Saturday, 12 September 2015

Elephants and Rooms

I've been fretting about writing this post for far too long. My blog has been a place I have recorded my achievements, my sadnesses and my stories. It has evolved as I have. I started this blog when I was in a very dark place with depression and I needed a safe place to explore my feelings. It didn't matter to me that other people could read them - and as time has gone on it still doesn't matter, as I know from the emails that I get that people read my words and are comforted by them. It's a privilege to be able to do that.

Over the past 6 years lots has changed. I have been in good places and GREAT places. If this had been a happy ever after story, then my blog would have ended there. However, 2015 has been an especially tough year and I have not really wanted to talk about it. I have not been depressed, but I have been anxious as hell. Its been stressful because its been a stressful set of circumstances so I have not needed to talk about it.

However, hard as I try to look for the positives in a bid to start forward momentum (and some days there are much more light than shade) I don't feel as though I can blog honestly without mentioning the elephant in the room. I don't think I have much to say on the matter (although the next 15 minutes might surprise even me!) so I have decided to list everything that has happened as a bullet point list. You can then make up your own minds, and I can move forward with trying to be optimistic as that's my thing, without feeling insincere or foolish.


1) I lost the job I loved. You might say I was bullied out of it my a new regime in a hostile takeover, but that's pretty controversial. I loved my job and I loved the people I helped. I was exhausted and I grieved for what I lost. I tried anti-depressants but they made me worse and decided to try to go without. I am still without. Never sure whether this was the right decision, to be honest.

2) My husband was made redundant. Neither of us had a job and we still had 3 children.

3) My husband had a breakdown. His career was so key to his identity that this was a blow he couldn't get past without huge emotional trauma.

4) The people who did the redundancies chose to do so in the most spiteful, personal way I have ever known. I shall not make further comment about this again in my blog because it's not my story to tell, but even the Union representative said they had never experienced anything like it. Why show humanity when you can twist the knife? This comes from my observation of what happened, by the way, not my husband. Obviously it made point 3 much worse and watching someone you love suffer is really, really shitty.

5) My reaction to all this was an OCD flair, according to my doctor. It has now gone, I think, thankfully.

5) My Dad was diagnosed with 2 types of dementia and needed a lot of care and support. He has several other ongoing health issues - COPD and cataracts to name but two and has needed 3 surgeries to date. I have helped my parents deal with every health professional we can think of who might be able to help. They are all desperately under-funded and there is little that can be done for Dad. It's all fire-fighting, last minute, long, ineffective, hugely time consuming and stressful for everyone -- but especially for my Dad. His defence mechanism is to fall asleep whilst someone is talking to him, so I pretty much have to go everywhere with him.

6) My Mum - Dad's main carer - had a total knee replacement and was off her feet for a good 2 months, during which time I needed to visit daily - sometimes more often - and care for them both, do their shopping, cook their meals and so on.

7) My brother left his wife and came to live with us for 2 months

8) My son had several visits to choose a university and eventually chose Leeds. He took his A levels (stressful time for everyone) but passed with flying colours and is about to start a degree in Medical Science. I am so proud of him that my heart bursts, but this process has taken quite a lot more emotional work than I expected, especially as I have been preparing him to live alone. He moves out  in 8 days. I expecting to feel very sad.

9) Colleagues and friends: 2 have had heart attacks, one lovely man in his 50s died. One ended her life by jumping off the Humber bridge. One was diagnosed, then died, of motor neurone disease. One was murdered.

10) I have had significant health problems. I have been diagnosed with adenomyosis, endometriosis, a hormone disorder and ovarian cysts. I have two types of pain; chronic and acute. Living with pain is exhausting both emotionally and physically. I am on many types of medication - the main being Prostap, a type of chemotherapy for prostate cancer. It gives me migraines, makes me incredibly moody, stressed and tearful. As well as the vast array of painkillers (paracetamol, ibuprofen, mefanamic acid, tranexamic acid, naproxen, cocodamol, tramadol) I also take medication to combat the side effects of the Prostate - beta blockers (they slow down your heart rate, which makes running near impossible), sleeping tablets, HRT, ranitidine and omeprazole.) It's just URGH. I spend most of my days in pain, exhausted, slow, numbed, stressed and moody.


Hooray for that day. I have been on the waiting list for 10 weeks. The wait is approximately 12-16 weeks. I need a radical hysterectomy where they will remove 7 organs, but bring it on.

11) My darling daughter has not slept for more than a couple of hours at a time for the last six months. Yes, I know this is pretty normal for 2 and 3 year olds but, with everything else that is happening, it is killing me. Sleep deprivation is a method of torture.

12) As a result of the above two points I have had to stop running :( :( I am very, very sad about this. I got up to 18 miles in my training but the pain and the exhaustion meant I was running ever slower and literally crying through my runs. I had a moment when, after a particularly awful spell, I couldn't even do 5k. I sobbed all the way home and most of that night. I decided I needed to give myself a break. The problem with marathon training is that it exhausts you for the rest of the week, and I just did not have that energy to give, or the ability to shelve any of my responsibilities.

I have withdrawn from the Hull Marathon (which is tomorrow) and the Yorkshire Marathon. I have not run since that awful day above. I feel sick with the idea of even attending. I cannot run because I am afraid of failing, and I just don't have the emotional resources to fail right now.

I do have a plan though. I am going to go for a walk each day, and then I am going to do Couch 2 5K again. It may well be after my op, a couple of months into my recovery. I am not going to give up on this, but I have to give myself the gift of "not now" and fight the demons that I have given up because I am weak. That's harder than I imagined it would be.

13) We have started our own business. This is a bittersweet thing. 10 months of job applications have not proved especially fruitful, so Dom and I decided we needed to grab life by the balls. I LOVE it. It is going well but, like any new business, demands all hours of your day. This is harder when your attention span is rubbish, but I am trying my best.

I think that is everything for now. Next week Florrie starts school and Jonny leaves home. That is going to be a big week too. Dom is running the marathon, and I have to fight my demons on that one, but I will hoik up my big girl pants and be brave.

2016 will be awesome. If I have been absent, aloof, moody, grumpy or generally annoying, please accept my heartfelt apologies. Thank you for understanding.

Now I have explained all of this, I can go back to blogging positively with my eyes very much on the future.

Much love

Claire x

PS I shall not be letting the Hull Marathon off the hook next year! :D

PPS I have many, many wonderful blessings: friends, family, cheerleaders and so on. I am - and always will be - incredibly grateful for them. I don't want this to read as a "poor me" post, but I needed to let you know what had been going on in order to move forward authentically.