It's been almost a month since I last wrote. Life has been a little crazy in the past few weeks and each time I've had five minutes to myself to write I've just come to a complete block.
I had my first jab on the 25th March and felt a little rough a couple of days later. 12 days later though I felt really unwell. High temperature, shivering and a general feeling like someone had pulled the plug out. I ached all over, had a constant headache and felt sick. I'm not one to take time off work, but I was incapable of doing anything. I did a lateral flow COVID-19 test and that was negative but after a couple of days feeling like this I was a little worried. I spoke to my Dr and had a test sent out, fortunately it was negative and the Dr has put it down to a reaction to the jab. After 5 days I felt OK just a little worn down.
Since the easing of the lockdown restrictions I've been travelling to the office 2 days per week and it has been so lovely to see colleagues. To actually see faces without masks. I've managed to meet up with some old friends and also with some new friends made through my group. I really enjoy being in company. To spend a few hours in a garden or walking along the beach having a coffee, chat and a laugh has been so needed.
We have had some happy news in our family, the first in a while. My daughter proposed to her partner on her partner's birthday, and she said yes! My daughter had spoken to me a couple of months ago telling me her plans and asking for my opinion on a choice of rings. It meant so much that she included me and her partner's mum in the proposal plan. Being a big softy I cried with happiness when she told me and struggled to contain my excitement when the day came. A couple of days after I spent the afternoon with my future daughter-in-law, and although they are not planning to get married in the immediate future she did tell me what they are thinking of. It was so lovely spending time with just her as my daughter was at work. I feel so lucky that my daughter is so happy in her life.
My son is 17 this week and I always get emotional around my children's birthdays. He is growing up so quickly. He's just applied for an engineering apprenticeship and got an interview next week. I am so proud of the young man he is growing into. He also gave me a huge scare two weeks ago.
Both of my children are type 1 diabetics. My daughter was only diagnosed last year aged 21, but my son was diagnosed at 12. The first year after diagnosis was a massive learning curve. He had to carb count which meant weighing everything he ate and working out the number of carbs in the ingredients, then working out how much insulin to take. Due to his age and his hormones going mad it was a very up and down time with several hospital admissions whilst we learnt to adjust to this new and ongoing way of life for him.
Type 1 diabetes is considered a lifelong chronic illness and can cause many complications. My son learnt very quickly how to manage his diabetes to the best of his ability, but there are factors that are beyond his control that can cause huge problems. His ever-changing hormones as a teenager or when he has a sickness bug or even the common cold can affect his sugars. Hypoglycaemia and Hyperglycaemia are common for T1 diabetics and whilst we now recognise the symptoms and can usually manage the highs and lows without medical intervention there are times when it just doesn't work.
Two weeks ago was one of these times. My son had been perfectly OK all day. His sugars for the most part are exactly where they need to be on a day to day basis. He went out at about 8pm that evening for a walk with his friend. He was home 30 minutes later and said he was having a low. He looked awful and was dripping in sweat. This is unusual for him. Usually with a low he gets dizzy, verbally aggressive and if too low gets disorientated, slurs his words and is lethargic. That alone is scary, but this was something different. I checked his blood sugars, and they were at 1.6, this is dangerously low. He had told me he felt low halfway through his walk and had eaten some high sugar bars, but it had not helped. His clothes were soaked with sweat, and he was shaking uncontrollably. I got him out of his wet clothes and wrapped him in a duvet. I needed to treat the low so gave him something to bring his sugars up. I checked his temperature and was shocked as he was at 32.5 degrees. Hypothermic. This has only ever happened once before and that was in 30 degree heat in July just after he was diagnosed.
He sounded like he was drunk. His words were slurred, and he was finding it difficult to think or process what was being said to him. I know with hypothermia you need to warm the person slowly, but I also had to continue to treat his low. After 30 minutes of doing this and with no improvements I phoned the hospital. Fortunately we have a direct number to the Children's Assessment Unit, and they are fantastic at giving us advice or if more urgent treatment is needed they organise directly.
Although I was scared I was so calm. The hospital was concerned but reassured me I was doing everything right. We needed to wait another 30 minutes, keep warming him gradually and treating the lows but if no improvement an ambulance would have been needed. I did exactly as required. His sugars started to rise, but he was still incredibly cold. With his sugars rising he was able to get into a warm shower. After a while his temperature rose to 34. I spoke to the hospital again, and they were happy an ambulance wasn't needed although from previous experience his sugars can then go the opposite way then plummet again taking us back to step 1.
This low and hypothermia had really taken it out of him, and he just wanted to sleep. I kept him in my lounge and let him sleep on the sofa as I still needed to monitor his sugars and temp for a while. Eventually at 11.30pm I was happy he was stable enough to go to bed. I however needed to check him again an hour later and repeat throughout the night every two hours. It is like having a newborn baby again. After he went to bed my calmness disappeared, and I sat and sobbed. I had been running on adrenaline and when that leaves your body it can cause a low. My son is growing up and wants to live a normal life. I worry about if things like this happen when he is away from home, who will help him? Would he be able to phone for help? The reality that I cannot be there for him forever hit me like a brick.
The following day I had to go to work, exhausted as up at 2am, again at 4 then up for work at 6. My son spent the day with his grandparents as he was still feeling wiped out and his temp was still only 35 degrees. We don't know what caused it, but it can happen at any time without warning. My son has a great circle of friends who are for the most part sensible, and they know of my son's condition. This does help put my mind at rest a little. I can't wrap my kids up in cotton wool but oh it is so hard sometimes. After it all returns to normal my son is fine but gets cross that I worry too much. Maybe he will understand one day when he has children of his own that all you want to do as a parent is protect your child. I would do anything for my children not to have this illness, but I cannot change it. I have to let him grow and get on with his life whilst keeping my fears hidden away.
On Friday he will be 17. He is excitedly talking about learning to drive, holidays with friends and the possibility of travelling in the future. I will happily support my son in everything he wants to do but inside I will always worry, sometimes too much, but that's what mums do.
I wanted to write about the fantastic last 2 weeks I'd had, about the excitement and emotion of finally seeing my daughter. About the day I spent with my friend who I'd bumped into last year for the first time in 25 years and how we had a great day, and he had me laughing until my sides hurt. All of this happened and was amazing but from Friday until Monday it was overcast with sadness.
Easter Sunday would have been my husband's birthday. The fifth one since he passed away, so why did it feel like the first all over again?
I really was the happiest I've been in a long time but waking up on Good Friday I felt as flat as a pancake. It's quite normal for me to feel off, in the build up to an anniversary, but I'd not felt this flat in a long time. I found myself withdrawing. I stopped interacting with my group and stopped responding to friends. I was irritable and also worried my dark depressive period I'd suffered from October till January was returning.
I felt lost and a huge sense of sadness. I couldn't work out why the build up to this particular anniversary was hitting me harder than previously. Last year I was OK for his birthday. I was more than OK. Someone came to stay on that day for the first lockdown, so I was busy sorting and arranging the house. Easter fell later last year so by the time that came around I had company and was distracted. This year the birthday falling on Easter and being relatively alone hit me hard, a 16-year-old boy who is also grieving doesn't want to sit with his sad old mum, he wants to deal with things his way which is OK by me.
All day Friday and Saturday I felt on the brink of tears. I tried everything to lift my mood. I practised the mindfulness that has been working well for me, I tried to read, I certainly didn't want to listen to music as I knew that would start me off crying if certain songs played. I went for walks but all I saw were happy families and couples holding hands, that made me feel even worse. Even when my mental health has been at its worst I can usually fake it and portray to the outside world I'm fine, but I couldn't find the energy to do that.
Sunday came along and it was awful. I woke up crying. How bloody stupid! It's been 5 years since so why was I in this state. The more I cried, the more frustrated I got with myself. I had no motivation to do anything. My son had gone for a walk, he likes to act as if an anniversary is a normal day, so I was conscious of being upset in front of him. I did drag myself into the shower whilst he was out and just slumped to the floor in a ball and sobbed. The floodgates had opened and I couldn't stop. I knew I had to pull myself together for the sake of my son, so I got dried, put on some clothes but really couldn't face anything, so I climbed into bed. I must have cried myself to sleep. I woke up a couple of hours later feeling emotionally exhausted. I'd lost my appetite over the past couple of days and really couldn't stomach a meal. I cooked for my son crying the whole time. I hid away whilst he came down to eat, and when he went back up I came back down.
I've been a member of a group for young widows and widowers for quite a while and know that it is usually a great place to get some support or advice. Sometimes just chatting to someone who has experienced something similar is such a help. I chatted to a lady who was 10 years older than me but who had lost her partner at the same age I had. She got me completely. She said she had found the anniversaries since lockdown particularly difficult even though she's happily remarried for the past 5 years. This helped me to feel 'normal' and to stop beating myself up.
Grief is a peculiar thing. When Andy first passed away I was still trying to process his illness, but I went through the motions. I cried every morning on waking, on and off throughout the day and cried myself to sleep every night. There were many times I wished I wouldn't wake up, so I could be with him but knew I had to carry on as my kids needed me more than ever. Then after a few months I noticed I didn't wake up crying but then may do for another week or so. I laughed and felt guilty for doing so. Then I'd notice I didn't fall asleep crying and so on and so on until I realised it had been a week with no tears, then a month. Laughter comes easily and without guilt. Anniversaries come and go. The first ones are awful. The second ones are bad, the third a sadness. Each one becomes a little easier to live through. For the past 2 years I've been OK for most of the anniversaries except for the anniversary of his death last November when I was at a real low point and of course this weekend just gone.
There is no instruction manual on how to grieve. There is no timescale for how long it will last. Everybody grieves differently there is no right or wrong. Grief for me is like the sea. Like a tide, grief ebbs and flows. You can go months with a calm still sea then suddenly without warning a wave of sadness can hit. It can last moments it can last days but with each wave you know it won't last forever. It will subside until the next storm, or until a pebble causes a ripple effect. For me grief is not like depression, with depression you have no idea when 'normality' will ever return. Depression becomes your normality. Grief is different, it's a process. It is painful at times, but I believe it is healthy to grieve. You can only grieve for something or someone you have loved and lost. People always say time is a great healer. I agree to a certain extent, as time goes on you learn to live without that person. You learn a new way of life. I'm learning that it's OK to still grieve and that some years may be different to others and that too is OK. The strangest of years we've all had combined with the anniversary of a loved one has just been harder than normal to get through but unlike those early days of grieving where you never think you'll smile again you learn that you will and the memories of the past will once again give you pleasure not pain.
Today, apart from feeling unwell as a reaction to my COVID-19 jab 12 days ago, I'm OK. I have a temperature, ache all over, but the sadness has lifted (my lateral flow test was thankfully negative). I'm also prepared that future anniversaries will come and go without any sadness, but there could be that one in the future where it is difficult to get through and that is allowed. Grief is a perfectly normal part of life that I have to accept. I cannot control it. I just need to ride the waves when they appear and remember it does get easier again.
I've written and re-written this so many times. Each time it just seems like a huge block of words on a page. Not because I'm sad, quite the opposite actually. I'm a bundle of excitement. I feel like a kid at Christmas and my brain is working faster than my pen so to speak, so words are just tumbling out at a rate of knots. I have so many exciting and happy things going on at the moment I feel like I'm going to burst. None of it is life changing, but I haven't been this excited about anything since the early months of 2020, and it feels good.
I'm meeting up with a friend I've known since I was 7 and lost touch with. We met again through my group and have arranged to go for a walk on Wednesday. It'll be great to catch up on what's been going on in her life and chat about old times. I also have my jab booked for Thursday afternoon. After them trying for the past 2 weeks to send me to the Isle of Wight I've finally been booked into Guildhall Walk. Most people in my age group are not getting it yet which is why I can't have it locally, so I consider myself lucky as my children are both Type 1 diabetics and the letter of invitation states I'm a carer for a person who is vulnerable to Covid-19. However, I am needle phobic! The thought of the needle, not the vaccine, is already making me nervous. I know, I'm a wimp. The journey to get the jab will be a doddle, but I'm concerned about coming home. I faint every time I have an injection or blood taken so the thought of a bus, ferry and another bus on my own will be interesting. Possibly embarrassing but well worth it. My second jab is already booked for the 13th of June.
This coming weekend is what has got me about ready to pop. I'm going to see my daughter. Apart from a brief moment at Christmas I have not spent anytime with her since her birthday at the end of October. We are meeting up for a drink in the garden rain or shine. I do not care if it is thundering, lightning or throwing it down with hailstones. The gazebo will be up and we are meeting.
I'm also going for garden drinks with a guy who I have known for 34 years. He is a few years older than me and I had a huge schoolgirl crush on him. I was a first year, he was a fifth year, so he never knew, and I don't think he even realised I existed back then. We bumped into each other when we both worked for Butlins 25 years ago but hadn't seen one other until October last year, when I recognised him on my way home from work. After a hilarious chat on the train and ferry, we added each other as friends on Facebook and he has kept me entertained during this last lockdown with his wit and humour. It is going to be great to actually sit and interact with another adult human. 6 months alone with a teenage boy has been a challenge at times.
Next week I go back to the office for 2 days and the plan at the moment is to do so on a weekly basis. Again I'm so looking forward to interacting with people. To see others without a mask on is going to be fantastic. I have missed seeing smiles and people's facial expressions.
The therapy I have had for my self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth has been life changing. I've put some of the weight back on I'd lost at the end of last year, and I'm happy and comfortable with how I look. My parents had commented I had gotten too skinny, as did a couple of people who knew me that I'd bumped into on walks. I think they meant I looked unhealthy, but were too polite to say. On top of my own therapy the therapy sessions we've had in my group have been a massive help. We have covered confidence, trust and last week was boundaries. This week is creating your own reality. The feedback myself and Dawn the therapist have received is fantastic and everyone on these sessions has said how much they have got from it. For me personally I never really set boundaries. As a pleaser with confidence issues, I've never been comfortable verbalizing my boundaries or dealing with it, if I felt that they had been crossed. In the past I allowed 'friends' to treat me however they chose and just put up with it. I no longer have contact with two people I've known a long time as they crossed boundaries time and time again, but I let them. I always thought I would miss these people in my life but in the past 2 months since I last spoke to them, I can honestly say I have not at all. It's also given me a much clearer perspective of what and who I want in my life.
My group is continuing to grow and now has over 600 members. Since I started it as a bit of a joke the day before New Year's Eve, I have been amazed at what has been achieved. I never imagined for one minute I could have created something that has helped so many people. I have already booked in to visit a few members who are scattered around the country and have a few from Australia and Canada who are booking a holiday to the UK for the get together once life has fully returned to normal.
I feel like I did back in December 2019 when life for me was fun and exciting. Spring is officially here, the gardens are starting to come to life after a long tough Autumn/Winter, and that is exactly how I see my life at the moment.
I actually feel like I am going crazy. Like I'm stuck in some sort of weird Sci Fi movie where my only contact with the outside world is through electronic means. Oh, wait it is!
I've been keeping myself busy with work and my fb page and group, although I feel I am slipping further and further away from reality. I also feel like a huge fraud pretending to be happy and funny when in truth I feel dead inside. I've no passion or excitement about anything.
I'm working from home again and whilst I loved it March through to September I am finding it a bore now. I love to talk to people, but nobody has anything to say unless it is around COVID-19 or the dullness of the weather and my patience has worn thin with discussing that. I struggle with my confidence and being an enforced recluse is causing me concern for the future and if I will struggle to engage with people when this is over.
I'm not going to complain about all the materialistic or fun things everyone is missing out on, I can cope with that. What I am missing is proper conversation. The intelligent debate or banter. Me having an opinion and someone getting me to look at an alternative view. Someone to bounce ideas off. Without this I find I have too much time to think and that is when I struggle.
As I said in my last post I don't want to think about how I'm feeling I need to keep that locked up at the moment. If I do, I worry about where it may lead me.
I need to keep my brain active to stop me having those dark thoughts and falling backwards. I haven't watched TV in weeks as it's something I have never really enjoyed doing alone. That may sound strange to some. I'm struggling to read a book as my concentration seems to have disappeared, so consequently spending more and more time in front of the PC exchanging messages and comments with complete strangers. It's a quick hit to break the monotony and is all well and good, but I know it is not reality. Yesterday I switched my phone and PC off, determined to do something different. I cleaned my house then resorted to my bed at 3 in the afternoon feeling extremely low. I actually had a thought pop into my head, that if I slept long enough I'd wake up and this would all be over or again just not wake up. I know that is an incredibly selfish thought.
My sleep pattern is erratic. Going to bed at 2am waking at 5am. Working for a bit, taking a nap. I've lost my appetite and apart from cooking for my son I really can not be bothered to eat myself. I feel exhausted through doing nothing physical, and I am finding this cycle hard to break.
Like a lot of people I have not seen my parents or daughter for a while and for some strange reason when they call I sometimes find myself letting it go to voicemail. I then feel guilty as I miss them. I'm ignoring messages from friends, which is not at all like me and I feel I can't be bothered and again I feel bad.
I keep telling myself that this is not forever, but I fear the damage it is causing maybe. There's the saying "The devil finds work for idle hands" for me it's my brain.
I can't believe I'm writing this, but I don't know how else to get it out. I was dreading the holidays and tried really hard to keep myself occupied but if I'm brutally honest it has been tougher than I imagined. As everyone is struggling at the moment I've done my usual and pretended I'm fine. I'm not! I've come to the realisation that I've done such a good job in the past of keeping my feelings hidden that nobody currently in my life knows the true me and that is sad.
I listened to the latest update last night and whilst not surprised at the new lockdown, I am distraught. I'm angry this wasn't done months ago. I'm frustrated that whilst I like most people did follow the rules others haven't. I am not worried about my own health, but I am fearful for my children who are both Type 1 diabetic and my parents who have medical conditions.
I'm scared that these next few weeks will see me falling back into that spiral of self-pity that I had during my lowest point a couple of months back. I'm scared that my anxiety has again been triggered, and I'm terrified of those dark thoughts that sit in the periphery of my mind waiting to resurface. I don't feel able to tell my family or friends how I'm feeling as they are all going through this, and I do not wish to add to their worries.
I've just spent over an hour on the phone with my friend whose mum was admitted to hospital yesterday with COVID, trying really hard to stay upbeat and positive for her during a very difficult time. I have been messaging an old school friend who lives alone and is struggling during this time, with positive encouraging messages as I'm concerned for him, but I cannot seem to practice what I preach.
I hate feeling like this. I am so angry with myself and feel selfish. I'm sitting here thinking about what I want, what I'm missing out on and hate myself for it. I had made progress and been so positive in the past month, and I am now here writing like this. I'm disappointed that I seem to be allowing myself to go backwards.
I don't go back to work until next Monday, and it can't come quick enough. Anything just to stop myself from dwelling on last year and my fears for the coming months. Anything to stop myself from doing something I desperately want to do but would get me in trouble. Anything to stop this damn overthinking.
I found writing two positives from my day and revisiting really helpful, but I am struggling to find any positives in my days at the moment. I've re-read past writing in the hope of bucking my ideas up but nothing seems to be working. I've been busy with my page and was encouraged to create a group which has taken off well, but I can honestly say that even though I have a happy, funny persona portrayed in doing that, happy and funny is not how I feel. I live with my teenage son and I know I am luckier than others, but I have never felt so lonely or alone.
I crave normality, I desperately need a hug. I really want for someone who knows me to realise something is wrong, to hold me and tell me that everything will be OK. Sadly none of this will happen anytime soon, so I need to sort myself out. I just don't know how.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to look at what I can only describe as my ramblings. Words straight from my head and my heart. Do they make sense? I'm not sure anything does any more.
After many years of writing my feelings, thoughts and bad poetry in books, scraps of paper and my phone (that no one has ever seen and most have been destroyed), I've decided to have a go at writing for others to read. Maybe it will help me. Maybe it will help someone else.
This is a huge step for me as I've always kept a lot of my 'true' feelings hidden from public view, possibly as I fear what others may think, fear it may hurt others feelings, but I have learnt this is detrimental to my own health and can leave me feeling very alone in a big scary world. Yet I still do it. Until today!
I'm not quite brave enough yet to put a picture up or give my name. Maybe one-day. Baby steps.
I consider myself a 'normal' woman (whatever normal is). I'm mid forties, widowed, hard-working and a mum to two amazing humans who blow me away with their courage and determination. I wish I had half of what they have. I'm nothing special. I have no talents, I am never going to change the world, I am just me!
In the past I've suffered from depression and anxiety and again I'm finding life very tough as I know many others are in what can only be described as a year like no other. Over the years I've mastered the act of hiding how I feel. I put a smiley happy mask on and the world thinks I'm OK. A confident, strong woman who's faced life's battles and come through it. If only they knew the truth!
I'm hoping that by writing this it will help me find a way through these dark times. I've had some very dark thoughts recently and I'm struggling to see a light at the end of a very long tunnel but I've been there before and survived. Surely I can do this again?
So where do I begin? Well the start is usually a good place. For the first 13 years of my life I was pretty happy. Yes I got bullied at school for being abnormally tall, wearing glasses, having freckles but who wasn't? But maybe this set my path for the 7 years that followed. I still can't answer why I allowed those 7 years to happen but I did. The only plausible reason I can find is that I was just a kid. A kid with hopes and dreams. A kid who looked at the world as a romantic with an idealized view of reality, who saw the good in everything and everyone.
I had a huge amount knocked out of me back then, both physically and emotionally but I survived. I've scars, some visible but most were hidden away. Locked up. (Not forgotten, just hidden, not thought about. Kept as a reminder. A warning). That was until recently. Now they are as raw as they were over 20 years ago. I can't see these ones. They are the ones that hurt the most. The ones that make me question myself and everyone else every day.
The kid may have grown up. Replacing a romantic idealized view of reality with a hopeful realistic optimism which in the past few months has been taken away. Today I feel empty, numb. Trying to make sense of the past year. Trying to understand what the hell has happened. So many questions. Questions I know I will never get answers for.
So what now? What does the future hold for me? I can't answer that I just need to get through today. What do I want? I want to get to a place where I can hope. Hope to live not exist. Hope to laugh not cry. Hope to move out from the dark fog that's blocked out my light. Hope that life returns to some semblance of 'normal' for all. Hope that once again I will find the courage and strength to move forward. To learn, to live, to love.