Relative Calm… yeah right!

I have a mentor buddy. We meet up every six months or so. It works really well for me (and I hope them too!). Instead of a traditional mentor/mentee relationship it is more about reciprocity and mutual support.  We set some goals, we talk about how stuff is going, we review where we got to on our last set of goals. We cover both work and family stuff. 

We met last week and at that point things felt great.  I felt like I was riding a wave.  Like I had been struggling to get up on a surf board for ages, but now that I had, I could see the whole beach and was riding in to shore. 

It was a good opportunity to reflect on just how much had happened in the last six months.  When I last met with my buddy in November I wasn’t even sure that we would get planning permission to build the granny annex. I thought we might have to sell up and move somewhere bigger and cheaper. I wasn’t sure our marriage would cope with the stress of three generations in one home; and I had just started out on my new business with only one client and a big gaping hole and a lot of uncertainty about how I was going to pay the bills.

Fast forward to last week. Now mum and dad are settling in to their annex and starting to be more independent. Preparation for my big run – my first half marathon-is going well back in November I hadn’t even started training. Hub is back on his medication and seeing a therapist and is incredibly supportive of the fact that work is super busy with around 7 different clients.

And all of that is still in place…

But we have had a hell of a start to the week this week and it’s only Wednesday.  Part of me wonders if I am living in some weird version of the Truman Show (for those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s a Jim Carrey movie where he thinks he is living a normal life, but actually he is the star of a reality TV show he’s been in since birth.  Anyway, feels like just as we manage to cope with everything and life calms down, it becomes ‘boring TV’ and the producers of the TV reality show that is our life start heading more crap our way. 

My mum, who has a far stronger faith than I do, always says that ‘God never sends you more than you can handle’, and no doubt that is true and we will be fine, but I do kinda wish I just had a little time to catch my breath. 

In fact, it is interesting that at my mentor buddy session I didn’t make any big commitments, which is totally unlike me.  My plan for the next six months was to 1. Run the half marathon without stopping 2. Be ok with no major goals, just enjoy the relative calm, settle and try and consolidate 3. Explore a new business idea I have but don’t put any pressure on and 4. Put more time in at home with hub and get a better work-life balance. 

And I will do all those things.

But on Monday lots of things happened.  My sister in law (my hub’s sister) had a beautiful, healthy baby; my mum’s brother died (he had been sick for a while so we had been expecting it); and hub’s mum had a major fall, shattered her pelvis. She is now unlikely to walk again as they cannot give her the surgery she needs due to all the other health complications she has. She will be in hospital for 6-8 weeks.  Hub is shaken; and I’ve not really been able to support him at all this week as have been all over the country with work.  I think the right thing will be for him to go to be with his mother and help out his sisters overseas especially as one has her hands full with a three-day-old; but, equally I am thinking about how we then juggle work, and care in our home if he is gone.

In the end all we have is family and that has got to come first; and certainly before my client commitments.  Not sure what will happen next, but certainly doesn’t feel like the ‘relative calm’ six months I was imagining last week.   

And exhale…

I’ve been super busy, with half term, work, life, and I just quickly had a look at my last post and it made me realise just how far things have moved on in the last two weeks and that I needed to blog. In part this blog has been about connecting with others, but it has also been about enabling me to track progress and see how far we have come.

Just over two weeks ago, my parents moved into the annex at the bottom of our garden. After three months of all living together I can’t tell you how much of a relief it has been to everyone. My dad almost immediately and instantly changed.  He still has dementia, he is still sleeping, but not for the whole day every day. And when the kids go out to visit him, he isn’t swearing at them and telling them to F* off.  It’s amazing what I now count as a good outcome… my father not swearing and scaring my kids!  I guess it is all relative.

There is still quite a bit of work to do; finishing the tiling, putting up guttering and not least sorting out the path so that I don’t have a 75 year old and 80 year old traversing a higgledy-piggledy line of pallets to their door over a boggy, clay mess. But despite that there are still things to do, on balance things are feeling so much better. Our house feels physically happier.

Over the last two weeks hub and I have also had some fairly major conversations- some have gone well, others have been horrendous, really really tough.

Hub stopped his medication about two months ago, his therapy finished and he has lost his way with his CBT plan.  He is overwhelmed and on some days struggles with the smallest things – making lunch, getting the kids to school. I know he feels incredibly guilty about it all.

As someone who loves someone with anxiety and depression – both major lifelong illnesses – I can’t understand why he can’t reach out for help the way I want him to.  But equally being on twitter and connecting with people who have similar illnesses, and connecting with those supporting others with mental illness  has given me a different perspective and made me realise just how hard every day is for him, and how much worse it could be.

We had another night away, courtesy Groupon, last Friday. My brother and his lovely girlfriend came to look after the kids and the grandparents so we got a bit of a break.  We really needed it. 

When we came home hub went straight out to a football match with one of his ex-colleagues, a doctor, who it turns out had suffered from a major period of depression himself.  And by the end of the weekend hub had decided he needed to go back to the GP and that he was going to start exercising more (one of the biggest bits of advice from his friend).

So last week, we went to the GP together. We now have a plan in place for the next month with regard to drugs, he’s referred himself for talking therapy and I think (as I type) he is at bootcamp!! I know he feels bleak, and lacks the confidence that any of this will help; but I can’t tell you how proud I am of him!

Final take on online CBT

I wrote this post a week or so ago, the day after I finished by online CBT class… Here it is.

I’ve finished my four sessions of online CBT. Looking back through the transcripts what have I learned? 

I’ve learned that I have a lot on my plate, and it’s ok to feel frustrated, angry and overwhelmed.  I’ve learned that my reactions are normal and understandable. But also, that I don’t need to immediately react in a frustrated, overwhelmed and angry way. I’ve learned when I do react in this way it affects my mood, makes me feel guilty and then impacts everyone else in the house.

I’ve learned through my sessions that if I can give myself space before I react; and if I use this space to reflect and consider my response before I make it, I’ve got a much better chance of ensuring things don’t escalate.  I’m coming across like someone with anger management issues… I’m not! Honest!

I’ve also learned that this is much easier said than done!  I’ll need to keep practicing and practicing until it becomes automatic, just like driving a car.

So all in all I think that’s quite a lot to have learned in the space of 2 hours (4 x 30 min online sessions). Go me!

Over the last few weeks I do feel like I’m coping better with all the utter ridiculousness headed my way.  Our builder messed up the plastering and doors in the granny annex and then walked out, our neighbour complained about the pipes we’ve laid, building control have said they aren’t happy, hub is overwhelmed, confused and struggling as he’s having to cope with his depression, anxiety, three kids, and managing a pretty major building project along with my parents as I’ve been out at work every day. All of this has pushed the move-in date for my parents back which is adding to the tension in the house.  It’s cold and dark. My mother is regretting moving and then confronted me about hub saying she thinks he is unwell. Well duh, yes I know that, but obviously I can’t talk with her about it, which seems ridiculous as it is so obvious how unwell he is.  But even with all this I’m feeling surprisingly resilient and optimistic. 

The plumbing work should be finished by Sunday, as should the kitchen so my parents should be out the house and in their own space with their own things by next week.  I taught my parents how to catch the bus so hopefully mum can start to feel a little less cooped up and more independent. I managed an 8.5 mile run on Tuesday. 

I am massively worried about hub at the moment, but I’m learning to recognise the things that I can help him with and the things I can’t. I’m starting to think more consciously about when it is useful to go into ‘fix it’ mode, and when it isn’t. And this is a big one for me, I am realising that sometimes my trying to ‘fix’ things makes them worse.

Ultimately I’m feeling good because I know things will be ok, and that taking a deep breath, or five!, before I react really does help.  

‘Incident’ on a train

I’m on the train on the way to one of my clients.  Ordinarily I quite like this commute. It 90 mins long, but the trains are quiet, I have time to think, read, tweet and blog. Today it’s been different.

About 20 minutes into the train journey we had an accident.  Turns out the train hit a person at a level crossing, not sure of the outcome for the person, but the emergency crew just walking through the carriage says it isn’t good. 

I’ve been quite frustrated by the guard on our train.  There’s lots in the news and from the train unions about how important guards are, but to be honest ours hasn’t been great. From the time we first stopped he’s been talking about an incident and an accident.  Why can’t he say someone has been hit?  On the official twitter handle for the train company they have said someone was hit, why the dehumanising language for the passengers on the train involved?  As far as the passengers on the train are concerned we could have hit a low hanging branch not another human. 

Whilst I’ve been typing someone just tweeted me pointing out that the guard was probably concentrating on supporting the traumatised driver. Fair point, now I feel bad for thinking badly of him, but I do think language is important. Why say someone’s death is an ‘incident’?

For the last 90-minutes I’ve been in a carriage with no lights, no heat, 0 degrees outside and about 50 hysterical private secondary school students on their journey to school. Not an ideal start to the day, but I’ve been messaging my husband and it’s been making me think.  How would someone with anxiety cope in this situation? Stuck, noisy and with no control or idea what is going on or when it will end.  Hoping there are no anxiety sufferers on board today because our guard surely isn’t helping!

It’s also got me thinking about depression and suicide.  Sending them and their family so much love. Can’t imagine how it must feel to be in a situation where your life feels so overwhelming that death is the only option. Makes me so grateful for all I have.  That man’s poor family was probably thinking it was a normal day, and now it is totally devastating. 

It also got me thinking about why some people choose such public ways to take their own lives.  Not got any clever thoughts or neat resolutions on these big issues, but sometimes it’s just good to reflect, look at your glass, realise it isn’t full, but it’s certainly more than half full and be grateful for all that you have.  And though I am cold, and the teens are still braying I’m grateful.  


Online CBT and me

Last week I posted my somewhat mammoth to-do list for the first three months of 2017… So far I’ve failed at least two of my commitments…

I ran only twice last week instead of the three times in my training schedule; but, to be honest I’m not too bothered about that because I still managed to run seven miles without stopping on Sunday – the longest I’ve ever run in my life and I feel well on the way to being able to run a half marathon in March… Go me!

However, the second failure I’m a bit more worried about. I’ve taken on more work, which I said I wouldn’t do until my parents were all moved in to the annex. I committed to do this to help take some of the pressure off hub. But now I’ve accepted work which means for the next month I’ll be working every single day.  Why didn’t I just say no to the new work? I can’t back out now, but I’m worried about the impact it will have on hub and the kids. Arggh.

But the point of this post isn’t to beat myself up, so I’ll stop doing that.  The point of this post is to reflect on my first online CBT session ahead of my second one today. 

My hub did a  face-to-face CBT as part of his depression and anxiety treatment about a year ago. At the time, it really seemed to help, although a year down the track most of the positive impact has now disappeared.  There’s lots of evidence which shows that some mental health issues are very well treated by CBT and other sorts of talking therapies, and while I don’t have a mental health condition when my GP suggested I might want to consider CBT  I jumped at the chance.

In part I jumped because it fit well with my ambitions for self-care this year, in part to see if I could pick up any hints to help re-ignite my hub with the positive impact it had on him last year and also just out of plain curiosity, particularly given my CBT is online… Would I be able to connect with someone who was just words on a screen rather than a voice, or a person whose body language I could read… and more importantly would I be able to type fast enough?

So I shared my mega list of commitments with the therapist. The therapist was polite, but also pretty clear that I needed to focus on one or two things that I could achieve that week that would stop me feeling overwhelmed.  And in part I acknowledge that by setting myself too big a to-do list I am setting myself up to fail.

I guess lots of you know what CBT is all about, but I’ve only just understood that it isn’t about fixing all the things that are overwhelming me at the moment… being the sole breadwinner, my worries about my hub and his mental health, the fact my mum knows exactly how to push all my buttons, my dad’s dementia, accompanying mood swings and the impact it is all having on the kids. And I guess I need to be upfront that I’ll probably struggle with the fact that CBT isn’t about fixing.  I am a fixer, so the fact that CBT is not about fixing anything or looking at root causes is probably going to grate for me.  But I’m going to keep going and see where I get to.

I poured my heart out about how upset I get when my dad calls my kids f**king idiots, or when I find my hub head in hands. I realise that all too often I jump in and tell my dad that his behaviour is unacceptable. The reality is that he can’t control his behaviour, he then gets in even more of a strop when I confront him, which makes me feel even more angry and overwhelmed that he won’t take responsibility…. Yes, I realise that expecting someone with a severe cognitive impairment to take responsibility for their actions is totally unrealistic… but it doesn’t stop me from doing it.

This week, as a result of the first CBT session, I’ve focused on three interrelated things – Being more in control of my response when mum, dad or hub does something that winds me up.  The therapist advised that when something like this happened I need to remove myself from the situation either physically or emotionally by taking 5 deep breaths.

I’ve tried her approach this week, at least 30 times, which probably demonstrates just how many times a week I feel frustrated or overwhelmed.  Perhaps the most difficult incident was when my dad decided to lift one of the kids (which he obviously couldn’t do), then they both came crashing to the floor, leaving dad with a black eye and middle child squashed by granddad.  I gave cuddles, took deep breaths and didn’t get angry at anyone.  And actually I felt a lot better as a result.

Can’t say I’m really connecting with an online entity typing to me, but the advice seems to be working, and I’ve learned I’m a much faster typist than I gave myself credit for!


Inability to focus or just a good list maker?

I started an online cognitive behaviour therapy last week on advice from my GP.  I popped in to talk about birth control and burst into tears about all the caring I’ve got going on.  GP was lovely.

I’m just about to have my first proper session and the therapist asked me to think setting a small number of tangible goals… I’ve just drafted a message to her and it has about 30 different commitments.  Not sure if this demonstrates that I’m very good at list making and goal setting; or if I have a total inability to focus.

Either way, in the spirit of accountability (and I know once you write things down you are much more likely to achieve them) here are my goals for the first quarter of 2017.

My work

Continue working on the contracts I have already lined up. 
Don’t go seeking any more work
Work as few hours as possible away from home until mum and dad are settled in the granny annex
nly attend work meetings and networking events if they are absolutely critical.

My husband
Make space for hubby and I time on our own at least once a week. This might be going for a coffee, watching some TV on our own or just having a chat.
Talk to him every day to ask him how he is feeling.
Try and keep my parents away from hub, especially until they have their own space (not quite sure how I am going to do this when I’m not home).
By the end of March I’d like to have helped hub work out what he wants to do outside of looking after the kids.  I’m not sure how to do this either. Welcome your thoughts.

My parents
I will use my online CBT to help me come up with some tactics to help me cope when my parents are upsetting me, or if they are upsetting my husband or my children. This will be tricky.
I’ll make sure my home time isn’t monopolised by my parents, but equally that they are getting the attention/support they need.  The move has been difficult for them too.  This will be tricky too!
By the end of March with my hub and my parents together we will come to a decision about whether the annex and all living together is working.

My friends
I will make time to see my friends once a fortnight at a time when it doesn’t impact on my family (so as far as possible not in the evening or weekends unless it is a whole family social occasion).
I will keep attending my bookclub and whatsapping my friend groups and talking with my sister and sister in law about how things are going.

My kids
I will not have my phone whilst I am with the kids and will ensure the little time I have with them is concentrated on what they want/need. Whether that is listening to music practice, watching TV, or playing cars. This will be one of my hardest objectives to hit. I am addicted to my phone.

Me time
  I will keep blogging and tweeting to make connections with other people in a similar situation and to let it all out.
I will be honest in my online CBT about how things are going.
I will run the half marathon on March 19 and stick to the 3 run a week plan I have in the diary.

My home
I will stop obsessing about getting an extension done. I won’t even get quotes.

I will get our finances back under control by having a better handle on what is going in and out.

I will let mum do whatever she wants in terms of constantly cleaning and reorganising everything, it doesn’t matter! (this will be tricky too).

Hospital on Christmas Eve

Here I am sat in the minors clinic at A&E 4 days after I was last here. Last time it was Christmas Eve and I was here with my dad for five hours. It could have been a scene from a dark comedy if it weren’t my real life.

We had just had lunch, hub had been on fairly good form despite all the stress of Christmas, my mother’s constant edicts and her unending cleaning. Mum had gone for her usual post-lunch nap and we were just settling in to watch a movie with the three kids when my dad came in groaning, clutching his leg, swearing and saying we had to take him to hospital because something had happened to his hip.

Dad’s mood and pain got progressively worse on the 15 minute journey to the hospital, he was F-ing and blinding all the way. A&E were amazing, I guess they’re used to aggressive and over emotional people. They moved dad to a quiet place which helped a bit. But after a couple of hours of waiting, even if I repeatedly said ‘Oh we’ve only been here 15 minutes’ he worked himself into a state of anger which culminated in him shouting at all the staff that they were a ‘bunch of c**ts’, banging things about, shouting and telling the young nurse taking his blood she had ‘tits like a bulldog’.

I know they’ve seen it all before but I could have died from embarrassment. On top of aggression directed toward strangers there was aggression directed to me too… ‘Who the f are you? Oh yes I’ve produced another nagging wife. I wish you were never born’. I’m usually ok coping with this, but I think the fact it was Christmas Eve and I could think of nowhere I wanted to be less than a&e with a grumpy old man made me less generous than usual. Not sure this is ever what children sign up for and it’s what makes dementia such a pig of a disease.

Meanwhile, hub was an absolute trooper. Despite being on the edge of another major depressive episode he held it together with three hyped kids who were desperate for me to get home to bake and wrap gifts.

After we were seen by a triage we were seen by a nurse and a doctor, blood tests, urine tests, physical tests, x rays, a saline drip and we were just waiting to see orthopedics and neurologist when dad made a miraculous recovery.

I popped to the loo and came back and dad wanted to know why we were in hospital. And if we could go home now. He knew we were in a hospital but couldn’t remember at all why we were there. By this point the doctors were ready to admit him for brain scans. Meanwhile dad had totally flipped from bitter and angry and was singing, hugging the nurse, (yes the same one who he said had tits like a bulldog), saying how wonderful everyone had been, telling me I was the best ever daughter. Did I mention dementia is a total bitch?

Eventually they sent us home with an appointment to come back today for a review.

So now comes the real dark comedic point in the story. Dad is laughing on good form the whole way home… I’m mildly fuming having lost my Christmas Eve. We got home, I opened the door, dad following behind me. He trips over the front step and falls down, flat on his back in the driveway, injuring the same hip which has just miraculously recovered!

So following more X-rays I’m now finishing this post whilst listening to dad cuss the MRI operator 🙈. Just how I wanted to spend the little time I have off over Christmas.

Sat on a train crying…

This week we got some incredibly positive news.  Despite all odds, and against all precedent in our local area, planning permission for a granny annex for my parents to live in was approved. It’s utterly brilliant as it will give my dad the space he needs (to swear and watch TV very loudly), and will give hub back control of his space and routines (which should help with his anxiety and depression).

So why am I sat on a train crying less than three days after this fantastic news?

I knew this would be the toughest time in our journey, but I guess I wasn’t really prepared for how tough it was going to be. I’ve said before in this blog that by nature I’m an optimistic, positive, people-person, and I if I am frank I am struggling with the sacrifices I need to make right now to make everything work. I feel like my positivity is about to break.

Yet when having laid out my stressors in the rest of this post I realise the personal sacrifices I am making are nothing… particularly when you compare them to the sacrifices my hub has made in agreeing to permanently house my parents even though he has a debilitating mental health condition and he’s never got on that well with them.

And that makes me mad at myself, and embarrassed about the fact I am acting like a petulant child… hence the tears on the train.

Being the positive, social, people-person that I am, I love Christmas. I love Christmas parties, socialising and inviting people over. I’ve not been able to do any of that this year. I’ve not gone to school occasions or met with friends. I’m not hosting a single festive gathering.  Two of the organisations I’m consulting for invited me to Christmas do’s but I had to rush home (after one drink at one, and before the other even started) to relieve hub from the smouldering anger which is my dad’s dementia and my mum helpfully telling him how to do homework with our kids or reflecting to him that he is very lazy and sits around all day doing nothing.

Our house isn’t a happy place at the moment.  My dad has been horrible to my two youngest kids, he’s taken over our only living space and he is constantly muttering under his breath, swearing and being mean.  I know dad has lost his ‘filter’, and that no normal person would act the way he is, but I guess I just wasn’t ready for the impact it is having on everyone, especially hub whilst I am out at work all day.

My rational self totally gets that missing out on fun is what I need to do this year to ensure we get through it. I know I am the only one that can disrupt the spiral of negativity; but that doesn’t stop my non-rational self still wanting to get out, and do more than just work and home. I think it is because I know I am a better carer; I’m more resilient and my mental health is stronger when I cut myself some slack, when I have a break, invest in my friendships and make time to have fun.

But what I need to remember, and indeed writing this post has helped me acknowledge, is that I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. A positive planning decision has been made, next Christmas will be better and once all seven people have some routine in their lives and some space (which will hopefully be in less than a month) I’ll be able to make that time for me.  

AFTERWORD: I got home after crying on the train, hub had cooked and despite him being the worst he’s ever been still he encouraged me to go out with some girlfriends for a Christmas drink which I did after I got the kids and my parents off to bed.  My friends were wonderful, loads of cuddles and offers of help (even though they don’t know about hub, they know how tough the caring for my parents has been) Feeling very loved by both my friends and family. Merry Christmas.

Sandwich Generation

Ok, so I know this is a blog about caring for and living with a partner with long term depression and anxiety… so just a warning, this post is only a little bit about that… and a lot about all the other caring I’ve got going on.

A few months ago, I heard a story on Radio 4 Women’s Hour (can’t find it now) about the ‘Sandwich generation’.  It wasn’t a term I’d heard before, but it was one that utterly resonated with me.  It refers to the generation of women (and some men) who are caring for their children at the same time as looking after elderly parents. And as I’m also supporting my husband I’m not sure what sort of carer that makes me… a triple deck sandwich?? I digress…

In many ways, I guess I’m not a typical sandwich generation carer.  Most of the cases on the radio were women who waited to have kids and then found themselves looking after young kids at the same time as their parents started to need care.  I didn’t wait. I had my first child aged 28 and the second at 29 (which by the standards at my kids’ school is pretty young- most mum’s are about ten years older than me!). I digress… again.

Anyway, fact remains that because my mum had me at the ripe old age of 43, she’s now clocking 80, and needs help. My dad has dementia and after prolonged discussions over the last year we decided that the best thing to do was to move them from rural Australia (where there was no family support) to the UK to live with us. I know, I hear you say – why on earth did that seem like a good idea given the of hub’s mental health to do this?  And that’s a question I am constantly asking myself.  It seemed like the only option.

They’ve been with us for a month and it’s been the toughest month of my life.

Hub has coped admirably and been a total star. But my mum doesn’t know about his depression or the debilitating nature of his anxiety so almost every evening I get ‘You work like a horse, you do everything. He is lazy he just sits around playing computer games all day’.  Meanwhile hub is on the brink, all his routines upset, his space invaded , all control lost. My dad’s dementia is a lot worse than mum was letting on and it is manifesting itself in my dad being pretty abusive, with my mum and youngest child bearing the brunt of his aggression.   Yes, my three year old now knows the F word.

I am trying to build a granny annex for my parents to live in, but struggling with a tick box approach to town planning. I’ve tried to point out to the council that if they grant the planning permission for the annex then I will be able to care for my parents and there won’t be a cost to the state, but I’m not sure whether they are buying my argument.  I’ll write in more detail about the need for local government and the NHS to take a holistic approach to enabling and supporting carers (but that feels like a whole different post).  

Then, on top of all of that, as sole breadwinner for the family, I left my secure and stable job just before my parents arrived to start a new business. And I did this at a time when we have zero savings and I’ll need to work hard to win every client. Why did I think that was a good idea again??

The fact remains that three generations of my family, as a result of choices largely made by me, are now in a major state of flux and it doesn’t feel like anyone is happy. 

We are squashed, everyone is on edge and no one has any routines.

The guilt I have is overwhelming, but I can’t turn back on any of it. I think though, that we are in the middle of the toughest bit.  This was always going to be hard. 

With the benefit of hindsight maybe I shouldn’t have done it all at the same time (starting a new business, migrating 80 year olds across the world, building an annex, supporting my hub and the usual stuff of looking after 3 kids with the millions of Christmas parties and other things you are supposed to remember at this time of year), but there isn’t much I can do now.  

Usually my posts feel more purposeful than this, with a clear point I am trying to make. This one doesn’t feel like that, but maybe that just reflects my state of mind and where I am at the moment.  I need to land all the balls that are in the air… or maybe just get into a rhythm where juggling them feels more comfortable.

Look on the bright side

I never realised there were no many weather-related sayings… ‘look on the bright side’, ‘every cloud has a silver lining’, ‘it doesn’t rain it pours’, ‘lightening doesn’t strike twice’.

As we head through what is going to be a lovely sunny week in London I’m reflecting on which of these old adages I’m going to take to heart.

It has been a tough week and it is only Wednesday morning.

I am pretty overwhelmed at the moment. Hub hasn’t been doing great over the last month (see my last post), I am leaving my steady job of 9 years in October to strike out on my own, my elderly parents (aged 76 and 80) are due to move in to permanently live with us in November, my mum had her visa appointment today to see if she can perm come and join us and I am in the middle of trying to self-build an annex so they have some private space of their own.  Add that to the usual pressures of kids off school in the summer holidays and money feeling tight and I suppose it isn’t entirely surprising that I am feeling overwhelmed.

Now another thing has happened.

I had ‘women’s surgery’ back in May. After three speedy natural deliveries and years of not investing enough in my pelvic floor I needed a bit of a repair job.  Yesterday (after much chasing) I got to see my surgeon who has confirmed that the operation didn’t go quite to plan and now I need corrective surgery.  He wanted to operate tomorrow.

So that’s the ‘it doesn’t rain it pours’ stuff.  Yes, I am feeling overwhelmed, but I suppose my natural tendency is to be practical and to try and work out how I am going to deal with it all. I think there are lots of ‘silver linings’ to what’s going on…

While my parents coming will be stressful in many regards, and my dad’s dementia is only going to get worse, I know that my mum will be massively helpful (she’s a very sprightly 80) and having a hug from your mum is something that can’t be replaced by anything else. So hugs on tap have got to be a good thing, right?

I’ve got a pre-fab building arriving in a couple weeks for the bottom of the garden and I’ve done absolutely nothing to sort out getting plumbers, carpenters, water installed… but you know what I have til November. It will get done.

Leaving work is scary and while I have lots of people saying they’d love me to do bits of work for them I haven’t got anything concrete lined up yet.  But let me get real, who hires someone in August to do work in Oct/November?  On the bright side, I am going to be home to settle my parents in, and home more generally for the kids and hub. And over the last year my confidence in my ability to support my family has massively increased.  I know this is the right thing to do.

Now to the surgery, well of course I’d rather I didn’t have to have it.  But once it is done everything should be fine.  And I spoke to the surgeon and explained that I really needed a break to do some fun things with my family over the rest of the holidays, not lie in bed and shout at them for hugging and jumping on me.  He’s agreed to postpone til first week of September when all three of them will be in school and nursery. And on the bright side, the operation will be happening whilst I am still employed so income will still be coming in. Just think if I had to wait til October or November when my parents are arriving and I’ll be self employed.

And hub, well I could think about how difficult it all is and how worried I am, (and indeed re-reading my post from last week that’s kind of where I was). But today I am feeling better and more optimistic.  It’s our 15th wedding anniversary tomorrow (Yay, go us!), and my sister-in-law who is here from overseas for the summer is looking after the kids so we can have a night away (thank you Groupon for mega cheap nights away).  I look at my friends and colleagues and realise we are lucky.

Our relationship is strong. We love each other and 19 years together isn’t something to be sniffed at.  Hub is also doing much better than last week.  Almost at the time of my last posting he started back a very low dosage of Sertraline every other day, and even over a week he seems less on edge.  I know this is probably placebo effect more than anything else as it’s unlikely to have worked that quickly, but as I’ve said before when things seem to be going better I’ll just take it, not question it. We will need to watch it though, because neither of us want him to go back to being an SSRI robot.

Or equally (and more likely) he’s doing better because a long awaited computer game has come out No Man’s Sky.  I think my next post is going to be about how my attitude to gaming has changed and the positive impact I think gaming can have on depression and anxiety. (I’ll be honest (because if I can’t be honest in an anonymous blog where can I be??), it does still get me cross the amount of hours he puts into gaming, but I do see the benefits now in a way that I really didn’t before).

So on balance, yes things are overwhelming, but I need to remind myself to look for the silver lining.