Monday, November 29, 2010

What have I lost?

I am reading a book on dealing with grief at the moment. Each chapter covers a myth about grieving, and the reality. The first chapter's myth is You only grieve when someone dies. And the reality, of course is, We grieve whenever we lose anything, whether it be someone or something. I completely agree with this.

One of the exercises at the end of the chapter is to make a personal loss profile about a specific experience or an event. So here goes.

The event I choose to reflect on is: My realisation that this may be as good as it gets; hubby may never get any better, and in fact may continue on his slow downward spiral.

These are the losses I experienced, albeit gradually, not all at once:
  • I've lost the ability to be honest about my life with friends and family. Apart from our parents, I am not 'allowed' to tell anyone that knows my husband what is really going on in our lives. He believes that he has lost friends by me sharing my problems with people we know. In truth, he may be right, but I am just stating my losses.
  • I've lost my house as a welcoming home into which I can invite other people. Much of it is now full of junk. Drifts of snow dog hair and piles of clean and dirty laundry make it extremely uninviting.
  • I've lost my freedom. If I go out in the evening, I pay for it later as his anxiety ratchets up, and he becomes extremely clingy and needy.
  • I've lost the ability to work a 40 hour week, so I've had to take a pay cut and work a 35 hour week instead. I tried, but even when I was still working at home, I kept running out of time and always having to work on the weekends... because I have to take him to almost all of his appointments and sit there with him so he doesn't get anxious or scatterbrained and forget all the details. Despite him officially being the at home parent, I have to do most of the kid things too. I may as well be a single parent, in that regard.
  • I've lost the opportunities to spend time with my extended family (other than my parents). He feels betrayed by my sister and her husband; and my brother and his wife have been distant to him as he becomes intense and hostile when things don't go his way. I have three nephews and a niece that I hardly know. 
I feel better putting that down in writing. I have tried to stick to just the losses and be objective. It will be interesting to see where this book leads me next. I am tempted to write what I am grateful for now, as a follow-up, but I think I will stick with the book exercises for now.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm back, with carer grief

It has been a while (7 months, oops!). Silly me, I thought I had everything 'under control', but over the last month or so...
  • I've cried at the end of the Dr Who episode about Vincent Van Gogh, because the credits said if we'd been upset by the episode we could go to this special BBC mental health website, BBC Headroom, for support.
  • I've cried at the meditation workshop I was at the next day at the beautiful Abbotsford Convent. We were supposed to be imagining a beautiful garden, and I just got sadder and sadder.
  • Started taking 2000mg St John's Wort twice a day, again, as once a day was just not doing it for me.
  • Wondered if there's something wrong with me for putting up with a husband who won't do the basic things he needs to do to take care of himself.
On Tuesday I finally got to go to my carer support group again (it has been six weeks, we only meet twice a month but my meditation workshop meant I missed one meeting, and then the Melbourne Cup meant the other was cancelled).

I talked about how I was doing and that I was taking care of myself but feeling so sad. Individual members helped me understand I was in a grief phase. Earlier this year I attended a workshop on grief (run by the CEO of Griefline) in mental health caring - the grief for the life, hopes and dreams we had, that we can no longer attain. It is sometimes referred to as burnout, disenfranchised grief or compassion fatigue. The problem is, there is no closure, no definite steps, little family or community support (unlike bereavement or something physical like a heart attack or cancer diagnosis) and it goes up and down and around like a roller coaster.

On Wednesday, I was supposed to go on another respite day, but apparently the government decided my region had enough funding and I didn't get to go. So I went back to Peninsula Springs, and this time I took hubby. Oh, we had a glorious day... and hubby has never felt so relaxed, so why am I feeling so sad again?

I need some more self care
  • Call Griefline and/or Carers Victoria and see if I can get some counselling around my grief.
  • Research programs that might help hubby with his combined issues (chronic pain, painkiller addiction, anxiety, and depression).
  • See if I can find somewhere the whole family can go and meditate or do yoga together.
  • Find somewhere closer hubby can go for regular bathing in warm water.
I'm glad to be back... I hope some of my followers are still out there!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My other blogs

As you may have noticed, I don't blog here often... that's because I don't have much spare time!

But I have realized I can blog on some topics without too much effort... I can touch type, and cut and paste, and just add a few thoughts of my own, but still share my knowledge and insights.

Please check out my other two blogs:

Carer Inspirations - lovely things that help lift my spirits

What Sapphyre Read - worthwhile reads. This blog title was inspired by What Katy Did, I read this many, many years ago and I'm sure I still have it in a box!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

To snore, or not to snore, that is the question...

This is how I imagine myself in bed, sleeping at night. Bliss (actually I sleep on my stomach, but you get the idea).

Apparently, I've forgotten I have a husband, as he's not in the picture... well, no, I actually am such a good sleeper (when I don't have adrenal fatigue) that it really doesn't matter whether he's there or not. (As long as he doesn't steal all the bedding.)

However, all is not well on the other side of the bed. A few weeks ago, hubby revealed that I am a snorer!
Image: Danilo Rizzuti /
We have looked at or tried a few different things, with limited success:
  • Anti-snoring ring. (This goes on your finger, just to confuse you!) This helps reduce the amount of snoring. Unfortunately, due to my distracted brain, I keep misplacing it. Grrrr. According to lots of people I know, it does usually work. (I suspect it doesn't work for sleep apnea.)
  • Sleeping on your side. Well, I haven't actually tried this, because this is supposed to help when you sleep on your back. Sleeping on your stomach apparently is no worse than sleeping on your side. However, now that I think about it, this is similar to the position that CPR teaches you to put unconscious people in, to improve their airway. (I think.)
  • Anti-snoring throat spray. 
And the winner is.... raising the bed head a few inches with bricks under the bed posts. Two nights in a row, hubby has had a great night's sleep. And I haven't snored for more than a minute!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Getting reassurance from blogthings

People Really Like You!

You're simply a great person, and most people who meet you realize it right away.
You're kind, interesting, outgoing, friendly, and polite.
Your friends are lucky to know you. You're a joy to be around.
You are definitely well liked by almost everyone. You're a very popular person!

What People Like About You:

People like that you can defend what you believe in calmly and rationally. You stand your ground and gain respect.

People like that you truly take and interest in them. Everyone likes to be liked!

People like that you take responsibility for your actions and admit your mistakes. They appreciate your maturity.

Do People Like You?

Inspiration comes from And Who Cares, another carer blog by Ladythinker (Penelope S)

I promise a more meaningful post soon!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Creating 2010... it's not too late to plan for the year, is it?

Creating 2010

What would you like to be your biggest triumph in 2010?
Writing the story of my romance with hubby and how life worked... on a blog will be fine! 

What advice would you like to give yourself in 2010?
One day at a time.

What is the major effort you are planning to improve your financial results in 2010?
Using the loan from my parents to catch up with commitments, and then budgeting and sticking to it! So far I've decided 10% of income on debts (excluding mortgage), 10% into saving for commitments, and 80% to live on. Now I'm starting to track expenses that vary, like petrol, groceries, etc.

What would you be most happy about completing in 2010?
Getting the house decluttered, and having a regular cleaning schedule where each family member knows what they need to do each week or month.

What major indulgence are you willing to experience in 2010?
Pampering myself! Carer Respite, visits to friends, and other things that make me feel good and help me cope with this life I find myself in.

What would you most like to change about yourself in 2010?
I'd like to lose 20kg and feel healthier.

What are you looking forward to learning in 2010?
I am looking forward to learning what I can change for the better and what I must accept as something I cannot change. Acceptance, Commitment, and Love are my watchwords for 2010.
What do you think your biggest risk will be in 2010?
That I will lose myself again in the care of others. Thus I must schedule me-time and visits to friends!
What about your work, are you most committed to changing and improving in 2010?
Communication with my manager. Now that I have returned to working in the office, instead of from home, I am making sure my manager is kept up-to-date with relevant news about my work. And about absences.

What is one as yet undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in 2010? 
Writing. I haven't done much this year, but I am very glad I started this blog. I'm unlikely to get time to write a novel for decades, so this is good practice in the meantime! I am thinking about writing up some of the stories of my life, inspired by the My Wife Has Agoraphobia! blog.

What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in 2010? 
>Scrapbooking - making something beautiful. By scheduling regular visits with my friend, and finding a new Creative Memories consultant that runs workshops locally.

Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving in 2010?
My husband and children.

What one word would you like to have as your theme in 2010?
Thanks again to Sandy MacGregor's Mind Matters News for these questions.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Focus on three beautiful things

Inspired by another blog I'm following... Careless Carer - Focus on 3BT

Three beautiful things today.
  1. My son and his friend J have such a beautiful friendship. They look out for each other and do good things for each other.
  2. My husband loves me so much. (And I, him!)
  3. Work and home are now separate. My 'worker' role is now a peaceful escape from the realities of my carer, mother, and wife roles.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Completing and Remembering 2009

What was your biggest triumph in 2009?
Diagnosing and treating my adrenal fatigue.

What was the smartest decision you made in 2009?
To take over managing DH's medications that he cannot safely manage himself.

What one word best sums up and describes your 2009 experience?

What was the greatest lesson you learned in 2009?
I must put my own health and happiness at the top of my priority list. Fit your own oxygen mask before helping others or you will suffocate!

What was the most loving service you performed in 2009?
Staying awake with my husband when he was in lots of pain, unable to sleep, and therefore suicidal.

What is your biggest piece of unfinished business in 2009?
Decluttering our house - it now has 7 years of accumulated clutter.

What are you most happy about completing in 2009?
My stint as a work at home mum. The managing director of my firm decided it was time for all us far-flung workers to return to the offices he pays rent on. This only happened the week before Christmas, and already I have been much more productive... and content!

Who were the three people that had the greatest impact on your life in 2009?
My husband - he always has the greatest impact!
My new friend T - she has been on her own rollercoaster. We have held each other's hands and screamed and cried and laughed through our journeys together.
My counsellor, R - helping me keep on the straight and narrow, and agreeing with me about the adrenal fatigue.

What was the biggest risk you took in 2009?
Taking my husband's medication away from the house without his knowledge. (So it would be harder to access.) I actually snuck out of the house to do this while he was distracted talking to my parents. The risk was he would get very angry with me and I wouldn't cope.

What was the biggest surprise in 2009?
My husband started to realize that his daughter wasn't anywhere near as difficult as he thought she was... as long as you don't rant and rave.

What important relationship improved the most in 2009?
The relationship with my son improved. I believe he knows he can tell me anything now, but we'll have to test that theory over the next year.

What compliment would you liked to have received in 2009?
It's amazing how well you manage things and still keep your sanity!

What compliment would you liked to have given in 2009?
To my husband: You are the dearest, sweetest, most loving and sexy man, and I'm so glad you're all mine! (I'm going to send that to him on Skype right now!)

What else do you need to do or say to be complete with 2009?
2009 was a difficult year. I'm glad it's over, and I have come through it stronger, and more loving than ever.

Thanks to Sandy MacGregor's Mind Matters News for these questions.