Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Improving Mental Health

Once again I've started to enjoy all the little things that I used to enjoy. Some of them I had set aside as being too much bother, too noisy, too time consuming or too full of self pity. But I think now that I'm letting myself emerge again I'm beginning to feel a little more content. I read. I listen to music. I sit quietly and think, without feeling guilty that there are chores to be done. I've started a bit more gardening without feeling guilty that the whole garden needs weeding. At least I've done a small patch (ouch those muscles hurt!). I meet friends for coffee regularly and chat about nothing much and share some laughter. I'm glad to say they have stopped asking after MyMan every time for which I'm grateful. I still find it difficult to say 'he's no better' without trying to put a positive gloss on it. I'm still inclined to feel a little 'left out' when I'm not invited along to 'couples' events. So I'll search out a new group to join where I can be just 'me'. Where no one knows MyMan and wont be asking after the latest health bulletin. Something that will stretch me mentally. Maybe a photography club or a creative writing course. I've a few weeks yet to make a decision. I allow myself to feel and release anger. And grief. I've had so many bereavements over the last 5 years and not properly recovered. So many losses. I allow myself to cry, to weep and wail. Better than to keep it bottled up. To carry on coping. I am learning to cope again. And I am in the middle of inventing a new me.

Friday, 20 July 2007

All Change

The consultant psychiatrist today suggested that to increase the thyroxine dosage may give MyMan some more energy. He feels that the depression is made worse by the sheer fatigue factor. However, blood levels need to be checked first. Another factor is the difficulty that chronic muscular/bone pain does have such a debilitating effect on energy and mood. There is nothing that can be done to improve the pain. It is a question of managing it. This is as good as it gets. Chiropractic and deep tissue massage will only stop it from rapidly becoming worse. It wont make it better. He has to learn to live with it. We talked over just how much it has changed his personality and how difficult I'm finding it to adjust. "Like walking on egg shells". The consultant suggested I see our family doctor to talk over the effect it is having on me now. My need for counselling and support. Meanwhile MM will continue to have talk therapy. As a means of letting out the grief and anger over the loss of his working life and his active self. To use a professional as a verbal 'punch bag'. I miss my husband and he misses him too. So he does understand. All we can do do is to keep on trying. Meanwhile I think I've started to regain some of my equiibrium.

Re-Asserting Self

I made a small step towards re-asserting my independence. MyMan told me not to do that - "leave it"- three times. More firm and definite each time. I thought his voice sounded commanding. I nearly did leave it. But then realised that if I left it I would feel uncomfortable. Torn, I wavered but then did it anyway. The sky didn't fall in. A small step but an important one. It was a very small matter. I was just being neighbourly. And practical. A recycling bin left in middle of the shared access road after emptying, to be replaced on the neighbour's pathway. I was walking past it - why not move it? It was wet and windy. I would have been annoyed if later it ended up tumbling around our garden.

I wondered when had I let this irritable, commanding tone of voice become so all important to me. I think it began when I realised how low his self-esteem is nowadays. I tried to bolster it. I reduced how often I would disagree. But all I have done is to allow a minor degree of bullying into our household. So it is time to re-dress the balance. I've started. Small steps. MyMan can't believe that he 'commands' but I've explained that's how I think it sounds. I'm trying to return to the old me. To re-claim my life, to do more of what I like and how I like without feeling guilty.

I also told him that I had started to dream of a 'better' life. Alone in my own place. He was shocked and upset. But not entirely surprised. We've found it painful and emotional. It's been a tiring week. But changes are happening. Maybe I wont have to leave after all.

Thursday, 19 July 2007


I went to meet a counsellor on Monday. I am more used to the role of a listener. I found it hard to start. We had so many silences it was a question of which of us would lose our nerve first. But she was good; she asked questions and slowly got me talking. I felt on top form. I didn't feel the need to unburden sadness. "I'm not depressed". Well who could be in this glorious setting. The sun was shining; it was a hot summers day. The bees were buzzing and the birds flitting around the crops. The view from her counselling room was glorious. Relaxing and Calming. Rolling country fields; from here to there, from left to right, up hill and down dale.

I finished talking and threw a grin her way. "Do you hide behind your smiles?" she asked. I acknowledged the hit. Then later she asked "and who is Penny?" and "what does Penny do to cope?" and "where has Penny gone?" and suddenly I didn't feel quite so capable. As she said stocisim and being an optimist can also be a form of denial; not facing reality. As well as being a strength it can be a weakness. I also say "at the moment" a great deal. It's as if where MyMan and I are, "at the moment", is likely to change. It isn't and I have to adjust to that. She thinks I shouldn't hold back in an effort to protect him. She thinks I should be more truthful. But how do you say "I think I would be happier apart from you"? After 36 years together. Life is so difficult for him - "at the moment" - should I do that?

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Putting Affairs in Order

A few weeks ago I while was in the bank queueing for a cashier, I couldn't help but overhear a very elderly, distressed woman trying to get access to some money from her husband's account. If we ignore the picture of the poor lady trying to sort it out with a cashier in full view of us all rather than being taken to a private room then it was very unsettling for her. I do regret now that I didn't have the courage to intervene, ask if she'd like assistance or even tell the bank they should have been prepared to help her in a more private confidential way.
Her husband had been admitted to hospital. It sounded rather dire. I believe he was undergoing treatment that meant he had been in hospital for weeks and was likely to be an in-patient for even longer. He had sent her to the bank with a letter of authorisation for her to have access to money to pay outstanding bills. At the time I thought "if only they had a joint account - she wouldn't be having this problem". However, I've now found out that if one or other signatories of an account are mentally incapacitated then the account becomes frozen. So to be on the safe side I today downloaded 2 forms for each of us to complete for an Enduring Power of Attorney. The rules on Power of Attorney change on October 1st when the system becomes more complicated and obviously more expensive to complete. But if the earlier version of Enduring POA is signed and witnessed prior to October 1st the document will remain valid. Rules in Scotland are different.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Caring About Loved Ones

I was pondering the title for this blog last night. In some ways I wanted to imply that I was a careless carer and would care less in future. Difficult - especially where love is involved. Why is it that when you have troubles in life - life keeps on happening and dumps even more in your lap.It's almost as if life will test you to breaking point. I see that Rachel now has the worry of her mother's stroke . She will probably worry far more over her mother than she has over any of her recent problems. It will be a really testing time for her. I hope she takes time out to 'be kind to herself' - to relax - to meditate - whatever helps her through. She is a strong lady. She'll need that inner strength. Life really is a bitch sometimes: but the alternative is worse. In the same way that not to have a loved one to care for would be a rather sterile existence.

On A Count of TENS

We managed to get out together this morning. My Man purchased a pair of shoes from the sale rack. We both love a bargain. He needed some slippers but none were available in his size. That means he will have to go shopping again. Good - he needs to be out more often. Otherwise he'll end up with agoraphobia as well. He had manipulation a few days ago - so is able to move a little more easily today. He wore a TENS machine while he was out. It helps to mask the discomfort. We were out for just over an hour. It's a shame it was raining again. But it meant that we could call in for a coffee and watch the world go by. It went by under umbrellas of all shapes and sizes - just like the people carrying them.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Chocolate for the Soul

This may be the start of new beginning. MyMan has found a woman who is a 'good listener'. He has agreed to start a few weeks of talking therapy; psychotherapy. He likes her. He likes her approach. He can be cynical about 'therapists'. He has trained as a counsellor - in a 'directive' business style. He is aware of all the different theoretical approaches. When you have spent all your professional life helping others it can be very difficult to accept help instead. I'll go and see her too. Although I find it difficult to talk of problems. It may help with the difficulty we're now experiencing in communicating. I too could do with some time being totally honest. To let my hair down and the tears to flow. Whatever happens - it is a start. An acknowledgment that we need some help in finding our way through this. MyMan says that half the trouble is he just doesn't listen - it takes up energy. I know he's not listening so have stopped talking. I thought he seemed more energised after his first brief 'free' session. Talking has already helped him to some degree. At least now there is some acceptance. It is a beginning ...

Friday, 6 July 2007

The Blues

I've had a real fit of the blues. I wasn't sure whether to write this posting here or to make light of it and write up my feelings over on "And - who Cares ...." . I've been trying to keep that blog more light hearted. Fun. Friends and laughter. But - yet - this blog I've not really used when I feel really low. I have tried to be truthful about how My Man and I are battling to come to terms with life now as it really is. So tonight I've come on to say - I've had the blues all week.
My Man, as I've said previously, is adjusting to 'being less able' (it sounds less hard than 'disabled'). He was, a few days ago, quite keen on trying a couple of days away - for a change of scene. As he is unable to travel far I started to look for a hotel within 1/2 hour travel time. The most he is able to manage. Not Exeter - we've been there - for hospital appointments. So I started to explore Somerset and Dorset. I collected several brochures from Sidmouth Tourist Information Centre. I started to read and make possible plans. Dreaming of a much needed and welcome break away - together. Where we could go for a gentle stroll, read the papers, look out over rolling fields, a babbling river and gambolling lambs. We could then chat together over dinner, as we used to -enjoying the luxury of meals magically prepared by someone else - a Chef. I could feel the gloom start to lift at the thought. I pondered on Beaminster area - from where we could explore Bridport and see the new harbour at West Bay. Or at a hotel - an old converted farmhouse north west of Yeovil. From where we could visit the air museum at Yeovilton and see Concorde. Which I thought would give him pleasure.
But then My Man started to say he didn't want to go to Bridport as "we can do that on a day trip" . Regardless of the fact that he's not felt well enough to travel 'that far' for over 4 years. He's not keen on the converted farmhouse as it has conference facilities and is probably full of business men - not to mention the helicopters from Westland - the noisy flightpath etc etc. He wants a quiet relaxing break. At a hotel that's not full of old people. He doesn't want a hotel that allows children either. And no conference centres as businessmen (now that he's no longer a clan member) are noisy, rowdy and inconsiderate. I'm not sure that we do really want a quiet relaxing break. Surely we are quiet here at home. Any quieter and we wont be living. Any quieter and we'll have even less to talk about to each other.
I wonder whether his talk of wanting to get away for a short break is just that - talk. I've given up looking now. And of dreaming. He has the brochures - if he is interested he'll look and see if he can find his perfect holiday break away. But it may be that he feels safer at home. Once we used to be able to tell each other of our hopes, dreams and fears. But now I'm left trying to guess and read the meaning behind the words - a hidden language. I also am not quite as truthful as I used to be - the truth would be too hurtful. The nearest we come nowadays to honest talk is when we end up sniping irritably at each other. We don't argue; if I bite back he soon tells me I don't understand how he feels. That is an argument stopper. I am angry and frustrated. Just as he is. He thinks I am unaware of how he feels and I think he doesn't know how I feel. That's why I have a fit of the blues.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Blue Badge Holder

My Man still refuses to compromise. I can't disagree. I too would be fiercely independent. I am. When my back goes into a sudden acute spasm I'll continue to dress myself - so very slowly. Often using a back scratcher to hoist my knickers up. Along with other little tricks I've learnt over the years how to manage. But once I've rested the torn ligaments, the over tense muscles and recovered enough to stand upright once more - then I am back to normality. I don't know how stubbornly independent I would be if everyday was going to be the same relentless grind of coping with pain. He has a Blue Badge which means that on the rare times he does go out he could park in a disabled bay. But as he isn't " in a wheelchair" he doesn't feel justified in using it. It would mean less walking to the shop he needs to visit. It would save a great deal of his energy which rapidly dwindles when he has to walk anywhere. But no.
We have to go to town soon to buy some new shoes and clothes. I'll probably drop him off outside the shop then go and park and rush back to help him. One day I'll be brave. I'll drop him off then go and park in the disabled area - place the permit on view and just hope that he'll be far too relieved not to have a long walk to the car park when his shopping is completed.
Just to think that there are fit young folk who abuse the system by using other peoples badges. Just so they can park up for easy access to a football match. When I remember this I get annoyed that My Man could make his life [and mine] a bit easier by being more realistic and less independent.