Blog Posts, Menopausal Mutterings

The end of the end and the beginning of a new beginning

Photo by Tomas Williams on

At the end of last month, after a long illness, my mother transitioned into her new life, leaving my Dad, my sister and me to find a new way forward. Like many people experiencing grief, I wonder if I’m doing it right. Is there something wrong with me? Did I not love my mother as much as my sister and father?

Why the odd questions? I’ll tell you. After her passing in the hospital, we completed the necessary paperwork and went to our separate homes. In my case, I went back to my hotel room. Due to COVID restrictions I am not allowed to visit with my family unless we meet in a public place. Anyhoo – Dad told me he’d gone to the bottom of their garden and had a good cry. My sister had done something similar at her house. Me? I couldn’t do it in a faceless hotel room. I knew I needed to keep myself together for the journey back to England the following day. It just didn’t seem like the right time or place to me. Maybe once I got home again…

Photo by Felipe Cespedes on

And then again, maybe not. The last time I sobbed my heart out was after I dropped Cost Center 1 at University. I sat in her childhood bedroom and had a good old cry, the kind you do when you were little and fell over, hurting your knees. I felt better after that cry. I’d like to feel something like that now but so far nothing doing. I think the best description I have is I’m on autopilot. Her funeral was last Thursday. I motored through choosing flowers, coffin, writing obituaries, writing and practicing Mum’s Eulogy, delivering it on the day, talking at social distance to all who attended to pay respects. An endless list of things that needed my attention and focus.

Now that I’m back home in England, there is nothing left to organise or stay in ‘professional mode’ for. I’m numb and empty. I can’t sleep. In fact I looked back through my journal and found that sleep has eluded me for almost a third of a year. Sleep may have been MIA, but anxiety sure as heck hasn’t. I guess I’m so used to being on red alert for every text message, every email, every land-line call, every family conference call that I’ve forgotten how to switch it back to ‘normal’.

With nothing to focus on per se, my anxious attention zeroed in on my own body. The ‘What If’ gremlin has taken up roost on my shoulder. It watches everything my stressed out body does and asks – 

The What If gremlin!

‘What if that’s a sign of some deadly illness?‘

What if you go the same way as your mother?’ 

Look how healthy she was all her life and then POW! A year and a half later she’s gone!’

‘What if…’

‘What if…’

‘What if…’’

Argh! Shut up already!’

I phoned my family doctor and explained all of this. I half expected to be asked to call in for a checkup, but no. He kindly explained what happens when a person’s physical and mental health when they’ve experienced relentless stress, severe and prolonged sleep disturbance  and bereavement. It’s a recipe for burn-out. He’s prescribed me some short-acting sleeping tablets (with very strict instructions), clean eating, no alcohol (bugger – there goes my Friday gin and tonic), meditation and plenty of fresh air. So here I am, writing this sad old post, grounded and trying to put myself back together again.

I know the pain of loss will diminish over time. The rawness, emptiness, floods of tears following a happy memory shared will resolve in their own good time.

Meanwhile, I’d like to thank each of my core followers for your kind words and virtual hugs. Just to know you took the time to send me little replies helped me, and continue to help me today and tomorrow. I’m looking forward to a time when I’m back to my usual chipper self.

Bless you all.

Cath xx

Blog Posts, Menopausal Mutterings

Keeping calm when all around is anything but…

Photo by Sayantan Kundu on

I know many of us are experiencing some wild physical and mental symptoms, maybe for the first time ever. What on God’s green earth is going on? In a nutshell your higher brain that does all the higher function stuff (amongst other things) has been hijacked by your primitive system, the flight and fright response. As it no longer has to deal with sabre toothed tigers it is now busy interpreting this COVID0-19 pandemic as a modern-day tiger. Given that we can’t see the threat (well not without an electron microscope) to make up our minds whether we can go ten rounds with it and win (or not), we are left with the flight response. Every fibre of our being is telling us to run for the hills… but wait… we’re in lockdown. We have to stay put.

Our poor minds and bodies are in a right old state inside. How does this manifest itself? Mentally this can show itself as stress, anxiety, inability to concentrate, overwhelm, sudden tears, anger and so on. Meanwhile, the large dose of adrenalin and cortisol rampaging round our bodies can create stomach upsets, headaches, insomnia to name but a few.

That should scare even the most chilled out of people. Even reading this might provoke a TIGER ATTACK response. But what can we do to calm things a smidge?

Photo by fotografierende on

Put the kettle on and make a nice cuppa. Here in the UK everything is fixed with a good cup of tea. I prefer to add cake just to make sure I’ve covered the bases.

While the kettle is boiling and the tea is coming to its senses, you can have a wee look at my list of calming strategies to help dial down the tiger attack response.

  1. Breathe. Slow it down…. Breathe in slowly through the nose but breathe out through the mouth even slower. If you know any yoga breathing exercises now is the time to dust them off and get practicing. If not, there are plenty of examples of calming breathing techniques on Youtube.
  2. Phone a friend. They are probably feeling the same and wondering if they too are losing their marbles. It helps to know others are feeling the same.
  3. Have a good old belly laugh at something. Find some silly memes, gifs, photos, animal videos that make you laugh out loud.
  4. Keep your hands busy… draw (even if you’re no Rembrandt), knit, sew, grab some coloured pencils and grab that colouring book. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, get out there and give it a good tidy-up. Be inventive but be busy.
  5. Stay away from social media and limit your access to the news. Twice a day to catch the headlines is more than enough.
  6. Be kind to yourself. Watch comforting movies, read a favourite book, listen to your favourite playlists.

And there you have it. Enjoy your tea and eat the cake, just not too much of it.

Stay home, stay safe and stay health my lovely readers.