My Planet

50th Post

“Adjacent” was my 50th post on this blog! Yey! Well done me!!!

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Adjacent

The other day, I was watching the tv game show “Crystal Maze” and noticed one of the contestants didn’t know the meaning of the word adjacent, which cost her a crystal. I wanted to shout it at her as I saw her struggling with her task, and that’s is why I chose this word for this week’s word. Adjacent means next to or near something. If two things are adjacent, they are side by side. In the game show I was watching, the contestant had to put a yellow cube adjacent to a blue one (I’m not sure about the colours, but you get the idea), and I felt frustrated seeing her failing such an easy task. So much so that I decided to clarify the meaning of the word here to prevent such future frustrations. Interestingly, this word has its origin in jacere, the same Latin word that originates the words adjective, eject and project, for example. While adjacent and adjective share the root jacere, which means “being thrown down” and the prefix ad meaning “toward” or “addition”; the words eject and project share the root jacere but without the prefix ad.

Posted in My Planet

My first panic attack

I had my first panic attack when I was seven years old. My primary school teacher lived on the same street where I lived and I used to walk to school with her. We would go to school in the morning, come home for lunch and go back to school for the afternoon. One day, I took a bit longer to finish my lunch and she had already gone, but I didn’t know and waited for ages outside her door, after a while and went back home and told my mum she didn’t come. When she saw me, my mum made a big deal out of it and told me to go to school fast because she would have gone already. I don’t think my mum meant to scare me, but I just got so worried for being late, I cried my way to school running and by the time I got there, I was hyperventilating unable to produce a word. I was in such a state that everyone thought I had been attacked on my way to school. When I calmed down later on and managed an explanation of my worry for being late, the teacher – maybe out of relief – and all the class laughed at me. I didn’t understand why was that so funny at the time, although I have used the episode to illustrate my innate sense of punctuality.

I can see why for an adult, at the time, that seemed like a very silly reaction on my part. I agree that it was indeed. But unfortunately, it doesn’t illustrate only my sense of punctuality; this is also a proof that I am a born worrier. And in the years to come, I have become really good at it, an expert I would say. I have been so good at it that I have suffered from insomnia for years, maybe most of my life. Even though I don’t worry as much now, I still see a whole night of sleep without interruptions as a luxury. The problem with worry is that it is the most useless waste of time; the Cambridge Dictionary online defines worry as ” to think about problems or unpleasant things that might happen in a way that makes you feel unhappy and frightened“. The key word here is might; when we worry, we think about things that haven’t happened and may never happen. There is no purpose whatsoever in worrying. While we worry we don’t make anything better and we just get consumed by anxiety; worrying is one the habits that I blame for my anxiety and depression. Sometimes the silliest things would consume hours of my time in useless worry; like for example this one time when I had to travel for a job interview and spend the three hours of my journey worrying about the ring I was wearing – ‘will they think this is too bold?’, ‘will I miss this opportunity if I’m wearing this ring?’, and so on. In the end, I decided, well this is who I am and I am not going to hide it. It turns out I got the job and the interviewer even complimented the ring and even said that it showed my individuality. So, while I could have enjoyed the journey reading a good book or even relaxing, I was just feeling sick to my stomach for nothing.

 

 

Posted in Poetry

Creative Portfolio (8)

No – learning to say it

 

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

I would, but I’m tired and I need my rest. Ask me another time.

 

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

I already have plans. Why didn’t you give me more notice?

                       

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

No. I’m not in the shopping mood, if you know what I mean.

 

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

No, I can’t. It’s my first Sunday off in weeks.

 

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

No. If you want games, you must save up yourself.

 

“You’re different but I can’t quite put my finger in it. What changed?”

No, I’m the same. Nothing changed! (I lie.)

I don’t know, you look bright, happier!

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.