Once again I have experienced the lightening of soul which comes with being stubbornly, determinedly and abandonedly thankful.
Today, as I draft these notes in the back of my van, between patients, I am able to list ten things I am genuinely thankful for. And it’s such a huge relief.
He’s been depressed with varying degrees of severity since the beginning of our courtship (though back then it was much masked by the excitement of a blossoming relationship) but since the deterioration of his health; the ensuing diagnoses, treatments and outcomes, it has been very much up and down. But mostly down. And often very down. And on Thursday, after a respite(ish) of about six months when things have been mostly okay (even reaching a few ‘up!’ moments), a series of circumstances, realities and events kicked him over the edge again.
He let me know how bad he was feeling and then followed with a series of frank (and previously voiced last time he was low) statements filled with despair, nihilism and sadness. Then stopped messaging, sending me through about half an hour of intense panic in the middle of my working day. I was was seeing patients who observed only the consummate, smiling, professional, whilst inside I was coming unhinged.
[And I wonder why one of the things Husby tells me is “You’d be happier if I wasn’t here, dragging you down.” – I can’t even begin to counter that, because depression makes everyone miserable, but I would be MORE unhappy without him in my life, and I DO tell him that, at least]
Meantime, though, I was frantic, and so very fortunate to have a safe space online where I could pour out my woes and anxieties and be heard by people who care. I was immediately surrounded with calm and comfort and support from this group of incredibly wonderful people, and their words were like balm, soothing the jagged panic which threatened to overwhelm me, enabling me to continue working until Husby got back in touch.
He wasn’t going to kill himself – he was just sad beyond all description. And was unable to find any point to being alive. But we could still go out on our date that evening.
When I picked him up, he got into the car and I dissolved into tears. Which made him feel worse. [You see the problem with this cycle? It’s a bastard, I tell ya!] We had a frank and uncomfortable chat. And yes, he loves me very much, and his family, and my family, but not enough that we collectively provide sufficient point for him to feel like his continued existence is worthwhile.
Today he phoned the doctor, who has upped his medication and referred him for (another) course of counselling. Fingers crossed it works. But really I don’t hold much hope. Husby holds less. We’ve been battling this cycle for a long time, and it doesn’t look set to change. There is no ‘point’ I can give him which he doesn’t reject out of hand, or hasn’t over-thunk and decided against. I shall just have to hope that something, somewhere, clicks.
I was so emotionally wrung out, I went to bed early. And got up still tired. And as I drove the Big Dog Van to my clinic today, in bright sunshine, which seemed to mock me with its cheerfulness, I decided that if I was going to be in a crappy situation I might as well start being damn well thankful for the things I could be thankful for.
And so with much concerted effort, my list was created.
Sunshine – and the lightness it gives to the evenings, and how the world seems to sparkle and glow under it. The very flowers and leaves are crying out in happiness to see so much of it. It is warm and delicious and I do love that it finally seems to be summer (as an adjunct, I’m very thankful for hayfever medication…)
Driving – most mornings I get sent out in the van to a clinic within the county of Hampshire. This involves anywhere between ten minutes and a little over an hour of driving. The longer drives are my favourites, in spite of the earlier start and according later finish, because they allow me time to think, mostly in beautiful surroundings (much of Hampshire is rural, and the New Forest National Park is stunning), which lifts my spirits, distracts me from whatever I need distracting from, and gives me a good dose of nature. Case in point, coming home Friday, stuck in a traffic jam, busy watching the beautiful white, sparkling clouds and the pair of buzzards circling lazily on the thermals over a roundabout, occasionally swooping into one of the cluster of tall pine trees, where I imagine their nest was.
Friends – with whom I can be truthful and honest. Who care about me and check in with me. Who do their best to raise my spirits when I’m down, and who celebrate with me in the good times. I have many of these, and I am thankful for all of them, for each in their own way holds an important part in my network of happiness.
Hula-hooping in the garden – after a challenge from Mandi, I took up hula-hooping, with what might be a left-over chunk of gas piping. After a frustrating first try one evening, when I discovered that anti-clockwise is easier, I’ve spent three very pleasant half-hours after work in the garden, plugged into my MP3 player, singing merrily away to myself and hula-ing my heart out. I’m almost consistent and my drop-rate is significantly less at this end of the week. I’ve also been practicing handstands and once managed (a very quick) five seconds of uprightness before falling flat.
Responsive MPs (maybe) – because after I emailed him to tell him I was angry that Niece and Neff’s bedroom window got shot through, he replied the next day to ask for her details. I’m now waiting to see whether he contacts her. If not, I will be in touch with him again. And again. And again. Until I get some answers about why the police were allegedly unable to do anything constructive about protecting my family.
Ten Things of Thankful Facebook Group – Okay, shameless plug, but it’s fun, and I’ve already found it helpful and uplifting as the week has gone on, and members have created little vignettes of thankful, shared their good things, and a bunch of inspiring pictures.
My Dad (well, it *is* father’s day) – I have learned a lot from him, my favourite probably being a love of cooking, and the ability to do so with some panache. I really enjoy cooking and can talk at length with foodie friends, with some degree of knowledge. I’ve also learned a lot of my Dad’s sense of humour – sarcasm, a bit of vitriol and quite a lot of silly. When this combines with cooking, you get the on-and-off game we play, of coming up with absolutely the WORST combination of foods ever. Currently the record is held by chocolate-covered whelks. I’d like to take this opportunity to up the ante and suggest that a curried oyster and marmite cheesecake might be worse.
Poetry – which allows me to say the things I want or need to, or just fancy saying, in a lovely artsy-fartsy way which people enjoy. This week I wrote a piece on how we all have music within us. The Well Tempered Bards is back up and running, and I already have three very exciting guests lined up, so check it out and if you want to contribute, let me know, and I’d be pleased to cast my eye over a submission. We’ve had some absolutely CRACKING Guest Bards so far, and it’s a great way of getting your poem (and your good self) pimped a bit.
The Beach – because even when I’m not there, I can imagine the shoreline, the smell of salt in the air, and the gentle sound of the ocean breaking and breaking on the shore – the sound of the earth breathing – and I feel calmer. It’s not quite meditation, but certainly finding the beach in my mind is something special and safe and helpful. The sight of the sea twinkling under the sunny, blue skies; the wheeling and high, keening cries of the seagulls; the memory of the breeze in my hair and the feel of sand under my shoes; even internally, is a treasure every bit as cherished as the shells I bring back to help me remember.
Music – I am so, SO lucky that my job requires me to listen to the radio all day long. And that my favourite station is so very good. Plenty from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s (with occasional forays into the more recent past). Music uplifts, cheers, inspires, distracts and calms me. I can hook into it and be part of the song. I can unhook from whatever thought processes are bugging me at the time. After music, I feel better. Sometimes it’s a slow process, but it gets me there in the end.
Have you had a moment this week where you realised that in spite of the struggles of life, there were things to be very thankful for? Have you been rescued by friends lately? Or had the honour of being able to be there for someone close to you? Over to you…