GRIEF WITHOUT DEATH

Image result for broken shell of a body

I miss my Mum. I miss her so much.  A death you would think.  No, my Mum hasn’t passed away, but she’s had a severe stroke and has been in the hospital for nearly three months now. I miss her presence in my life – she was always there to talk to when I had problems with my children growing up and always in these later years when I’ve been battling with my mental heath.

She used to support me through everything and as the years ticked by, I was the one supporting her (and rightly so). We would talk on the phone for many hours, putting the world to rights and putting each other to rights. We rarely had a cross word.

I have to confess, there have been times when it’s felt a bit of a chore to have to phone my Mum every day, sometimes twice a day in more recent years.  I would, perhaps, think, “I want to spend more time with friends” on that particular night or “I’d like to spend the time writing my blog”.  Worse still, I’d be keen to text a good friend for a heart-to-heart or get that email written that I’ve been meaning to do for days.

Now, the evenings come, and I find myself thinking,  “I’ll just phone to see how ……….” – My sentence is cut short by the stark realisation that my Mum is not occupying the same space as she used to do. Something else is in her place – a horrible silence broken only by memories of how our relationship used to be.

Gone are our chats, our shared laughter and our mutual support. There are no long discussions about what she had planted in her garden that day with the full expectation of seeing her little seedlings and shoots develop into strong, tall plants. She’d tell me how she’d tied them up with green, garden twine against bamboo canes and watch them develop and bloom.

She won’t go back to that house again, nor her beloved garden that was her sanctuary, her escape from the world when life got difficult – not now. She could never manage the stairs, feed herself or live without 24-hour care and yet she’d managed independently since her separation from my father. She had lived in our family home for over sixty years. And to think the grass was being cut by her only two weeks before she had her stroke.

The damage to her brain is so extensive that she’s still unable to communicate verbally or in any other way,  and any hope of further improvements is met with serious doubt by the doctors and consultants.  The physios, the OTs and the speech and language therapists are not hopeful either.  I try to talk to her on the phone when I can’t get there – hoping to get a response but my questions always have the same replies – nothing – it’s heartbreaking.

I’m still travelling up to the City by train to see her at least once a week. The journey is always tough, fraught with difficulties and exhausting but I need to be there. I need to retain that little bit of hope. However, she isn’t even able to acknowledge that I’m there and I wonder where she has gone inside that broken shell of a body.

I feel I should not be grieving as she is still present with me. But I am – I’m grieving the loss of the person that my Mum once was; her presence in my life, her faded personality and her love, care and affection. She is no longer there.  But grieving when she is still alive; is that right? Is that acceptable? It is simply grief without death.

Image result for broken shell of a body

STROKE – COMPASSIONATE LEAVE

Image result for Right Brain Stroke Damage

Life has had a nasty habit of throwing us curveballs now and then. That ball has certainly knocked me down many times, but I think the important thing is that it’s not how far I fall but whether I can get up again from there. That’s true for everybody at some time, but I feel like I’ve had to do an awful lot of climbing back up over the years.

I don’t feel sorry for myself though as we all have to cope with this experience we call life. I’ve had a significant knockdown just recently which is limiting the amount of time that I have to write my blog – not that you could ever really call me a prolific writer – I’d say more a sporadic writer.

Right now, things are tough and a real challenge. My mum was sick before I wrote my last post – she was in a local hospital with pneumonia. That was bad enough. She is elderly and becoming rather frail now, and illnesses and accidents are becoming a common occurrence now, in her 87th year.

A week later while still on the ward, Mum was found collapsed in the bathroom – she’d had a stroke. The very thing she had always dreaded and said: “It’ll never happen to me”. I thought, until this event, perhaps somewhat naively she was going to be right – that she would live to an even riper old age than she was already.

An ambulance rushed her to the main City Hospital. A friend took me there later that day, and it was a real shock. There was my mum, laying almost helplessly unable to do anything. The whole of one side of her body was lifeless. She couldn’t move her arm or her leg; she couldn’t sit up – not even with support – she lurched sideways into a sad heap and had no balance. Her face had dropped so that her eyelid drooped and what was left of her smile had been taken away.

Two weeks later, she still hasn’t made much progress in her movements. Her speech is slurred, very soft and infrequent as her cognitive function has also been affected so that her brain is working much more slowly to process information. She’s unable to swallow properly so is on a diet of small portions of rather undignified, pureed food which she still manages to pull a face at in an odd way and I just know she’s thinking, “Why am I being given baby food?” I can’t begin to imagine how awful it must be for her to be trapped inside her mind without being able to express herself clearly or barely communicate.

Needless to say, her appetite is almost non-existent, and I can’t say I blame her when food has to be spoonfed into her now crooked mouth. Pureed shepherd’s pie and carrots, having been liquidised within an inch of their life, wouldn’t appeal much to me either.

I am travelling up to the City Hospital every other day (a journey by train in my wheelchair, George of two-and-a-half hours each way). I spend as long as I can with my mum but then return home along with the hoards of workers turning out from their places of work to head homeward. Travelling with an electric wheelchair is not fun when all around me are rushing, pushing and shoving to get home after a long day or a long shift.

As you will have gathered, I might not be able to make an appearance very often at the moment, so please excuse me if I have been unable to read, like or comment on your blog. I have only had the time to sort through the most important emails and phone calls, and it’s likely to be that way for some time. Thank you for your understanding, my friends😦

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

i_will_be_back_soon

Just to let you know that due to serious personal and family problems, I am currently unable to write any posts on my blog and I’ve not been able to read the blogs and posts of my friends here. I apologise for my absence and but I will be back, hopefully, before too long and when these difficult issues are more settled. Thank you for bearing with me in the meantime. Ellie x

FRAGMENTS OF ME

antique-cupboard-for-blog-1

I will show you

fragments of me

myself

us,

hesitantly

if you are kind

and have patience

to listen

and trust

~~~

I will open cupboard doors

that have been closed

for many years

and bring out

pieces of me

people

and truths

hidden

over my lifetime

~~~

Clumps

have been grabbed,

thrown

to the ground

but I gathered them up

and tucked them away

in my mind

in my heart,

carefully hidden

~~~

These pieces are me.

If you see them

as superfluous,

say they are unimportant,

are of no value

and without meaning

I will gradually

silently

hide them

once more

~~~

I will fold them

securely

in tissue paper

as if they were jewels

and place them

back into the cupboard

never to be seen again,

lost

and gone

forever.

 

SKIN DEEP

self harm word chart

I decided to write about something quite personal and close to my heart. It is a sensitive subject for many people who suffer  or struggle with mental health issues. I realise that everyone will have different thoughts and feelings about this topic. However, I am speaking here of my own thoughts and emotions now, as a woman over forty-five years old, discovering I have very mixed feelings about this topic now, as I look back.

I’m talking about scars. A lot of people have scars – all sorts – scars from operations, from injuries, as a result of criminal acts, because of medical conditions and no doubt, many other reasons that I haven’t mentioned here. I am talking about ‘self-inflicted’ scars caused by self-harm. Self-harm can take many forms; in my case, they took the form of cutting, burning etc, severe and chronic anorexia, many over-the-counter drug overdoses and quite a few addictions over the years I was ill.

In my opinion, the public’s view of ‘self-inflicted‘ injury is often inaccurate. Yes, I was in control of my actions (sic) but those actions were not the underlying reason for my self-injurious behaviour. I was often unfairly labelled by hospitals as a self-harmer/attention seeker which wasn’t the case. In most instances (as with a huge majority of cases), I was carrying out actions which were mainly caused as the result of having serious abuse inflicted on me over a long period  but the person or people who ought to have been held accountable for my trauma never were, and rarely are.

I’m not going to discuss any further detail about the whys and wherefores of my self-damaging behaviours which became a way of life for very many years. I am now speaking of the present and the future. Currently, as a mature woman, I  very frequently find myself feeling awkward or embarrassed because I have many old and quite unsightly scars all the way up both arms. It is summer again and we’ve had some hot, sunny days and this always creates a dilemma about whether to wear long sleeves or not.

That isn’t because I carry endless shame or guilt about my scars – to me, they are evidence that I survived an extremely dysfunctional and seriously traumatic childhood which also continued into some years of my adulthood. However, I do find, as a mature woman, that it is unusual to see such scars on somebody of my age and that people often do notice this and sometimes I feel stared at for a little too long than to be comfortable. Occasionally, I have had the experience of being the subject of a shared snigger between two people who obviously have no understanding of mental health or are just appear ignorant when pointing and exclaiming. “ugh or eww – what have you done to your arms?”

I do find there are many situations where I feel I have to cover up with (simply to spare other people’s own fear and embarrassment). There are some instances where I, myself, would feel uncomfortable, misunderstood or perhaps even judged, such as in the company of some older people, going to an interview, family gatherings (such as weddings) where those gathered are fairly distant relatives who don’t know much, if anything, about the truth of my past and even in my church, strangely enough (perhaps it’s because I’ve not at this church during a summer before).

I also find that  a few of my  Carers, particularly when they first start working with me, don’t quite know what to say, especially if they are helping me shower and dress when my scars are painfully obvious. I usually put them out of their misery by talking about it openly rather than attempting to hide it rather uncomfortably behind the shower screen.

I’m aware that this post has ended up rather longer than I first intended it to but as you can see, it is something that I feel passionately about. I am very happy to chat with any readers who want to understand a little more, or perhaps share their own experiences with me if they have been affected in a similar way and are feeling alone or isolated. You can find my email address at the top of the page in the ‘Contact me‘ section.

Thank you to all those who are continually there for me x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAKE LOVE ~NOT WAR

Image result for Love and Destruction

A few parts of this post are taken from one of my previous post, last year, with some new additions, adjustments and amendments. It includes a poem (below) that I’d like to share with you. written by a friend, Katie. Some of you might have already read parts of it but for those of you who haven’t, I hope it touches you as it did me.

I don’t claim to be an expert or even a particularly knowledgeable person when it comes to the subject of Planet Earth. I failed geography and history, abysmally at school. However, I do care about what we are doing to our world and beyond. I care about all the people who have suffered and lost their lives, those who are still suffering and those who will suffer in the future whether it be by natural causes, illness, disasters, war, violence, poverty or by any other means.

I care that we are destroying our planet; destroying our population; destroying our people, wildlife, and nature. I care that we are ravaged by war and violence; that we are polluting our planet and the atmosphere. I care that a huge number of people are homeless, roaming the streets, roaming the deserts, the plains, the forests and the wilderness. I could continue further, but many of us know the facts already.

A very close friend of mine, Katie, wrote this very moving poem which I wanted to share with you here….

The winds of Mother Nature are blowing on the Earth
Accepting all we’ve done to her since our sweet sacred birth.
There are babies curled in cradles unaware of hate and crime
Dreaming of their Mummies in the loving hands of Time.
Forgive us sweetest Mother for the ways that we’ve grown old
For independent streaks in us that turned our hearts too cold.
We’ve sinned so much we’re hurting and the pain is plain to see
That first we were so innocent on a gentle, rocking knee.
How love could turn to awful hate and safety turn to terror
Is based it seems on single thoughts that have their root in error.
Behind us and in front of us is such an awesome Love
That would have us in its gentlest hold in time with God above.
If only we could fall down flat and beg to stop the violence
Our hearts might cry sincerely out, then rest in hallowed silence.                                    

©Katie Marsh 2015

The recent and past atrocities have really brought home to me just how fragile our lives are. If only the power of love could overcome the power of war then maybe, just maybe we could experience peace in our time. Perhaps it would be a start

I am scared for all our futures; I’m scared for our children’s futures, our grandchildren’s futures and all future generations after that, if by then there is still a habitable planet to live on. The list goes on and on … and on … and on … and on … until infinity …

MAKE LOVE ~ NOT WAR.

.gif - power of love - power of war

BOSOM PALS AND ACQUAINTANCES

girl alone black and white

Suddenly, the stark realisation that I don’t have a best friend in the world hit me like a bolt of lightning from the sky. Not only do I not have a best friend but sadder still, I don’t think I have truly ever had a real, best buddy.

I have many social relationships and acquaintances – college friends, church friends, Facebook friends, blogging friends, neighbours, work colleagues, family members, and no doubt many people who I have not mentioned here, but none of these would I class as my bosom pal.

This realisation hits hard as I can’t help but wonder why this is. Is there something about me that no-one is telling me? Perhaps, I do have green ears and a purple tail (as one of my blogs was entitled a couple of years ago). Is there is something about me that I can’t see but others can?

As far as I know, I am a nice person (whatever ‘nice’ is). I don’t deliberately lie, nor cheat or steal. I am trustworthy. I like to go out of my way to be kind to people and to try not to hurt anyone purposely – not simply because it’s the right thing to do (in my eyes), but because that is how I genuinely feel. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, I always say. I’m also a great believer in ‘Praise where praise is due’and ‘Kindness costs nothing’.

I was the same at both primary and grammar school. I never had friends, even then. I used to spend break-times sitting on a wall, wistfully watching while the other children playing, or when I was a bit older, I’d stand like a wallflower on the perimeter of the playground, too shy to go up to anyone in the vain hope that someone might spot me and even consider me as a friend. Maybe, it was because I was very small (and quiet) for my age so I got bullied quite a lot. I just didn’t to seem to gel with my peers.

As I grew up and when my children were little in Nursery or the early years of school, I plucked up the courage to exchange a few words to a few of the mums also waiting outside to pick their children up. However, I think I was thought of as a bit of a leper once my ex-husband left, leaving me with the children who were still young then. It just wasn’t the done thing back in the 80’s (showing my age!). I think I was, at that time, the only single-parent family in the whole of the Infants.

When my children were at secondary school, I had to work my socks off, caring and cleaning for elderly people – anything to make ends meet. Fortunately, I’ve always enjoyed the company of older people and I did like my work. Some of the clients I’d go to would let me bring the children during the holidays. Tom and Clare treated it like an outing as we’d go armed with colouring books, jigsaws and Snap or Ludo which they all enjoyed playing together and which, invariably, my clients would let the children win.

So, I think with me, and ‘friends’ or even acquaintances, it’s a case of you win some you lose some and even the ‘some’ are often like ships that pass in the night. But, am I lonely? No, actually, I’m not. I like my independence (all be it that I need Carers twice a day) and I do generally enjoy my own company and having time to read, study and write etc. I get to choose what I want to eat and what I don’t want, I get to decide whether to watch TV or listen to music. The majority of the time I get to choose when to venture into town or further afield with George (my wheelchair) and best of all, I get to hog the duvet without any arguments🙂