MIXED EMOTIONS (AND POTTING UP GERANIUMS)

elderly woman gardening

(Photo credit: http://www.healthtap.com)

Ok – so this isn’t a picture of my Mum and those plants aren’t actually geraniums, but to all intents and purposes, both of those things could have been facts as that’s exactly what my Mum would have been doing at this time of year if she were still here. She loved geraniums of all colours and would have been repotting them all into bigger pots as they would have grown after their dormant period in the dark and damp basement of the house. They would have all been neatly arranged on the patio outside the kitchen, making a huge splash of colour in the garden.

In fact, this was actually what she was doing along with mowing the grass, cutting the hedge and tying up raspberry canes just two weeks before she had her stroke last year. She remained in hospital from then until the day she passed away just before the New Year this year.

I miss my Mum. I hurt. I’m still hurting. I don’t when or if the hurting ever stops. I have photos of her in my living room and by my bed and yet, believe it or not, I can’t look at them. I cannot look at my Mum. I just am not able to ‘make eye-contact’ with her. Perhaps, it’s too early. Perhaps it’s the pain of not having her here anymore. Maybe, it’s the shame. Perhaps, the guilt that I wrote about in a previous post is telling me that she would be ashamed of me.

I can vaguely scan past the photos. I know the one on my desk in front of me so well. It was a photo I had which was taken only weeks before Mum had her stroke. It’s a picture of her in the garden which was always a sanctuary for her, with the big honeysuckle rambling up a large trellis covering part of the brickwork of the house behind her and next to that are the peach-coloured, climbing roses clambering up the wooden fence. The patio in front of her, adorned with pots, large and small of her favourite geraniums, orange, white and red, all in full bloom.

But, every time my eyes catch the slightest glimpse of her face or her eyes or smile in the photos, my heart is wrenched from my chest, and my mind is screaming, “Noooooo ….”  I cannot cry – I really can’t. My eyes are prickling from the sheer pressure of my tears building up behind my eyelids and fighting to get out. Maybe, I can’t can’t cry because I’m afraid that if I start, I won’t ever be able to stop. I want to go and visit her grave and lay fresh flowers there, but it’s 50 miles away with no public transport with wheelchair access so impossible. Sometimes, I still feel so close to her and almost forget for a second that she has gone. At other times, she seems so very far away.

All the legalities regarding the will, probate and selling the house are continuing to go on in the background. It’s so hard to think of my childhood home being taken over by someone else. Who knows what will happen to it … maybe, it will house another family for many more years although there is also the possibility that it will be completely gutted and turned into several flats and that’s much harder to stomach. Moving on, emotionally, isn’t easy but I have to remember too, that it was only five months ago that Mum was with us and living in that house.

Mum was a great one for ‘keeping things’, usually followed by, “It’ll come in useful for something”, a trait that I’ve inherited. Amongst all the ‘useful somethings’, we’ve unearthed photo albums, not just of our childhoods but also of Mum when she was growing up and even some of my great-grandmother in the 1800’s … real treasure … a pictorial history of my family on my Mum’s side … fascinating. It’s going to take me forever to sort through all of those photos and distribute them to our remaining family. They’ll certainly provide me with lots of happy and no doubt, funny memories too which will probably eventually get passed down to my grandchildren and who knows, perhaps their grandchildren one day? Actual history in the making. Mum would be pleased.

LOSING SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

abstract art holding hands attachment

More loss! How much more? It seems like an endless stream of significant other people in my life have departed or are leaving me. I am devastated and heartbroken. I don’t cope well with what feels like abandonment, especially as someone who has BPD or EID (Emotional Intensity Disorder) where this and rejection constantly loom like some ogre behind my shoulder, threatening to suffocate me.

I very recently lost my Mum (as some of you will know). This bereavement came five years after losing my Father. You could say that I should have expected these losses at some time, given that both my parents were in their eighties. However, this is always a major blow even after taking that into consideration.

Now, other important people in my life are leaving, and it’s beginning to get too much to bear. One of my two main Carers left last week, taking early retirement. Now, Helen, my P.A. and Support Worker is moving on after fifteen years with me. She is taking a different career path, and I will be acutely aware of her absence in my life.

Then, finally (at least for the time being) a very close friend announced yesterday that she was moving to the coast, eighty miles away to be nearer her daughter (we have known each other for nearly thirty years). We’ve had many happy times visiting places of interest, chatting over cups of coffee, pouring our hearts out to one another, and in general, putting the world to rights. We can phone or write, but with neither of us having transport or good health, it is unlikely that we will see each other again.

It’s all beginning to get a bit much, I’m lonely and am fighting hard not to fall into a pit of despair and depression. The friends that I do have seem to be mostly cyber-friends, either on Facebook, Twitter or WordPress. At least, in social media, I could put out some ‘friend requests’, but in real life, it’s not quite as easy as that. I guess if I reach the bottom, the only way to go is up, so I’ll try to hang on to that for the time being. Please, bear with me a little longer.

THE BUSYNESS OF GRIEF

Image result for white poppies

The funeral was beautiful in as far as a funeral can be thought of as ‘beautiful’. White poppies adorned the wicker casket which was interwoven with daisies and wildflowers and not the sombre, traditional dark wooden coffin that many people have. Mum was a great lover of flowers and plants, and she tended her little patch of garden so carefully over her 86 years. It’s sad to think of it being so neglected now as is the old and empty house which was my home for many decades.

It’s been six weeks since my precious Mum passed away. The sadness and loss will never leave us all, but it’s strange how people differ so much in their ways of dealing with grief. My youngest sister is very tearful and is deeply mourning the loss of my Mum. She’s unable to concentrate on her studies, nor cope with her part-time job. My other sister has travelled home again and has thrown herself into her work. However, she is frequently prone to breaking down in racking sobs and is in need of much consolation from her colleagues.

As for me, it’s as if nothing has happened. I think, if anything, I only feel numb and apart from weeping briefly at the first news of my Mum’s death (and I haven’t cried since that day), I am carrying on with life much as usual. I’m keeping myself very occupied and haven’t really stopped since the funeral. My life is as busy as ever and with assistance, I’ve been concentrating on sorting my house out as much as I physically can.

In fact, over the last two weeks, the whole of the downstairs of my house has been decorated. The builders have only just left and there is a huge mountain of mess to clear up. The smell of paint is lingering and I haven’t quite got used the new colour scheme yet. The new curtains are being put up tomorrow along with the new ceiling lights. It’s been ‘all go’ for a few weeks now and I’ve felt quite excited by it all but somehow, also exhausted in equal measure.

I know in my heart that my frantic busyness is just a way of coping, or perhaps, rather a way of not coping or not wanting to face reality because it is all too painful. However, reality has a way of kicking us in the ribs when we try to avoid it. There are Mum’s possessions to deal with and the house to sell. There is so much of everything to be sorted into heaps of ‘deal with now’ or ‘deal with later’.

There are so many practical issues to deal with that I haven’t had time for emotions. Emotions are something of which I’ve had far too many of in my life and I’m not welcoming these new and painful feeling that are threatening to engulf me. I have been fighting them off for weeks but I know, or at least I think I know that as soon as I stop rushing around, those emotions will not only wash over me but quite possibly drown me.

Frighteningly, this seems a distinct possibility and I find myself desperately looking for the person that can ‘save’ me. But then, I realise that very person is the one no longer with me other than in spirit and spirit doesn’t seem enough now. I’m not a child anymore and yet right now, I need my Mum more than ever and she isn’t there, and I have to face the painful fact that she will never be here again. Rest in Peace, Mum. Rest in Peace.

 

 

 

DEATH IN THE FAMILY

Dear Friends,

I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t been able to post anything on my blog these last few weeks and probably won’t for a couple more weeks at least, as very sadly, my Mother, who was very sick, passed away last week. I am devastated as I’m sure you can imagine. I hope to be back when everything has settled down. Thank you for your understanding. Ellie x  😥

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

LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE.

don't need to sit on a cactus

I certainly was given a cactus many years ago as is evident in my earlier writings about my very abusive childhood and not too pretty adulthood. I don’t intend to go back to that time of my life. It’s now a case of ‘been there; done that’, you’ll be pleased to hear. I’ve been sitting on the cactus for too long, and it’s getting too prickly so, now is the time to get off.

I’ve been taking life far too seriously of late so, although there may still be the odd solemn post because life isn’t always a bundle of laughs, on the whole, I want to lighten up a bit. [“Phew”] – Was that a big sigh of relief that I detected from my faithful followers? Yes? I don’t blame you – it’s as much of a relief to me as it is to you 🙂

Yep! It’s true that I will always have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or Emotional Intensity Disorder [as they are now beginning to refer to this condition] and this really can mess up my head at times. I’ve included an excellent link to explain what it’s like living inside the mind of some people with BPD. Please take the time to read it if you are interested – it’s not long-winded or boring, I promise: http://themighty.com/2016/07/how-to-explain-borderline-personality-disorder-to-loved-ones/

So, what of late? George (my new wheelchair, if you haven’t yet been introduced), is behaving himself brilliantly, and I love the fact that I can whizz down the path by the river at a colossal speed of 6mph. That’s 2mph faster than Charlie ever did although, fair credit to him – he did turn on a sixpence with much more finesse than George. George is nippier, although the little devil doesn’t much like getting up too close and personal with the veg section in my local Tesco’s. As for poor old Charlie, he’s sitting and looking very bored in the garage but as from today, he’s up for sale, on eBay listed as having been ‘a dear friend to one careful lady owner’ and ‘in need of a new home’. Although he’s seen better days and won’t go the distance anymore, he’ll do someone a good turn if they just want him for indoor and local use.

Oh, have I not mentioned the new addition to the family? I am now the very proud owner of a two gleaming, new, white patio doors (twins, of course). They’re sleeping soundly at present down at the dining-room end of my living-room. When they get mucky, they much prefer a duster to a wet-wipe. I’ve not named them yet; however, several names spring to mind, Tom & Jerry, Fred & Freda, Ant & Dec … I’m undecided. All suggestions are very welcome. They are looking very grand which is about the amount much they bumped up my credit card bill by. Needs must, though – with fair due, they’ve seen better days, 10,957 of them, in fact! I will bid you adieu while I leave you working out the equation of days into years.

 

LEAVING ON A JET PLANE

airplane1

This evening is possibly the last time my Mum will see my sister and it’s also the last time I will see her for some years too. Jo has been over from Australia for seven weeks now, initially flying here when Mum was so unwell after her recent accident. We thought then that she might not make it. She is recovering but is far from well. I said my farewell earlier and know that it’s going to be much, much harder for my Mum to say goodbye.  I had Jo here to stay with me a couple of times this trip, but mostly, she has been spending valuable and quality time, staying with my elderly Mum. They have been almost constant companions during that seven weeks.

I’m very concerned about Mum as she has rather got used to my sister being around and is going to miss her terribly. I don’t know how my Mum is going to adjust to the change. She has become used to being with someone as opposed to being on her own. I know she is scared at the prospect of living alone again, and I can’t say I blame her, living in that big, old, rundown house as she does with not even a friend or neighbour nearby who could pop in from time to time. She is two hours away from me, by train so I’m not able to do that either, as much as I would love to. However, I’m in the process of looking at finding some care and companionship for her although I know she will be reluctant to accept help, having always been such an independent lady.

Jo has a very long journey ahead of her, 27 hours including a brief stopover in Dubai for the plane to refuel. Her family, back in Australia have missed her. She has her husband and two grown children waiting for her to return. She is leaving our rather mild but wet summer and heading back to an icy winter. Once she gets back, we will have to get used to the time difference again – Australia being ahead of us by quite a considerable number of hours. She always has worse jetlag flying back home than she does coming here.

The flight leaves tonight, and I wish I were able to travel to the airport with Jo to see her off. I’m so pleased my youngest sister can go instead as Mum isn’t well enough to go to the airport either.  Families can be living miles or kilometres apart and yet remain so emotionally close. We all talk on the phone frequently, and I’m going to encourage our family to start using Skype. I already have it downloaded on my laptop, and I am hoping that both Mum and Jo will acquaint themselves with it too as they are both fairly staunch technophobes.

It’s 9 pm here, and as I look up into the sky and see the golden sun just going down over the rooftops, I am aware that very soon, my sister will be flying into that orange sky and will be on her journey to her home on the other side of the globe. I’m going to miss her.

Farewell and Bon Voyage, my precious sister. You will be in my thoughts and my prayers tonight as you travel the 10,000 miles between our respective parts of the world. I love you so very much.

MY BPD – FROM THE INSIDE, OUT

 

BPD shattered glass masks

I know this image looks a bit melodramatic but for anyone who hasn’t experienced BPD – yes – it is this dramatic some of the time. I was going to write a post about BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) in more general terms but have instead decided that I would explain how I feel, being open and honest about what it’s like to be me. This is how I experience living with my condition; in other words – me from the inside, out as the title says. Although I may appear tough and more often than not, smiling; I am in fact emotionally very fragile and often experience severe distress.

I am an exceptionally sensitive person – it is said that an individual with borderline personality disorder is akin to an individual with third-degree burns so that means that I can feel the equivalent severity of pain, not physically but emotionally. I feel everything at a very much more intense level than most people. I get emotionally hurt, extremely quickly and the ensuing distress is almost intolerable at times. I’m not terribly good at handling it although at least I don’t replace my pain with self-harming tactics anymore. Self-harming, as you may have read elsewhere, is an attempt to distract myself from the huge amount of emotional pain I am in.

On the other hand, I also have a tremendous capacity for huge amounts of love and joy and compassion to share with the world and those around me and that is something I make the most of and feel as strongly about as I do the agony.

I am also what is sometimes known as a quiet borderline, meaning that (contrary to popular belief), I rarely have fits of rage although of course, I have anger like everyone else. I have never wanted to be the centre of attention – in fact, I wouldn’t be even remotely interested in being the life and soul of the party – I can’t think of anything I’d like less of on the social scale. Give me a cosy corner, a book and a blog to write and that’s more my idea of amusing myself although of course I enjoy the company of a few good friends to share coffee or a meal with. Neither, do I like to draw attention to my inadequacies in a public way.

As those of you who know me well will recognise, I am frequently apologetic or forever saying sorry for who I am or for what I have written. (My self-esteem isn’t the greatest because of my experiences of severe childhood trauma), and I’m often being ‘told off‘ for putting myself down which I find only too easy. I rarely feel ‘good‘ enough and will often need your reassurance and approval to make me feel ‘ok‘ or ‘acceptable,’ even when I think that I might just be alright. This probably explains why I often go to bed at night or wake up in the morning worrying whether anyone has read/liked/hated/ignored or commented on my blog, or why I have endlessly fretted about what my WordPress ‘stats’ are doing. This isn’t as pathetic as it may at first sound – it stems from a chronic fear of being rejected or abandoned which is classic in BPD.

I’m sorry if this sounds like a plea for more attention to my blog, (it definitely isn’t), which I feel is mediocre at best compared to most blogs I read. I feel inadequate and not good enough most of the time despite reassurances, and this isn’t particularly a nice place to be. Please, don’t believe, for one minute, that this is ‘attention-seeking‘ behaviour. I hate that phrase – it makes me feel like a spoilt child who is having a temper tantrum and stomping my feet because I can’t get my way.

I ‘mind read‘ a lot, attempting to guess what people are thinking of me because I always feel people are thinking the worse of me. I worry about what you might be thinking of me despite your reassurances. I cannot help it. It is the way my brain is wired as also goes for all my other BPD traits. I don’t choose to be this way. My physical disability is far the less debilitating than my emotional tolerances.

Impulsivity is a ‘biggy’ in my life. It gets me into endless amounts of trouble and is the thing I find most difficult to control. It can vary from something obvious like spending money I haven’t got (usually on Amazon) to saying yes or no to a demand before I’ve thought it through properly. I then worry that if I back-track, changing my mind, I am not going to be ‘liked’ very much which ties in with the fear of rejection or abandonment, as mentioned above. I have also been known to get into trouble, (usually by the poor, embarrassed friend I happen to be with) for suddenly doing something entirely unexpected, like hugging that kind lady on the bus (or the waiter in a restaurant) because they were kind and I feel honoured because I don’t feel worthy of their kindness or praise.

I have to say that I am also prone to quite sudden mood changes (and I don’t mean Jekyll & Hyde style). I can be feeling as happy as a pig in clover one minute to being so low that I am down in the depths of the basement the next, often without any apparent cause.  I can assure you, it is just as confusing for me as it is for you, especially when everything can be reversed and or is interchangeable within minutes and I swing from one mood to another so intensely and so quickly.

I found this great YouTube video that is very different to all the others that I have seen about BPD that make me sound like some odd species or alien. It shows some of the most interesting points of living with this condition. As with everything, there are ups, and there are downs. Please take the time to watch it …

However, I have come a long way in my recovery, which is an ongoing process. I count myself as very blessed when I think of how ill I once was and the fact that I took so many chances, gambling with my life with drugs and alcohol, self-harm, and numerous severe overdoses. I’ve not had a drink for nearly four years and I’ve not self-harmed in any way other than bingeing on food occasionally, for four-and-a-half months.

I now lead a very active and busy life despite my disabilities, with college, art, drama, University speaking, coffee with friends,  and getting out into town and church with Charlie (that’s my electric wheelchair, not my ballroom dancing partner for those of you who have not met me before)!

My next goal is to take a ‘do-it-yourself’ certificate in something called DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) which is a very effective method of learning to live and cope successfully with BPD. It’s usually studied, and practised in groups under the Health Authority but this has been axed because of government funding cuts. Once I’ve done that (although that is something I’ll need to practice for the rest of my life), I’d like to move on to do my Public Health degree at my local university.

So, when all is said and done, I fight a good battle against one of the most difficult to cope with mental health conditions that many psychiatrists don’t like dealing with because it can’t be treated or controlled by drugs. Yes, I still take medication, but that’s more about dealing with the often accompanying symptoms of anxiety, panic, depression, etc.

I know and am grateful that I get a lot of support from some of my family and friends, both real-life and cyber friends, from my mental health team, my GP, college and university. I do indeed, count myself as extremely blessed and very fortunate. Thank you to you, for your support and your time and patience in reading this far in what I am aware is probably one of my longest posts. I truly appreciate it. Ellie x ❤

SHATTERED

shattered woman face

They say it never rains but it pours! The last few months has been one long succession of dramatic events, unfortunate happenings, life problems, family dramas and … need I go on?

Things are particularly bad right now which may explain the absence of posts again on my part and the same goes for reading all of your blogs. What can I do but apologize once more?

Right now, my Mum is in the main City Hospital, Trauma Unit after an accident. She has fractured her spine in two places and fractured her skull along with her nose. She also has kidney damage. Basically, she is truly shattered. She is on oxygen to help her breathe and is fairly out of it most of the time because of the powerful painkilling medicines she is receiving. She is in a neck brace because she has fractured a bone at the base of her skull too.

I am obviously extremely worried and upset, as you can imagine. I’m fifty miles away from Mum with no car to get there. I managed to get down there on Thursday with George (my new wheelchair) but it was a very difficult journey – three trains and two buses each way for me to get to the hospital on my own.

I found her fast asleep when I went in, partly because of the strong painkillers and partly exhaustion. After an hour, I woke her very gently and told I was there She couldn’t speak much but I know she knew that I was there.

She’s hardly able to eat and is not drinking much either. Fortunately, she is on a drip and is lying flat on her back with nothing to look at but a blank ceiling most of the time. That’s make her feel quite depressed (hardly surprising  under the circumstances).

Basically, my Mum is shattered! And as you can imagine, I am shattered, emotionally too. It’s awful to see my Mum in so much pain and with such severe injuries. I am thinking about her day and night and only wish that I could take her place so she didn’t have to suffer so much. I would in an instant. Mum is eighty-six and is physically, mentally and emotionally, a broken woman. My heart is breaking knowing that she is going through so much.

COME RAIN, COME SHINE

rainy city gif

Well, for today, at least, I’ve turned up like the proverbial bad penny. I’ve missed a lot, I know, in the time I’ve been away – humble apologies for my lack of attention to all your blogs, my friends. I will try and catch up at some point if I can.

They say ‘it never rains, but it pours’ and it certainly has been tipping it down here in my neck of the woods. Today is the first day that I’ve been able to write anything for nearly a month, and I’ve almost forgotten what WordPress Land and my blog look like!

I am a jumble of emotions right now – quite a few negative ones, unfortunately, but a  few positives thrown in amongst them to break up the monotony.

  • My Mum has been in and out of the hospital for the last few weeks. She has now been diagnosed with an extremely rare syndrome that only affects one person in a million. We are trying to come to terms with it. She is now home with Care (which, being a very independent lady of 85, she is not happy about). Nevertheless, at least, I know she’s safe which is a good thing.
  • A not so good thing is that I am receiving nasty, blackmailing emails (again) from a member of my family. How lovely! I am dealing with that one with some difficulty but a lot of grit.
  • I’ve got major problems with Charlie (my wheelchair). He had two new batteries last week at a cost of nearly £300 (needless to say, that’s bumped up the balance due on my credit card), and now he needs a new motor which is going to add another £300 to my debt.
  • One of my favourite Carers is leaving which always unsettles me as I have to build up a trusting relationship with someone who is working that closely with me.
  • My son, Tom, is going back to court to fight for custody of my two grandchildren who are only three and one. Their mother is not taking care of them properly and Social Services, in their wisdom, are turning a very convenient blind eye to the situation.

So, now let me throw a few positives into the mix!

Now, perhaps the world is looking a little more like this.

rain on glass

  • My niece. Gemma (who is 23 which makes me feel quite ancient) has flown on her own (with the help of an aeroplane, naturally) halfway round the world to visit our family for the first time.
  • It gets even better now; my sister is also flying from the other side of the planet to visit me on 1st June. It’s going to be wonderful to see her and give her a real, warm and genuine hug as opposed to those non-touchy-feely cyber hugs that I usually have to send.
  • It’s Easter weekend and although I cannot get to church to celebrate (thanks to Charlie),  I can, at least, soak up the atmosphere of ‘Songs of Praise’ on my laptop and even join in with the singing if the mood so takes me.
  • My neighbour has just come back from holiday and I said I’d keep any eye on the house. As I cannot actually see her house from where I’m sat, it’s more like keeping an ear on her house as we are semi-detached and not a lot escapes my radar. She popped in on her return and has brought me a beautiful, neat bunch of daffodills which are my favourite spring flowers.
  • Good news too in that I have found a children’s ‘soft play area’, not far from where I live which means my son might be able to bring my two little ones to see me without the worry that they are in reach of all my medical equipment, sockets and general disability paraphernalia.

So, finally, perhaps the world is beginning to look a little like this again … x

small vase of daffodills