Monday, 16 May 2011

Taking a dose of my own medicine

One of mine and Clive's values is about being authentic, which according to the New Little Oxford Dictionary is defined as 'of being undisputed origin, genuine'.

I think today is as good as any of this, which is why I choose to share it with you on how to dig yourself out of a pit - of despair, of isolation or however you see your 'pit' or dark, uncomfortable place.

After my hectic few days I have lined up this week to focus on work; lots of 'admin'; more sorting, etc. etc. etc. I went to bed (admittedly late after unpacking so I had a 'clear run' this morning) and went out like a light. I woke at 7.30 and decided to have a few more minutes! A phone call woke me shortly after 9 and it felt like it was 3 in the morning. I felt shattered. Exhausted. Apathetic. Angry with Clive for dying. Angry with myself for feeling so tired.

I didn't cry as that required effort. All I wanted to do was stay under the duvet with cries of 'too much to do' and hide away from it all. As I write that the scary thing is that is how I was feeling in the hours before I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after Dom was born. See my book .

Back then I was mentally ill. I am not now. I am bereft. The difference is that I CAN rationalise my thoughts and behaviour. I am in control and in charge of my actions. And I also have to keep on reminding myself that I am ultimately responsible for where I am now and because of that it is my responsibility to deal with the outcomes.

I cannot help that Clive had a heart attack and with him went all our joint visions, goals and plans. I could waste hours on 'if only', and I already have! Yet I know that I simply HAVE to move on so staying in bed solves nothing.

So many times Clive used to say 'when you don't feel like doing anything, just do something. Motion creates emotion'.

First stage was to get out of bed. A shower was too much so I just got dressed. Scruffy but comfy clothes and a big fleece of Clives. What a mess! My whole body felt like it was twice its normal weight. Each action was laboured.
But I was up.

Next stage put washing on. Tick.
Breakfast. Tick
The temptation was to continue to watch 'Homes under the Hammer' but would it really enrich my life to know how much a tatty bungalow had been resold for?  I compromised by coming back upstairs to make by bed but watched the outcome upstairs! One of my friends recently shared how she is struggling to get organised at the moment. Her first steps to feeling that her life will be neater in all aspects is to have the goal to make her bed each morning. I had explained to her that one way I try to motivate my mind is to have my surroundings tidy - it helps then to mentally make me feel so.

The office felt like a pit I was scared to enter. So much to do in there! Too much I didn't know where to start.
That's where support and working together comes in as Ann rang me about our  workshop for Children's centre staff in Doncaster next week. Just by talking about it inspired me to look at the slide show. I also moaned at her! Then had a moan at Chris by text!

I struggled on at a few more tasks but seemed to make them worse because I was in a negative mood. Even blogging about the fabulous show last night didn't improve me. Not even the beautiful photos of my niece. I was in a real 'can't be bothered' mode but knew I had to keep on. Little steps. Bit by bit.

My neighbours are wonderful in cutting the grass at the front of the house but the back garden was looking like a field. I decided that even though I felt so tired that the exercise of cutting it might help. It did! I came back in from the fresh air feeling pleased with myself. I tied up the sprouting sweet peas in the hanging basket and felt so much better.

And of course you know what I made for lunch ... egg and oven chips!

I then had the mission of making myself look presentable for my networking at an event in Leeds for the Chartered Institute of Marketing.  
I am due to give a talk at their Awards evening in Leeds on the 24th June so was going tonight to meet some of the people involved. I slipped on some 'feel good' underwear and a red dress - not quite the woman from the Special K advert but I left the house looking and feeling like a different one from a few hours earlier.

Meanwhile the support today continued to come in on my Blackberry - texts, emails, responses to my blog. I often don't get around to immediate answers but please be assured that they DO lift me. When I was with my college friends a few nights ago we were talking about the matching underwear 'theory' that Clive was so keen on, i.e. he believed that women should always have beautiful, matching bra and briefs on for themselves. If you felt good underneath your clothes it helped boost your confidence and mood.  Today I needed a boost and put on a silk set he had given me. Then my friend Margaret sent me this comment from an article in Woman and Home by Kathy Lette, words spoken after Pamela Stephenson helped her:-

'she reaffirmed my mantra that a woman's friends are like her human Wonderbra - uplifting, supportive and making each other look bigger and better'!

By the way - the same applies for men! Just how long have you had those baggy undies? Do those dirty grey ones with the worn out elastic REALLY make you feel good?

In some ways tonight was a challenge for me to 'network' again. How do I answer questions about where I am in life right now? Do I blurt it out? Do I ignore the fact that my soulmate has died a matter of weeks ago? Do I not mention it?  But it IS where I am right now. Back to being authentic I guess. The truth is that it is HOW I tell people. I have found the best way is to chat about other things first - starting with questions about the other person. That way I can at least smile, say positive things and be genuinely interested. That way an initial impression, eye contact, etc. can be built up. As the conversation goes on I mention that I have lost Clive, but do so with a smile and a comment about him and I both wanting me to carry on. Then I turn the conversation back to something about them. I haven't done this consciously but it does seem to make it easier for the other person who then invariably asks me for more details which of course I am delighted to give! Depression is a taboo subject yet 1 in 4 of us as adults will have a mental illness that requires treatment. Death affects us all so why do we not speak more openly about it?  As I have found speaking about both in an open and honest way generally eases the fears and awkwardness.

I met some interesting people at CIM and am looking forward even more to the Awards evening.
Thank you for the warm welcome.

On the way home from Leeds I called in to see Lynn and Rod. I haven't caught up with them for a few days so it was good to spend a little time with them. I can't come home and hug Clive but a hug from his very special sister is a close second.

I know I should now be in 'relaxed' mode of hot bath, relaxing music, and no computer but I just wanted to share today whilst it was fresh. I have plenty of things to do tomorrow so this will be one less.

So what are my top tips for a 'can't be bothered' day?
  • Be responsible for your own actions
  • A little wallow or moan to self and others is ok but then move on!
  • Get out of bed - wash, eat, move
  • Begin with household chores - a tidy environment will help you focus on other things
  • Fresh air and exercise
  • SUPPORT  from friends, colleagues
  • Pretty underwear
  • Small steps beginning with good underwear
And as Clive once sent me an email ..
'it doesn't all have to be done today'.

I miss him more than words can say but at least this 'dip' hasn't been as far down and without the buckets of tears. And when I present from a stage looking and feeling confident, like everything in my life is wonderful and easy it is days like today which will give me the credibility to acknowledge ways of getting through life's challenges - with a smile.

When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand 
reasons to smile.
I leave you with  two questions -

Who can you be a human Wonderbra for? 
Who do you need to ask to be one for you?

Elaine x


Megan said...


Once again you stretch yourself further into survival; so proud of you. Your 'attitude of gratitude', your strength
and your willingness to accept help in your vulnerability is a total inspiration. You rock!!

Thank you for sharing, Clive would be very proud of you.


Much love,

Meg xxxx

Jane Keogh said...

Clive will still have wanted you to achieve those joint visions, goals and plans. Take him with you in your memories and shine brightly to your audiences, it will help you get through the different stages of grief. Feeling for you Elaine - whilst the pain is obviously unbearable, he would want you to persevere. You have a powerful message which will help others and in the long term yourself.