This Too Shall Pass

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The recent wintry conditions have caused me to be stuck home alone for a week, time I spent photographing robins in my garden and reflecting about what a difference two years can make!

This time two years ago I was completely broken; I was ready to stop battling, stop falling deeper, stop crying, stop being on my knees, stop…just stop…and give up. But thankfully I had an angel nearby who caught me as a I fell and has held my hand ever since!

It is no exaggeration to say that 2015 was my annus horribilis. I had not been truly well for 6 years, incapacitated for 3, my positivity shield had slipped away and the grief for me and my old life was really kicking in. There was the daily battle (again no exaggeration) with the DWP on various fronts, which at one point left me trying to survive on just £50 a week. The severe lack of money forced the decision to give up my beloved little car and my independence, I was seldom well enough to drive any more anyway. Then there was a letter informing me that I needed to find a new home, and the cherry on the cake, not long before Christmas, the love of my life decided he could no longer cope and he walked out on me.

Two years ago there was a VERY black day, I simply could not cope with any more loss, stress or lack of control. Every aspect of my life had spiralled out of control, people I could once rely on for support were no longer there for me, the mental, emotional and physical toll had become too much to bear, the fight and determination in me had been well and truly squashed. There seemed no way forward, but I clung to my life buoy.

My guardian angel was with me that day and that day did pass.

Nothing about my circumstances suddenly changed, it still all seemed to be insurmountable, but I just took each day at a time, dealt with each and every practicality in turn. I look back now and really don’t know how I got through it all and many things are a complete blur.

But two months later I moved into my lovely new home, which is far better suited to my current needs and I gradually started to rebuild my life.

Two years on and I have moved on emotionally and mentally. I have started meeting new people and making some lovely new friends, people who truly care and understand. I am still working through my grief, but I am gradually letting go of identifying myself by the things I can, cannot or used to do and slowly getting to know the real person inside, the one always there, no matter what her body does or does not allow her to do.

If only I could go back two years, visit that desperately broken person who could see no way out, no way forward. If I could, I would tell her “This too shall pass”.

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How one small gesture can stop someone from feeling lonely

Having so much time alone at home can be incredibly lonely. Friends and family are all busy working, going out, going on holiday, living their lives. All things I so wish that I could still do! “A” is my main source of human contact, most weeks we go out twice and in between times, when I’m on rest days, she texts me to check how I’m doing or just for a brief chat. I speak to my Mum on the phone about once a week (none of my family are local to me), in the past we’ve spoken more frequently, but I have so little to say on the phone now, it’s not like my life is full of exciting things that I can tell her about!  I do go on Face book and Twitter, but it’s often quite impersonal contact with the outside world.

There are days when I feel this loneliness more than others, I do like my own company, I just have far more of it than I would like. Those are the days when I get excited when my phone pings to indicate that I’ve got a text message, but then my heart sinks to see it’s just EE telling me that my bill is available to view online, not a real person wishing to interact with me! I must confess that sometimes on those days I look at the clock and count down the hours until it’s a reasonable time to go to bed and declare that’s another day over with!

However, thanks to Face book, there is a friend whom I’ve not seen for over 20 years that I have reconnected with online. We shall call him “N”. He pops up on Face book Messenger for a chat every now and then and it’s great to have another human to interact with, even if it isn’t face-to-face (“N” lives 100 miles away from me). Today “N” was helping me to understand some technical jargon while I was trying to select a new wildlife camera online. We chatted on and off for a few hours. Having someone giving me technical help and advice was really useful, but it was also great to have some “company” for a while. Suddenly I wasn’t so lonely!

When I’m on rest days, I need to do just that, rest. So having physical company is not a good idea, as then I’m not resting! Even talking on the phone can be quite tiring for me at times, so it’s usually best kept fairly short. Even though if I could I would talk for hours! Text and online messaging seem to work quite well for me on these rest days. Sentences are usually shorter and more concise, so need less concentration and there is no pressure to respond instantly. So I can rest in between responses or reread messages if I didn’t quite understand them first time due to “brain fog”.

“N” made a real difference to my day today, by chatting to me and keeping me company and giving his invaluable help deciphering the camera technical jargon! It didn’t take up too much time out of his day, but it absolutely made my day. I day that I don’t feel so lonely is a good day! And a day where the time flies by without my noticing is even better!

However, he did then go above and beyond, while I was deciphering over a camera that was slightly over my budget and whether the extra features were worth the extra money, he emailed me an Amazon voucher to cover the difference! It was not a huge sum of money, but just enough to make a huge difference to me. This completely unexpected, but very thoughtful kindness moved me to tears, not a few gentle ones slipping down my cheek, but actual sobs of happiness! It wasn’t about the money, it was the absolute thoughtfulness and a gesture offered simply to make me smile and make my life that bit more bearable! “N” understands how much pleasure I will get from being able to record the wildlife in my garden at night or during other times that I am unable to watch and photograph them myself.

If you know someone who is chronically ill (physically or mentally) and stuck at home or in hospital the majority of the time, don’t under estimate the impact one little message, contact or gesture can make. Send them a text asking how they’re doing today, post them a card letting them know that you’re thinking of them, send them flowers or chocolates on a random day that’s not a special occasion, or reach out on Skype, Face book messenger, What’s App, email, a phone call or pop round to see them. Choose whichever method you feel is appropriate for the person involved. Your contact might be the only human contact they have had that day, week or month, so you have no idea how much it will mean to them and what a difference it can make to their life. It doesn’t need to be a huge gesture or anything costing a lot of money; the old adage “it’s the thought that counts” really is true!

Those that are fit and well are so busy trying to juggle all their commitments and get through each day, that sometimes they forget how the little things can mean so much, especially to those of us who cannot partake in life in the ways that we could before. One small gesture can stop someone from feeling lonely!