Posted in My Planet

Grief – what is normal?

Some people cry when watching a film, reading a book, seeing someone else crying or even watching cute cat videos. Not me. I don’t cry easily. At times, I have wondered if I’m just an insensitive so and so as I have been in situations where everyone around me is crying and I am just there with my dignity intact. I might appear to be in control of such moments, but in fact, I’m in so much pain that my emotions just get bloated inside. Yes, I meant bloated because that’s what it feels like. With my parents’ illnesses and the loss of my mother, I have been constipated with my emotions for a long time. And that is the worst feeling; when you cry, you release the suffering and feel lighter afterward. For a year I have been so heavy with all the emotions and pain inside me, an immense sadness that I can not put into words.

Until last week I had not cried for my mother’s loss and I have felt weird about it, maybe even guilty. I see other people crying – my daughter, my sisters, cousins and friends – and I think, “what’s wrong with me?”. Let me tell you, there is nothing wrong with me – I know that now! After much writing, reading, therapy and self-search, I realised that I have been in a grieving process for a long time. It started when I found out about my father’s cancer, continued with seeing my parents becoming old and frail and the realisation that they wouldn’t be here forever. While my mother was in the hospital, I was consumed with worry about their future or my father’s future without my mother to care for him. I am a worrier and that is one of the biggest enemies of staying in the moment. I don’t think I was ‘in the moment’ when my mother died or even while she was in intensive care. All that time I was in the near future, anticipating my father’s difficulty in coping on his own and the burden that it all would be for my younger sister,  plus feeling guilty for not being able to be there to help due to living in a different country.

I went through the funeral preparation, funeral, packing up my mother’s belongings with my brain somewhere else all the time, a deep sadness was there constantly but I was too busy to deal with it – this is called denial. My worry was my way of postponing my grief. While I was worrying, I didn’t have to accept the fact that my mother wasn’t here and that I was never going to hear the sound of her voice or her wise advice and her long and very detailed account of events. I still find myself thinking of things I want to tell her next time I speak to her as if the phone is going to ring and it’ll be my mother.

Although there were positives in all of this, my mother had a beautiful send-off.  She was very religious and part of the Neocatecumenal Way for over thirty years, so her mass and funeral were truly beautiful and I got great comfort in knowing that it made her soul very happy. This is the importance of rituals during bereavement and grieving, a theme that deserves another blog post of its own. My mother was a good Christian in the real sense of Christianity and she was very well loved and seeing so many people praying with us and offering help and support during that time was such a warm comfort. I will never forget that we had lunch and dinner cared for every day during that time. And there is always someone to look out for my father and help my sister. I know it is not always easy, but my father is coping better than I anticipated and my sister is doing better than well. So all my worry was nothing but a waste of time and energy, what a surprise!

Every time I look at one of the various photos of my mother I have around the house, I feel deep sadness; but last week I look at one of these and I missed her so much. For the first time, I cried the loss of my mother. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I miss her so much and there is so much I want to share with her and so much that I relied on her for. This is the hardest part for me, learning to live without the person you lost when that person has been there for you for the most part of your life.

Posted in Poetry

Creative Portfolio (7)

No – not saying it

 

“We want to go to the cinema tonight, could you watch the children for us?”

Mind: No. I’m so tired, I can’t even hold a cat by its tail!

Mouth: Sure, bring them over.

 

“Hey, fancy coming over for a photo shoot? I need to practice for an assignment.”

Mind: No. I have a book to read on the joys of tidying.

Mouth: Of course, what time?

                       

“I’m going to Trafford Centre for some shopping, do you want to join me?”

Mind: Again?! We were only there the other day, five years ago.

Mouth: Yeah, it’ll be fun!

 

“Can you work my shift on Sunday? I really want to watch this match!”

Mind: No. Are you kidding? You’re going to lose, anyway!

Mouth: Only this once. Enjoy!

 

“Mum, can I have some money for a game tomorrow?

Mind: No. No more games until you’re old enough to retire!

Mouth: Ok, how much?

Posted in Poetry

Creative Portfolio (6)

The Moment

 

“I don’t know you anymore”,

you said.

“You used to go to work every day”,

you cried.

“You always found new possibilities,

always exploring, never unsure”,

your voice trembling.

“Even grandma said

you’d never stop surprising her,

it was in your DNA”

you were sobbing.

“I don’t understand”

 

“I’m still here”, I said.

“It’s like a tree in the winter, lifeless…

It’s a tree, nonetheless.

The winter will give way to spring,

the grey branches will turn green

happily bouncing with energy”,

I continued.

“Summer will follow with bright flowers,

juicy fruits, quenching and deliciously

refreshing”, I think now I was smiling.

“It will still be me in the autumn,

the leaves falling and leaving a warm tapestry

on the floor, made up with coloured patterns

and soft textures”. By now I was convinced.

“Just remember, if winter returns

and I turn blue again, it won’t be permanent”.

 

This poem refers to the moment when I realised the extent to which my depression was affecting my loved ones, and the moment I decided I had to kick it in the ass –  not easy as it sounds here, but a good start.

Posted in My Planet

How to identify the first signs of depression

I started writing this post a week ago, but I was then too tired and maybe too confused to complete it. So I’m going to do it now because I have been thinking about this problem for a while. When I talk about the beginning of my depression, I never know when the first signs began and I always talk about the time when I was diagnosed. So instead of saying that I have suffered from depression since 2010, I say that I was diagnosed in 2010. February 2010 was when I started to break down at work and my manager suggested that I went to see my GP, he said that he’d been observing me and noticed a change; he suspected that I had depression and that my GP would sign me off work for a while. I confess that at that moment, I had no idea what depression was, I had heard about it, but the concept was very abstract in my mind. I don’t think anyone who has suffered from depression can accurately say when it exactly started. We don’t know because we don’t know the signs and more often than not, we don’t even know what depression is in fact. Depression is one of those things that is very difficult to understand when we haven’t experienced it. And despite all the efforts to bring awareness to the general public these days, there is still a lot of stigma to it.

Lately, I have been trying to draw a picture of my early stage of depression, I look back on time and try to find the first symptoms. I can’t say if it was the permanent tiredness, frequent insomnia, lack of pleasure in activities that I used to enjoy, the feeling that there was no point in going to the gym or in wearing make up – just to mention two examples – the thoughts that I was a failure and a burden and so on. I don’t know what started first or when it started. All I can say is one minute I have a job I love doing and feel very grateful for, I go to the gym every morning before work, enjoy the journey to work listening to the radio, and my life seems to be going better than it has ever been. Everything seems to be working ok, my daughter is in college and has a job, my boys are doing well in school and I have friends with whom I share good times; my life is good for the first time in a very long time. Next minute, I feel tired all the time, can’t sleep, stop going to the gym, start to isolate myself, nothing gives me pleasure anymore and I think no one wants my company, I feel like a failure, a bad mother, a bad friend, I am making mistakes at work and I feel inadequate.

One of the things I remember just before the diagnosis was the disconnection between body and mind. Your mind knows what you should be doing, but the body just doesn’t follow. Like when you know you need a shower, but your body refuses to follow instructions. Sometimes you might be having a conversation and say something really stupid, that you know doesn’t make sense, but you just can’t help it. I was making mistakes at work and I knew it, but I couldn’t help it. To this day, I still can’t explain it. And this still happens when I have my low moments, the difference is now I know why it happens and I am not so hard on myself – most times.

Thanks for reading and let me know in the comments if you ever felt this way xxx

Posted in Poetry

Creative Portfolio (5)

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Panic Attack

 

I

It can happen out of the blue, during a date or

a work meeting; no common sense. Unexpectedly.

 

II

When you’re away from home, or snuggling, cosy

watching a film. Even in your sleep. Disturbingly.

 

III

Could be the fear of the unknown, or a visit

from sweet grandma. Unreasonably.

 

IV

Might cause you to hide under the blankets or bury

your head in the sand out of anxiety. Bitchy!

 

V

Inability to breathe like you’re drowning or losing

the plot like dad’s auntie Angela. Overwhelming.

 

VI

Your heart pounding out of your chest,

like a wild horse needing taming. Scary.

 

VII

Nausea and an upset stomach without

a crazy night out as an excuse. Embarrassing.

 

 

 

VIII

As well as numbness, tingling sensations,

a choking feeling or dizziness. Uncomfortable.

 

IX

Palpitations and a racing heart, like mum on a bad

Day, but it won’t kill you, for it’s not a heart attack. Relax!

 

X

Rarely goes on for longer than the BBC news, usually

lasts as long as the adverts or an episode of Eastenders. Unworthy!

 

XI

Just remember to breathe slowly, you’re not on

Jeremy Kyle. You’re safe. Respectable.

 

XII

It’s nothing more than instinct learned from primitive

Times – you wouldn’t remember. Don’t fight it!

 

XIII

It might look like a gigantic terror, or a naughty

Gremlin, but you can beat it. Easily.

Posted in Poetry

Creative Portfolio (4)

For Once

 

The weight of eyelids

is overwhelming. Legs

refuse to move. Mind

has no willpower

while body stays still

under the covers.

I won’t make it to the gym,

who cares? What’s the point?

 

Today is the day I will get up,

shower, clean the kitchen,

make important phone calls

and tackle the ironing.

Today is the day I lie in bed,

feeling exhausted, without shower.

Just a little longer, the bones plead.

Why not, agrees the mind, for once.

 

This poem is about the battle I fought so many times with my body, for little things like getting out of bed in the morning, for example. Not so often anymore, yet sometimes I still get these struggles. But that’s ok, it makes me appreciate even more my successes. If you face the same challenges, be kind to yourself and celebrate the good days!