexpected miracle, by the power of medicinal marvellousness I am here. 
Thank you Lord and Doctor R.
I have been ridiculously thrilled by things like being able to walk around a supermarket and look at what the shelves hold.
Walking from a car park to shops without a master plan of where to go, what to buy and how quickly I can retreat to the safety of my car again.
Waking up and realising that this feeling I have is a good mood, right from the get go, first thing in the morning, really...just like that!
Nothing else has changed, we still don't have anywhere to live, we still have no idea where we will be this time next month or the month after but now that is, as is should be, a worry that we will deal with when we need to, as we learn we have to leave this one, we'll deal with where we will go.
Actually, something has changed. Elijah is headed back to school and oh I had no idea how worried I was about homeschooling him until he said he wanted to go back  to school and H agreed. I loved having him  home for the first 9 months, then it seemed we got tired of each other's company all day every day. I am not a teacher, I never said I was a teacher, I never wanted to be a teacher and suddenly, I was a teacher. H did a lot of the homeschooling to start with and then I realised he was spending less time as a teacher/dad and I stepped in, between us we did a good job with what we have and having checked out how a few other homeschoolers do it, I think we did a really good job.
* Startling generalisation ahead*
I have had a bit of a mental image of people who home school, crunchy is the main descriptive word that springs to mind, all home baked goods and long knotty hair, mismatched stripey socks and a fierce determination that precious babies should never be made to do anything that makes them unhappy.
I am so not one of those people but never mind, we were up for this! Eli was sad at school and we had to take him out and teach him at home, build his confidence, teach him how to learn and we did that. I will admit that as time passed I became more grumpy about it and H became less enthusiastic about it and Elijah most definitely became less attentive, happy, co-operative and nice. Oh he so forgot nice, my Eli the nicest of nice children, that smiley little chap who buffoons his way through the day was a feisty little door kicker.
He didn't like Seth and he was cross at his used to be best friend Isaac, he has kicked and thrown and wobbled and sighed and none of us has had any fun for a few weeks.
I like my own company, I used to be happy just going out and doing whatever I felt like doing, meeting friends, not meeting friends, shopping or driving or just being here reading and cleaning.
I lost that, I had this little boy here who needed his day filled with not just company and fun but IMPORTANT stuff, learning stuff, informative and developing stuff and the responsibility of that is HUGE. I wasn't worried particularly about the here and now, that was working, he is reading and writing and learning times tables, he was making and building, going with H to the allotment and making Cob walls, like they used to back in the day. He was digging and planting and climbing and running, we have been to the zoo and the moors, the airport and the beach. We have looked at and learned and written and remembered, charted and journalled and all was fine. For now.
I couldn't help but keep creeping into the future and as we prepare Seth for the grammar school in September, as we watch his excitement and begin Isaac's  preparations for the same journey, I would look at the little boy left here with us and wonder 'what about him?' He is so different to Seth and Isaac, I can't imagine him ever going to a grammar school, that's not a 'he's not as smart' comment, it's a mother knowing her child. He is more like Dan and Jordan and I imagine that he will be like them and decide what he wants to do and then go for it, do what needs doing and do it beautifully.
Whether he goes to the grammar school or not isn't the point, what worried me was doing something that would scupper his chance to choose.
So the other day, when Isaac was poorly and had the day home from school, he and Eli were inseparable all day, just like old times, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon Eli said, as he leaned against Isaac "What am I feeling? Oh, I know. I'm not lonely sometimes, I am lonely ALL the time...would it be a happy thing to go back to school?"
YES! Yes it would indeed!

Eli has been a delightful happy chappy ever since, he has a great teacher next year and is thrilled that he will be in Alfie's class. I can't help but think of the time H and I will have to do the things we like to do. To clean the house and have it stay that way for 6 hours, to hand over all that responsibility of schedules and lesson plans, of projects and plans to the teachers and to go back to being the supporter in all that stuff.
I may be so excited that I have already bought his school uniform!
Excited....did you read that? Excited, how long since I had any emotion other than sadness or fear? I am so grateful to feel better, I don't even care that meds are to thank, just the fact that I feel better, that I can think clearly again and see there is hope and all is not bleak. I felt as though I was walking under filthy water, thick, dirty, stagnant water. I love being back in the fresh air and being able to hold my head up again.
Now I can get on and do what needs doing. I just hope the universe is kind to me..... bring on the good stuff. Please.  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Let's not go there again.

This morning, I woke up at 11 o'clock and I did not feel utter despair.
Look at that sentence, one little sentence that means something so huge I can barely think how to start explaining. It has been so long since I woke up feeling anything but complete and overwhelming sadness that I almost didn't understand what was happening this morning.
For longer than I care to remember, each morning as I wake up I would surface from whatever kind of disturbed sleep I had been having and almost immediately I am swamped with a sinking misery at the thought of starting another day, with almost a pleading thought of wishing it wasn't true.
I used to try and shake that feeling off, take a deep breath and mentally pull myself together and get on with it. Slowly that got harder and harder to do and eventually, a few months ago I was unable to do anything more than not cry, stand up and drag myself down to do what needed doing.
This morning, when I woke up and I opened my eyes I knew something had changed, to start with I had slept for 9 hours straight. Nine hours, oh my goodness. Nine solid hours of dream free, proper sleep. That is enough to make most things seem easier to deal with but I knew something else was happening.
After my terrifying foray into suicidal thoughts I knew I had to get more help, I went straight to my lovely and patient doctor who listened to me ( again) and so kindly said ' Helen, please don't believe those things you were thinking, you are the best mother your children could ever ask for and only you can be that, I know they love you, I know Howard needs you and I know that they would never get over it if anything happened to you" and then she said " You don't believe me, do you? I can see you don't believe me but it is true and if ever you start to think that way again, call someone, anyone and get them to come to you"
As she was speaking I saw that she meant what she said, I knew she believed it and I knew that I couldn't take my own life....and all I felt was sad and more trapped but I listened to her and I took the prescription for the new medicine and I listened to her instructions on how to taper off one and increase the new one and in my head I was hearing  "blah blah blah"
I took one new tablet in the morning and cut down to one of the old ones in the evening for a week, then I took 2 new ones in the morning and tried one night without the old one and that was a rough day, a miserably rough day, dizzy and headachey and the following day was one of lowest of low emotions. That day I tried one new med in the morning, one in the evening and no old medicine. I was awake all night but I didn't feel the same desperate misery the next day, so then I tried 2 new tablets in the morning and no old ones at all.
I think I have found the right balance.
I can feel that the new ones are starting to do what they are meant to do.
I still have unbelievable dizziness and also a low grade headache, which I am told may last for 2 or 3 weeks. The thought that in 2 weeks I can really feel alive again is so exciting.
I have acquired a whole new understanding of depression, I have thought I was depressed for 20 years but honestly, whatever that was was a walk in the park compared to this latest black hole of despair. I have felt as though I was trapped in a cage, able to see what was happening outside but completely unable to either care, or join in . Nothing but an echoing nothingness. The very worst part is feeling as though this is how it will always be, not having any belief that it can get better. That's what made me imagine that dying was the only way out, I understand why people give up and take that way out. I hope I never, ever feel so desperate again.
I did the ironing today, another tiny sentence that means so little until you look behind what I actually just wrote.
I looked at a pile of crumpled clothes and I got out my glorious Elna press and I sat for 2 hours and ironed them all. That basket or ironing has been in the middle of the kitchen for months. I take out what people need as they need it and I tut and sigh as I iron it, I hang clothes up without ironing it, I put clothes away without ironing them unless they are so crumpled that even I, in my bleak pit of misery can't pretend they will 'do' and then they go in the green laundry basket in the kitchen and I scowl at it every time I walk in there. I know lots of people don't iron, I have more friends who will admit to never using an iron than friends who do but the thing is I DO iron, I love crease free clothes, I love my Elna press, I can look at a mountain of newly pressed cotton pillowcases and feel actual for me to walk past a basket of clothes that need ironing is a huge misery flag that has been flapping in the face of pernickitiness for month after month. Bye bye crumpled bleakness, hello sharp creases and beautiful crisp pillowcases!
I feel like I have been let out in the fresh air after months of being shut under the stairs.

Unsurprisingly I had a letter to say that I scored ZERO in the govt medical, I have absolutely no reasons at all why I can't go to work full time, apparently. That means our benefits are cut down again and I either have to accept that or fight it, I can't even begin to imagine fighting it until I imagine not fighting and then I am so incensed that I can feel this way, have to live with this crippling and miserable depression and yet have some stranger tell me that all I have to do is pull myself together and stop faking it all, that is enough to make me want to go and face these people and make them understand what depression can do to a person.
Depression can take a perfectly normal, happy person and strip them of every ounce of joy, steal from them the ability to do even the most mundane and formerly taken for granted daily activity. Rip away the ability to shop, eat normally, sleep, speak. I have become expert at shopping in under 20 minutes. 20 minutes inside a supermarket seems to be my limit. Walk in, find what we need ( forget anything we may rather like) grab it, get to a check out and leave before the sweating, hyperventilating, leg trembling fear takes over.
I think ( though I secretly doubt) that I have managed to stand while people I know speak to me, if we meet unexpectedly in the street ( Oh no, ON NO! Please don't talk to me, please don't see me, please walk past me, please)   I think I may be quite good at  nodding in the right places and hiding the fact that in my head I am thinking " please stop talking, please go away, I can't answer you, I have nothing to say anymore, I am so dull, can you walk away now......thank you"
I am more tired that I imagine it possible to be, with all that thinking and more thinking and rethinking, the effort it takes to avoid people is exhausting in itself.
I am relieved to see a tiny chink of light at the end of that interminable tunnel.
I hope I am nearing the end of this particular trip, I don't care that drugs seem to be the vehicle that is taking me to the finishing line, I will take whatever works and most of all I will shout it from the rooftops when I get to the land of happiness and light. When I get there, I will step off the train, walk out onto the platform and say, as loudly as I can manage, " Let's not ever go there again."


Sunday, July 03, 2011

On being here.

This is a tough one and one that I would rather not write but I started this and so I owe it to me to keep a track of what is happening so I can look back and see what worked for me, or what didn't. What isn't working right now is the medicine they gave me. It's not working at all.
When my dad was 19, his dad committed suicide, my dad never recovered from that. He and his dad were very close, best friends, with mathematically brilliant like minds. They did everything together and grandpa was the only person who truly understood my dad. He was angry about how his dad could choose to remove himself from their lives and didn't understand why he would do what he did.  As a result we have grown up thinking suicide is a selfish and unthinking act and one that we could never understand.
I often have thought how people who choose to end their lives must be so wrapped up in their troubles that they must forget about even the most loved people around them, if you loved your family then you couldn't put them through such a thing, could you?
I have, over the past few days had an insight into why and how someone can begin to feel that this is the only choice available.
I went to the dreaded government medical and it wasn't at all the way it usually is, the doctor had called in sick ( Ironic? Yes, indeed, I wonder if anyone called him to ask if he was incontinent and if he was able to pick up and move an empty cardboard box because if he can then why wasn't he AT WORK DAMMIT? ) I have no idea why but the other people were sent home and they looked at me and said " let's see what we can do" What they did was have a lovely nurse interview me and I was left completely befuddled because she was nice and she was friendly. She asked me questions like " do you self harm?" and then said " this is a yes or no question, you are entitled to a private life, they do not need specifics, just tell me yes or no. So I did just that. I left feeling as though I had no idea what that was all about, it was nice to have not been interrogated but I felt so useless and as usual after these things as though I have no real value in this world at all.
She asked me questions that I just couldn't answer because my brain isn't working. I can't remember anything, time is a big old fuddled mess, I can't remember if I did something this week or when I was 12. I can't get words out even if I can remember so really, it doesn't matter.
I don't know what is real lately, I find it almost impossible to discern peoples' intentions which means I take enormous offence where there is none or I laugh when someone is being serious. I am, quite frankly, an actual idiot.
I am overwhelmed with being overwhelmed. I find normal noise unbearable to the point where I am reduced to a sobbing heap when all 3 boys are being boys at the same time,  in the same room.
I sleep for 2 hours at a time, 2 hours of coma like sleep then WIDE AWAKE in a second and awake for an hour or two and  then back to sleep for 2 hours and then UP for the day until 3 o'clock in the afternoon and I can't stay awake and so I fall asleep but only for one hour and then AWAKE and so frantic, my mind never stops, never stops, I dream when I sleep and I dream about being tired and busy and unable to stop so when I wake up I am SO AWAKE AND SO ....yes, like that.
And so, here we are. Or I am. I am here and I'm glad about that because it's been a bit touch and go to be honest.
I was on my own yesterday, or the day before, I can't tell. I lay on my bed and as I started to relax my mind started to race and all I could think about was how impossible it must be to live with me or actually have anything to do with me lately and how, even though I have tried, I am not getting better. I am considerably worse. I can't leave the house unless I have someone with me, I cannot speak to people without feeling so overwhelmed with panic that I avoid it at all costs. I can shop if I know what I need and I know where it is and I can get in and get out in 20 minutes or so. I am more likely to drive Sophie to the shop and tell her what to buy. (The great part of that is the amount of money I am saving, but wait, when will I ever be able to spend it? I'd better get healed soon or this could end in tears.)
The more my brain raced the more hopeless I felt because I really thought this would be over by now. I have had periods before when my depression has spiralled and I have been unable to function as well as usual but I have always been able to force myself to do what is really important. Those times were fleeting in comparison to this round, those times were like little practise runs for this real go.
I felt completely helpless. I feel completely helpless and all I could think was " this is it, this is how I am and I won't get better, there is no-one that can help me and this is what everyone has to deal with" and I couldn't imagine doing this for ever. I could not imagine H and the children having to put up with this level of crazy and my being so unpredictable any more and the feeling was so terrifying I understood what drives people to just give up and give in.
I was so afraid of feeling that way that I told H, I told him because I knew that would stop my mind going any further down that path. I thought of my dad and how devastated he was for his whole life and how he never recovered and I knew that my family would feel the same way.
I cut my medicine down to half the dose, tomorrow I am going to see my Dr and ask her to change it completely, I have to believe that it is the medicine that is making me feel this way. Whatever it is, I have to stop it, I hate being so out of control of how I feel and it's like watching this miserable existence from a distance, my life feels as though it is all in slow motion and I'm standing on the sidelines, watching, while the devil takes control.
My skin is crawling 24 hours a day, my face feels as though it is being eaten by ants, hurty bitey ants with sharp and burning fangs. When I start to relax at 3am when I eventually go to bed, I see bugs, creepy crawly bugs on my pillow.
This is FUN isn't it?
I am glad that I could think about my dad. I am happy that there was still enough of MY mind left that I knew there was more than one choice. I don't think I will ever say again that I don't understand why anyone would kill themselves. I think I do understand and I am so sorry that those people didn't have just one person or one thing to think of that stopped them from believing that the world would be better off without them.
H told me that I am loved and that this world wouldn't be a better place without me and because he doesn't say those words randomly, I knew I could believe him. I wish I could feel the words instead of just hearing them and thinking that they must be true if he is saying them.
I hope this is over the happy ever after way of course!