It’s dark down here

Over the last few months I have reluctantly come to the realisation that once again I am suffering from depression.

Depression has been part of my life on and off for the last 40 years. Most of the time I manage to keep it at bay. I try to be a cheerful happy person. Now and again I have off days. Every few years it goes beyond that.

Seeing as this has not been my first bout of depression, I am able to recognise it even though I tried so hard to reject it.

My feeling of sadness, sleeping all the time, being disheartened at everything. Even the simplest of chores are a huge effort, have gone on for too long to be ignored now.

My advice to anyone else would be go see your Dr. So why have I not done this myself? I don’t see any point in seeing a Dr this time around. They have two solutions, drugs and or therapy.

In the past I have been prescribed anti depressants. I hated the way they made me feel as though I was walking an inch off the ground. I felt like I had no control.

After taking a couple of different ones over the years I vowed not to touch them again. I understand that for many people these tablets can be helpful.

To my mind they mask the problem without getting to the bottom of it. They might make you feel able to carry on but don’t solve the reason you got depression in the first place.

Way back in my early 20s I had a severe bout of depression. So bad that I had to give up my job. I felt I couldn’t survive the next hour let alone the next day. Obviously I managed to get through it. I asked my Dr if I could have councelling instead of drugs. A councellor came to see me at home. (Once). He was changing jobs, nobody came again. Even that one session talking through my problems helped me get back on track

Because I was out of work due to my mental state I needed to sign on for unemployment benefit as it then was. I had to give my reason for being out of work. How could I say that it was my severe depression. In those days any mention of having problems with mental health were taboo. Finding a new job would be difficult in the future if I explained the gap in employment was my mental health.

Anyway further down the line and several bouts of depression later I asked for help. All my Dr could offer was for me to self refer myself for councelling. I did that but it was several months before I was even offered any sessions (by phone not even in person).

So now here I am again. I don’t want to be prescribed medication. There is no point in asking for councelling. I know the reasons (yes there are more than one) for my current depression. Neither of my most pressing problems are going to be solved by councelling.

Firstly, my health is my biggest reason. Dealing with the aftermath of my cancer treatment 20 years ago. I am only too well aware that my insides are eroding. My bladder is nolonger an issue as I am now a bag lady. Oh yes I have recently decided to name my stoma Betty. Because life isn’t great but it’s Better than it would be without Betty. I am currently going through more scans, cameras and investigations to figure out the next course of action to give me some quality of life.

I am fed up of this body which constantly lets me down. The good days are now less frequent than the bad days. I am acutely aware of how my insides feel nearly all the time. If I get up in the night to visit the bathroom, I then spend anything up to another two hours waiting for my stomach to either settle down or send me rushing back to the bathroom. This can be two or three time a night.

I have a very limited diet, not only being diabetic but also fibre intolerant. I have many windy days/nights. I get bloated. I find eating meals increasingly difficult. I’m better off picking at food.

So although I am aware that my body problems are causing me to feel so bad, there is no quick fix. Hopefully after the endoscopy I am having next week my consultant will have a better idea of what he can do for me. I am due to have my appendix out sometime in the new year.

I would imagine that any further surgery won’t be until later next year. If I’m lucky I could be in a better place this time next year.

As if that wasn’t enough I am finding living with and caring for my mother is making me depressed too.

I do love my mother, I am also grateful for a place to live. What can I say. I don’t mind picking up after her, just generally being her housemaid ( she nicknamed me Daisy). We are now starting to get into the realms of personal care. I am not made that way. Caring for my children was one thing. Caring for an adult, even my own mum is not something I care to do and she doesn’t want me to either.

I’m not sure how much is her MS and how much her declining years possibly even early onset dementia but her memory is going. Anyone seeing her for a short time wouldn’t notice but in her day to day living it is becoming more noticeable to me. I don’t know how much she has noticed.

What is really making me depressed about all this is that I feel trapped. Living with my mother is not too dissimilar to living with my alcoholic husbands. Yes there were two of them. Not at the same time obviously.

Getting my mum out of the house is extremely difficult. When I go out on my own. I can guarantee that if I’m more than a couple of hours even if she knows it will be. Like my four hour round trip to see my granddaughter for her birthday. I will get a phone call asking when I’m coming home.

Before covid I was visiting my son and his family every 6 to 8 weeks, staying overnight so I could spend time with my little grandson. Now I don’t feel confident enough to stay away overnight.

It was bad enough when I was in hospital. I was speaking to her on the phone twice a day and my ex was checking on her daily.

Since then she has become more reliant on me at night too

Although I have now been living with my mother for more that three years I don’t feel that this is my home. It is the place I live. I know that there are so many people who are worse off than me. That just makes me feel guilty for not being happy.

I try not to let it worry me, I will be ok when the time comes. My future is uncertain. This house belongs to my mother. I live here rent free. If my mother dies whilst living at home the house will be sold and divided between myself and my two brothers. That’s not such a problem, I will find somewhere to live. What I don’t know is, what I will do if she has to go into a home. The house will go towards paying for her care.

So I know that any amount of councelling is not going to sort out my problems. Only time can do that.

Not here yet

i have lost track of how long I have been home from hospital. I still don’t feel like I am back in the he here and now yet.

Not only do I still lack energy but mentally I don’t feel as though I am back yet. There is so much I want to do but I don’t feel that my brain is in gear. I can read or knit or watch TV. I can cook simple meals and do a bit of cleaning. Anything that takes brain power just isn’t happening.

I have been having more than my usual amount of down days. I know that I will get through this. After all I am a weeble. You can knock me down but I will get right back up. It’s just that these days it seems to be taking longer to get back to my sunny disposition.

Maybe that’s because I’m getting older but maybe it’s because I feel like the knocks are becoming more frequent. I don’t know and I don’t like it.

I’m home

After 11 stressful days in hospital I am back home. I still have my appendix in situ but have to have it removed at some point in the not too distant future.

I am currently feeling relieved to be home but very fragile and weak. I need to be kind to myself and give my body time to recover from everything it has been through.

I also need to get my head into the right space before normal service can resume.

Fractured not broken

The other night and it was at night I wrote a post about waiting. I wrote it because I had been reading Abbie Greaves book The end of the Earth. It had taken me back to when I was a young adult. I couldn’t sleep because of the thoughts going round and round in my head. Once I had written it and I apologise I didn’t read it through so there are bound to be errors.

One of my new blogging friends Bitchy after 60 commented that with everything I have been through it would have broken most people.

That post only scratched the surface of what my life has been like in the last 50+ years. I’m not broken yet. I have many emotional fractures and my body is falling apart but nothing has broken me yet.

Last night mother asked if I had experienced depression or anxiety in the last year. The question was in relation to the covid-19 pandemic. The answer is no. I am lucky to have technology that has allowed me to keep in contact with family and friends. I could also order whatever I needed online. I also have plenty to keep me occupied. My garden, reading, knitting etc.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced anxiety or feeling in low spirits. I have but more in respect of my health than the pandemic.

Waiting

Last week I wrote about Abbie Greaves book The Silent Treatment and I was looking forward to reading her second book The Ends of The Earth. I finished reading it a couple of days ago. I would recommend it however it is a heart felt tale of love and pain.

Reading this book was bitter sweet for me. I enjoy Abbie’s writing but some of the characters took me back to my past. I’m not saying that these characters in anyway resemble me or my past. There are aspects of this sad tale which remind me of one of the bad times in my life.

Some people in my real life know bits of my story but I guess my mother is the only one who knows most of it and even so I didn’t divulge some of my truth until many years later.

When i was 20 I had been engaged for 2 years to M. After a falling out with his mother I was treated more like his mistress/dirty secret than his fiancé. Eventually I had had enough and broke it off. Some months later I began seeing A. He was an older man but we got on really well and he treated me so much better. He was serving in the army but we spent as much time as we could together. We had mutual friend that he stayed with at weekends.

At the time I had joined the Territorial Army in my spare time. I remember once being embarrassed when A had dropped me off for my weekly training. Someone commented about my dad dropping me off. Anyway it was t few days after my 21st birthday that I had been away on a weekend training exercise on Salisbury Plain. When I got back on Sunday night A met me at the barracks to take me home. He took me to our friend’s flat.

He wanted sex. I was tired, battered and bruised. I wanted nothing more than to sleep. He forced himself on me. I made it clear I wasn’t in the right frame of mind or body for sex. That didn’t stop him. I don’t remember how I got home, I guess A drove me. The following Saturday he came to see me. I told him we were finished. He was not happy. He raped me in my parents living room. I never saw him again for which I was glad. I never told anyone what had happened.

At that time police were not sympathetic and I knew that I wouldn’t be taken seriously, after all he was my boyfriend and this was years before domestic rape was recognised. Later I. The year I got back together with M. It didn’t work out, I had changed. Not only that but I found being alone with him difficult. I couldn’t cope with intimacy, I would always see the face of A looming over me. After several months I broke off my relationship again.

I found an ad in the local paper for a week in Austria traveling by coach. By this time I was 22 and in need of a break. I was travelling alone. Being one of the last passengers to catch the coach I had a seat behind the driver. During the long drive I got chatting to both drivers. Once in Austria we were split up around the village. If memory serves me right there were three of us staying in the house where I was staying.

Through out our stay there were events and trips each day. Most of the group were couples or groups. I was just me and often found myself with the drivers and our tour rep. Looking back I know that was a mistake. I was beginning to feel an attachment to the taller of the drivers C. We were spending more and more of our spare time together. Until I ended up spending the night with him. C was an older man (apparently I prefer older men), but younger than A. Amazingly when I was with C I didn’t see A’s face.

By the time I returned home we had swapped phone numbers. He had my home number and my work number. Whenever he was between trips I would catch a train to London where we would stay in cheap hotels. He told me he wouldn’t marry me but he wanted us to live together. I spent a few days with him staying with a friend of his. I applied for a job at his local airport.

Then the unthinkable happened. I hit a call from an older woman claiming to be his wife. S was 14 years older than him and he was 14 years older than me. I guess I will never know the real truth. C told me that he had married S to help her and her two daughters (my age). Every time he tried to leave her she cut her wrists or some other cry for attention.

For months I had to have my calls screened both at home and at work. S or her daughter would call me saying nasty things. I stopped seeing C. Then one night he arrived at my home saying he had left her. He couldn’t take it anymore. The next day we found a bedsit near to my work. That first week it was great coming back every evening to my meal cooked for me. The two of us together making plans. It wasn’t so great for C, he wasn’t used to being in a strange town alone all day with no work. It was his off season.

He told me that he had a friend in Norfolk who could give him work as a taxi driver Monday to Friday. He would be back at the weekends. He never came back. I refused to get upset. I couldn’t phone him, we didn’t have mobile phones in those days. After a few weeks I had a phone call from the Samaritans supposedly searching for C on S’s behalf.

I stayed at the bedsit until the end of our 3 month contract then moved back to my parents. While I was at the bedsit I didn’t see anyone outside of work and a few visits to my parents in the next town. I couldn’t give up on C, I couldn’t forget about him and move on. I needed to know where he was and what had happened. I kept my grief tucked inside me. I never cried, my health began to suffer.

I remember one day phoning my mother at work in a panic. I felt as though my life had collapsed, I didn’t know how I would get through the next minute let alone the next hour. I don’t remember what happened next but I got through the day. My work was suffering, eventually I handed in my notice. I knew I couldn’t carry on with my job in the state I was in.

I managed to persuade my Dr that I needed help but I didn’t want pills. He arranged for a councillor to visit me at home. Unfortunately he was about to change jobs so I only saw him the once. He told me that I was clinically depressed. We went through everything in my life that was making me feel so bad. That helped, just breaking it all down into different problems.

About a month later I got a job working in a bar then a job as an hotel receptionist. One afternoon on my way home I stopped at our local supermarket. On the way out I saw a face I never expected to see again. It was C. He waited for me to walk me home. As soon as I was home I ran to the bathroom to be sick.

It was 11 months since he had left me. He thought he could pick up where he left me. He explained that he had gone to Norfolk as planned but he had phoned home to check how S was. She was in hospital after another suicide attempt. So he went back to look after her. Now she was well and he was able to leave. I saw him a few times over the next couple of months.

I became pregnant, he said he was decorating the flat for S then we would be together. I lost the baby. Suddenly he was unavailable again. He did arrange to see me over the August bank holiday. Bizarrely I stayed with his younger step daughter and partner. We had become friends over the phone. She didn’t agree with how her mother and sister had been towards me. Anyway when I was supposed to see C it was S who turned up. I was suddenly very ill in the bathroom. Later we spoke and found that neither if us were the bitch we had thought.

Over the years I have wondered what happened to C and S. I moved on with my life. I met the man who gave me my four sons.

Abbie’s book was nothing like my story but it did get me thinking about it. I just remembered that one of my colleagues way back then once said to me. ” Your live life might not be happy but it’s interesting” . Thinking back on that comment I don’t know why she thought it was interesting.

Being absent in my own life

The last week has kind of passed me by. I feel like I have gone back to the first few months after my surgery. All I have wanted to do is read or sleep. I’ve been falling asleep 3 or 4 times every day. That’s not normal even for me.

I have been doing other things like a spot of gardening and a bit of avon. I have even gained a few new customers.

I have made an appointment to have a telephone call from my dr. I managed to get the earliest appointment Friday 9th April, after I was told I could ring up at 8am each morning to see if there are any available appointments that day. Whilst this is causing me a great deal of stress it isn’t urgent urgent. I have been dealing with this problem for 20 years but it is getting worse.

In the last few years prior to my surgery I was experiencing constant leakage because my bladder had deteriorated. This was very unpleasant and inconvenient but I didn’t feel unwell with it apart from the frequent kidney infections.

However my bowel problems are making me feel drained, uncomfortable and unable to do very much. Just moving around can trigger an “accident” . I have very little and sometimes no notice at all that I need to go.

Throughout the 20 years since I underwent radical radiotherapy for my stage three cervical cancer. (I know I’m lucky to be alive). I have tried to carry on with my life. This last week I feel as though I have withdrawn from my life.

Although I am my mother’s carer she is worried about me. I don’t want her to worry. Apart from not wanting her to worry I don’t think I can cope with her trying to diagnose my problems and come up with remedies.

I want to be my usual cheerful persona. I think when I see people I manage to carry that off but I spend so much time with just my mother I am sinking into myself.

Today I plan to pick up the last of my march Avon books and do a little more gardening. I hope my body allows me to do these things today.

I’m not like them

I have often been told that I come from a long line of strong women. I am told that I am a strong woman too. I have memories of my Great Grandmother Alice but only as a very old woman. I have memories of my paternal Great Gran (mostly of having to stay with her and being fed undercooked eggs for breakfast). I understand that both these women were strong willed women in their day.

I obviously have memories of both my Granny and my Grandmother. My Granny was one of my favourite people in the world. I can’t in all honesty say that I knew a great deal about her life but I loved her dearly. She was taken away from us far too soon, She had a massive heart attack in the night when she was just 67. My Grandmother was a lady who I wasn’t so close to when I was growing up. I grew closer to her in her later years. How many women in their 90s complete a degree with the Open University.

My own mother has always been strong. My father wasn’t inclined/able to support us properly so my mother trained (whilst bringing up 3 teenagers) to become a Lawyer. Life wasn’t easy for my mother when we were small. She did what she could to make a better life for all of us.

During my adult life I have been reminded by my mother that we are strong women. I have been told by others that I am so strong. I struggled to bring up 4 boys whilst being married to an alcoholic. I survived stage 3 cancer in my late 30s. I fought to get through a nasty divorce. I managed to keep myself and 4 boys going through financial struggles following my divorce. Then I remarried and found myself hitched to another alcoholic who was also a narcissist. I managed to get out of that situation.

All my life I have been reminded that I am strong and come from a line of strong women. I’m not though. I have never felt strong. I have done what I had to do for my boys. I have always felt that I have to get through everything because I come from a line of strong women. I can’t let the side down and be the first non strong woman.

I want to be allowed not to be strong. I want to not have the responsibility of keeping up with my strong women.

WHY do I have to always be strong?

Dark cloud on a sunny day

I’m looking out onto a sunny day and not feeling the joy this would usually bring. Anyone who knows me would say that I am a naturally happy and positive person. Throughout my life I have suffered from depression although not so much in recent years. I have mostly managed to keep it at bay.

I think my whole life has been one long struggle. Poverty, living with not one but two alcoholic husbands. (yes I know one is unfortunate, two is foolish).

18 years ago I was starting the journey into treatment for stage 3 cancer. I was given the all clear in September 2001 a few days before 19/11. it was still another couple of months before I returned to my part time work. It took time to build back the strength to do more than just the basic requirements of family life. I remember very clearly the words of my Macmillan nurse telling me that a very few people have long term bowel/bladder problems following the treatment I had undergone.

I think that after all these years it is safe to say that I am one of these few people. I wasn’t aware until two years ago when I was so ill that I was literally housebound in agony with no appetite. My cancer treatment had made me prone to kidney infections. I had suffered repeated bouts of flu like symptoms, pain in every part of my body and a shivering fever. What scared me the most was the drastic weight loss and the frequent passing of blood in my urine. After many blood tests, ultra sound scans, CT scan it was decided that the cause of all these symptoms was a severe kidney infection.  A course of strong antibiotics and forcing myself to eat again I began to get better. The next year and a half I have managed to stay reasonably healthy.

The last few weeks I have felt unwell, I was getting those flu like symptoms again. I have been struggling to force myself to eat for a few weeks and the blood in my urine has increased from being once or twice a week to multiple times a day.  I never know when the blood will come but I always know when it does because passing water becomes very painful. (it makes me want to cry). I don’t have thrush or cystitis both very unpleasant but luckily not problems that I have had to deal with for years. However as I sit here now I have a pain in my urethera. I don’t know how to describe it other than a feeling that I have a holly leaf wedged inside me. I have been to see the Dr, I don’t have an infection at the moment. The flu symptoms have subsided. On Friday I had to take a day off work as I had a severe stomach upset which left me on the loo for hours. When not on the loo I was sleeping.

I was trying to force myself to eat to get back my energy but scared to eat because my bowels were playing up. Ever since my cancer treatment I have suffered with bowel problems. I can never be confident that my bowels won’t erupt with little or no notice. It makes being out of the house very dangerous for me. Yes I really chose the right job for me. Being in my car for hours on end delivering parcels. There have been days when I have had to make a mad dash home for the loo. I don’t always make it.  It has been bad enough for all these years but now that I my bladder problems have increased over recent years it is getting me down. Following a recent urodynamics test (which wasn’t very successful) the registrar tells me that my bladder has damage from my radiotherapy back in 2001. Cheers I had worked that out.

This has been my life for so many years now that I don’t remember what it was like to have normal toilet functions. I find it both physically and mentally distressing every time I need the toilet. It must be wonderful not to have any worries or distress when sitting on the toilet. I just don’t remember.

All this added to my recent bout of being unwell has led me into a dark place. I don’t usually allow myself to wallow for long but this time I feel myself being dragged under. I know I have things to do and people to talk to but it all seems as though my life is too much effort. I have my estranged husband calling me with messages saying that he needs my help. I can’t help him I have my own demons to deal with. If it wasn’t for my four sons and their growing families/partnerships I just wouldn’t bother getting up each day. I just want to give in to oblivion. I know I won’t, I have my grandson and another grandchild on the way to think about.  If I am honest though I am fed up with my life.

To make life even better within minutes of posting this I fell. I missed the bottom step of our stairs, flinging myself and my laundry into a heap on the floor. Surprisingly my ankles were fine. However I did have incredible pain in my feet. I later discovered the my left big toe is bruised and I had some painful swelling on the side of my right foot. Having wrapped my foot in a towel and some frozen sweetcorn, the swelling subsided. Now three days later my right foot is only painful when knocked but my left big toe is still painful but I am able to walk on it fairly well now.

I have just been reading about PRD Pelvic Radiation Disease Pelvic Radiation Disease

This is new information for me. I had no idea that what I have been dealing with for the last 17 years is a common condition for those of us who have had radiation treatment for Cervical Cancer. Had I known about this sooner I would have made more noise about it with my GP. Instead I have lived with it believing that nothing could be done.  Over the last couple of years I have had various tests and screenings for my bladder problems but never for my bowel problems.

Yes, I am grateful for the treatment that I had which has enabled me to  continue with my life and watch my sons grow up. However I would certainly say that these apparently not so rare side effects of radiation treatment have affected my quality of life.

Moving

This moving business is quite exhausting. When I left my husband four weeks ago today, I only took with me what I needed for a few weeks. I didn’t know what the future would hold. How would he react? Would he cope without me?

In the first couple of weeks communication was mostly unpleasant messages sent from him to my phone. I didn’t respond. I returned to the house a few times to collect more of my clothes and other belongings. Still I was not 100% sure whether there could be a way back for us or not. However the house needs to be sold. I need to remove my belongings from the house.

At the beginning of this week I finally had a message from him to say that he loves me and wants me back. 3 weeks it had taken for him to say he misses/loves me. We spoke on the phone the following day. It was a good conversation. He told me that he is working at getting himself sorted out. He hasn’t had a drink for a month (I know this is not accurate). He said he has begun going to AA (which he hates). I told him that I am not ready to go back. One conversation is not enough to convince me that anything would be different. We need more time, more of everything that is positive.

Two days later I spoke to him again but he had reverted to type. He was rude and after a few words hung up on me. Yesterday I had not been home long from my morning working when he called me. In my car I keep a portable tyre pump, he needed it as he had a very flat tyre. I agreed to take it over to him. The tyre was completely flat. We talked briefly. It is funny how he can be civil to my face. I packed more of  my things into my car and gave him a lift. He had arranged to meet someone and was running late. Surprisingly he needed to be dropped off at the pub!

Later when I was back home again he rang requesting a loan as he needed to go out in the evening but would pay me back next day. We had quite a good chat about things I need to collect. I am going over there today and will go up in to the loft to see what is up there. He can’t because of his broken collar and shoulder bones. Apparently the house will go on the market this week. During the conversation we also talked about the future. He now wants a divorce. OK, so now I know where I stand. I have no intention of divorcing him but if that is what he wants that is up to him. He is moving on without me, he is looking for other women to date/have sex with.

All the times he has told me that he loves me and doesn’t want to lose me obviously count for nothing. I did think he might fight a bit harder not to lose me.

I shall remove more of my belongings today, it might take a few more trips as I find it very difficult being in the house that I thought of as home for 5.5yrs. I don’t want or need much, mostly it is clothes and books. Most of which I don’t need to have with me anymore. Most of the clothes I have already brought back here have been sorted and bagged up for charity.

Moving out of the house and moving on with my life seem to be my priorities right now. Apart from working I am sleeping a lot. I think that although on the outside I am coping with all these changes, my body is exhausted by it all.

moving boxes