Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Five Good Things

A few years back, I had what, in retrospect, I think was a mini-breakdown.

I'd had the sixth miscarriage in September, discovered a lump on my ankle in October that turned out to be a tumour (thankfully benign), started to have some serious stomach issues in January, my dad was diagnosed with high grade Non-Hodg.kins Lym.pho.ma very suddenly in March and a week later I started being investigated for possible bowel cancer. Between all that and a rather unfortunate series of miscommunications with and within the medics involved in my case, I became extremely worried and it turned into full-blown anxiety/depression.

All I wanted to do was sleep but as soon as I woke in the morning, the anxiety kicked in and I just couldn't. Nor could I drag myself out of the bed. I know now that activity is the key to busting anxiety. Basically, your body is in "flight or fight" and pumping adrenalin and the worst thing you can do is remain still. My dad - who was going through chemo and was 71 years old so, really, I should have been looking after him - would take me for walks with the dog in the afternoon and by the evening I would feel quite human but by the following morning, I was a gibbering wreck again.

My GP recommended Cogn.itive Beh.avio.ural The.ra.py so I gave it a go. It wasn't my thing - as I said to the therapist, if I had a irrational fear of lampposts, this might be the very way to kick it but, when you're being checked out for cancer, fear of cancer is actually pretty rational. Plus, he was a bit patronising. He assumed that my fear was of death and pointed out that we all have to die (Really? No way?!). I said that I wasn't afraid of death at all - I assumed that there would either be something better afterwards or nothing at all - I was afraid of the pain and suffering that precedes death. Again, not irrational, to my mind. So we parted company.

The one thing that I liked about CBT and that really did help was the practice of finding 5 good things about your day. When I was feeling really down and negative, it took some serious effort to find 5 good things and they were usually pretty small, like watching a TV show I liked. But it made me see that there were good things in my life. As time went by, every day one of the things on my list would be my walks with dad. Not knowing how his treatment was going to turn out, I began to treasure that time - they fixed him, thanks be, and I still treasure that time and any time we have together now.

Recently, things have been tough - not tough like they were back then, but not great. My husband's job is at risk, my own job has been very stressful, my wee boy has been poorly a lot, my sister and her family and my much-loved sister-in-law and her family have both announced that they are leaving the country, probably permanently, taking the nearest thing that my wee one will probably ever have to siblings with them, an old (but too young) friend died of cancer at New Year and another (even older but still too young) friend has just started chemo. My husband has been very low about it all as well and we're not doing a great job of cheering each other up. I also have po.st-na.tal an.xiety/depr.ession (or more likely, my tendencies in that direction have been tipped by tiredness, stress and hormones).

Following all the recent upheaval over PAIL etc, I am going to be totally honest - being a parent is wonderful in many ways and I am very lucky to have my son but it does not fix everything else in life and it's a bloody hard job which brings with it a whole new set of problems. Intellectually, I knew this before I had my son but the combined desire and inability to become a parent can make the negatives of parenting seem trivial. Admitting that it's not all joy and happiness can seem like a betrayal of those still in the trenches or like ingratitude for the amazing gift we've been given. Equally, I'm feeling like I need a reminder that there were times that I would have given anything to be where I am now and that life is basically good. I told my husband about the 5 good things exercise and recommended it to him, then thought I should take my own advice.

So, I'm going to use my blog to list 5 good things from the day - though it almost certainly won't be every day but just as often as I can as I don't want to turn it into another stress-inducing thing.

Today's 5 good things:
1. Lots of cuddles from my poorly wee boy.
2. Mum brought up casserole and apple crumble so we don't need to cook tonight.
3. I found out about the details of a local Donor Conception Network meeting happening this weekend.
4. An email from my best friend.
5. "Al.cat.raz" starts on UK TV tonight!

I'm thinking that the DCNetwork meeting might bring up some blog-worthy stuff . . .

My "always" good things.

1 comment:

Journey Girl said...

You've got a lot on your plate and I totally understand that finally being a parent doesn't take away all the other things that are tough in our lives. I hope your little man feels better soon. Great idea about the 5 things, I'm going to start doing that too. I was talking to my naturopath yesterday and I was telling her how JBB gets up at 5am every day no matter what we do (as an aside, I am totally dreading when daylight savings finishes, 4am, gaaaaahhh!). She said to me 'and you want another one?' and then I told her how I had a migraine the day before and JBB came over to lie down with me and kissed my head to make it better. This is a great post, thank you.