Tuesday 8th June
A walk to the Island
Great views over the bay
So many watercraft
The Navy's come to play
With many world leaders
All coming together
The G7 meeting
In fabulous weather
Thinking of you sweetie
Treasured Angel son
Monday 10th October
Ripples of grief undulate outwards
Moving away and bouncing back
Ripples that will be felt forever
Sometimes throwing you off track
Now and then ripples turn into waves
Gathering height and much power
Crashing and knocking you sideways
Unexpectedly, your breath to devour.
But today, ripples have a slow rhythm
Sparkling gently across the clear sea
The crisscross patterns moving
As if they’re bringing you back to me.
Thinking of you.
Friday 18th December
I’m just about holding it together,
But the mask I wear is growing thin.
I knew it was going to be difficult.
This Christmas for families and kin.
It will be our first one without you.
I just wish I could fast-forward
To a time beyond the holidays,
And not feel quite so awkward.
I don’t want to spoil it for others.
I’ll try hard to join in and smile.
But please excuse me if I leave
Just to think about you for a while.
I’ll look sadly at that empty chair,
Then look up to the stars at night.
For that’s where I shall find you,
A twinkling Angel shining bright.
Missing you so much my darling.
It’s hard to believe you’re not here.
When all around us, everywhere,
Is full of the joys of festive cheer.
Thursday 9th July
Having missed Session 2 last week due to having minor surgery to remove a mole from my arm, I’m all ready for this next instalment of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: managing your actions.
So, what did we learn today, hey?
Stressed people think more anxiously about their life.
Stressed people avoid difficult situations, and may use safety behaviours as a way of coping.
Depressed people tend to withdraw from normal activities.
Stressed people tend to be on the lookout for threats.
Depressed people can feel isolated and lack confidence.
Okey dokey, I think I know all that to be true. So, what’s to do about it?
1. Work out exactly what the problem is. Take on the problems one at a time. Break down each problem into smaller chunks. Putting this into practice will mean a greater sense of control.
2. Facing the fear can test the reality of your feelings. Think about “What is the worst thing that can happen?” Brainstorm as many options or outcomes as possible, then weigh up the pros and cons. Work out a step by step plan, put it into action, then review the outcome.
3. Removing safety behaviours to confront fears. Some feel they need something to protect against threats or that which cannot be controlled. Working out what these are, or the ‘props’ that are used, is the first step. (Having ready-made excuses, medication in one’s pocket, having a drink before going out).
Thinking about how these safety behaviours help or hinder, predict what would happen if they were not used.
Again, work out a step by step plan, put it into action and then review the situation. Start to remove as many safety behaviours as possible.
Well, I’m not sure how much of that applies to me, a lot of it was common sense.
And then we moved on to 20 Tips for Coping with Stress: things to consider
1. Deal with problems on the spot.
2. Nurture strong, confiding relationships.
3. Slow down.
4. Break problems up.
5. Avoid Must’s and Should’s.
6. Coping with ruts.
7. Take one thing at a time.
8. Look and sound relaxed.
9. Learn from past experience.
10. Don’t accept other people’s targets.
11. Healthy eating.
12. Stop smoking.
13. Situations outside your control.
14. Build relaxation into your life.
16. Do the worst thing first.
17. Don’t try to be Superman or Wonderwoman.
18. Confide in others.
19. Other people’s shoes.
20. Keep up a routine.
So there we have it, in a nutshell.
Much to think about, lots I already put into practice.
But it’s not going to lift me out of this depressive hole I find myself in at present. That will take time, an awful lot of time. There is no predetermined exit point to actually stepping out into the light at the end of the tunnel. It will happen at some time, and I know I have to believe in that, otherwise what is the point? I do know I won’t feel like this forever. My depression is the result of the enormous grief I feel over the unexpected loss of my son. I’m allowed to feel like this, for the moment. But not always. I’ve got to tell myself that it will get better.
Thinking of you, my sweetest Angel in heaven xxxx
Thursday 25th June
Instead of sailing across the sparkling, blue ocean, aboard my father’s yacht, I’m floundering in the sea, with the surf breaking over my head, and all I can see are bigger waves on the horizon. What I once had and enjoyed, has now sunk without a trace. Well, that’s what it feels like to me.
Maybe I’m a bit cynical, or I just know what the problem is, but today’s hour and a half course on Stress, left me, well, stressed.
Today I attended the first of four sessions, entitled The Stress Less Course.
I know all the stressful feelings I experience: numbness, guilt, low mood, jealousy, discomfort, insecurity, futility, hopelessness, upset, flat, tearful.
I know the stressful thoughts I experience: worry, cut-off from others, poor concentration, hard to relax, loss of interest, no get up and go.
I know that stress has affected my actions: avoidance of doing things or going places, withdrawal, avoidance of responsibility, eating less.
I know how stress has affected my body: tension, drained, headaches, tiredness, shallow breathing, stomach pains, insomnia,
I know what has caused my stress, that leads then to depression.
My own health has led me to deal with huge changes in my life recently. That I have Stage 3 malignant melanoma is something I think I have accepted since being diagnosed in 2013.
My father passed away in 2009 from Pancreatic Cancer.
My mother is in a Care Home as she has the beginnings of dementia.
My elder son passed away fifteen weeks ago today, diagnosed with Testicular Cancer, having undergone 99 days out of 100 days of chemotherapy treatment.
Oh, and I’ve been signed off work since the day my son died.
So my stress is caused by depression, life problems, anxiety, sleep problems, health problems.
I suppose this afternoon’s session was introductory, and necessitated going through all aspects of stress, anxiety and depression. But I did find it stressful, in that I had to think about what it was that created the stress, and what I should or shouldn’t do about it.
And yes, I know there are coping mechanisms, and things I should be doing to help myself, gently along the way.
I take anti-anxiety medication and sleeping tablets. I don’t smoke, nor do I drink alcohol, but I do like my cappuccinos. I try to exercise by going on a daily walk to increase my normal heart rate. Our diets are improved, and include much fruit, vegetables, fish and chicken. And I find writing about my feelings in this blog, quite therapeutic. I’m also trying to raise awareness and money for a testicular cancer charity, in memory of our son. I also have a goal to focus upon, and that is to climb Mount Snowdon in August.
What I also need to do is learn relaxation techniques, and diaphragmatic deep breathing.
I know I won’t be able to change what has happened, but I would like to feel better about myself, to have my once positive attitude back.
The biggest cause of my feelings of depression is, of course, the death of my son. My grief is, and has been, all-consuming. I don’t think I’ll ever come to terms with it. Our lives have been changed forever. The future that we thought we were headed towards has now disappeared, and we don’t know what path to take.
Maybe this group therapy to come to terms with stress, anxiety and depression will be of use to me.
But it won’t bring my son back.
It won’t change the past.
But I need to be able to swim again, without feeling I’m drowning, being able to hold my head above the waves, and reaching the shore without a struggle. The waves will always continue to break, the tides will rise and fall, I know I can’t stop the inevitable, but I’d like to be able to go with the flow, and enjoy the current as it takes me to somewhere better than where I’m stranded at the moment.
As always, thinking of you, my dearest sweet Angel xxxxx
Monday 27th April
Shortly after ten this morning my trials nurse phones to tell me the results from the tests I had almost two weeks ago. I have malignant melanoma, (stage 3c), and have been on a clinical drugs trial, Combi-Ad, since January 2014. It is an adjuvant treatment combining two drugs, Dabrafenib and Trametinib. It is a double-blind trial, so I don’t know whether I was taking the real thing or a placebo. But the monitoring has been incredibly worthwhile.
Anyway, the drugs part is now over, and I’m seen every three months, for check-ups in dermatology, haematology, oncology, and also have CT scans.
My nurse was happy to report that all is normal, with no evidence of metastatic disease. Plus, my thyroid gland shows normal levels from a blood test, as the oncologist thought it did perhaps look slightly enlarged.
So there we have it. I am normal.
But that’s not what I feel right now. Very far from normal. I wish everything was normal, like it was before. Before we lost our son. I cannot get used to this new normal. I seem to be ‘well’, but that is nothing to celebrate without my son being here. That sounds a little selfish, but I just wish we had had more time with him. We had so many plans, so many more places to visit, so much more fun and laughter to have.
Early afternoon sees us visiting our son’s graveside, to remove some of the old greenery from the floral tributes. We bought a basket of yellow marigolds, that should bring some bright colours for him.
This now, has become our new normal. Standing beside his grave: talking, wishing, tidying, crying, just wanting to be close to him.
I don’t like this new normal at all.
Sunday 26th April
Having come to visit you today and standing by your grave, it is so difficult to say goodbye and walk away. It’s as if we are turning our backs on you, and carrying on as normal, without you.
That is so far from the truth. We are struggling to cope with the adjustments we are having to make. We believed you would always be a part of our family life. That we would always be together. Planning days out, booking holidays, having fun, looking after you. Much of the last thirty years was centred around you. Our son. With special needs. A loving, caring, gentle child.
It is natural for us to have wanted you to remain with us forever. That was how it should have been.
You have been taken from us, but the love we have for you will never ever be taken away. The depth of our love for you, that all your family, friends and acquaintances had for you, will ensure some things will live on forever; memories, events, and that special place that you hold in many peoples’ hearts.
Love you lots.
To the moon and back.
Love you more.
And all the world.
Saturday 25th April
Not a lot to say today.
Feeling lost and lonely without you.
Missing your company, missing you so very much, missing everything you did for us and with us.
But we’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other, and try to overcome these obstacles of painful distress.
It just doesn’t seem right that you’re not here with us.
Sending love and kisses to heaven xxxx
Our son, now forever young x
Friday 24th April
It’s grey and damp, and the mizzle sticks to your clothing and hair, covering you with a fine beading of moisture droplets. The songbirds are singing their springtime melody and a grey squirrel skitters down the trunk of a tree.
The council gardeners have been along this morning, mowing the grass, and tidying up the cemetery. And we have decided to do the same at your graveside. It’s been sixteen days since your interment, and some of your funeral flowers are not looking their best. We pick out those that have wilted and gone a bit brown. Your name in letters though, still looks amazing; the white chrysanthemums have been splendid.
We have brought along a new, heavy, stone rose-bowl pot, in which to place sprays of flowers. Today we have chosen orange and white carnations for you.
We stand silently, remembering, reflecting, reminiscing. It is such a peaceful, but sad place to be.
You are not alone. We will always be with you. We’ll look after you.
Sleep tight my darling boy xxx