Friday, January 30, 2009

The play, the play...and children.

Hello all,

Well can I just say how excited I am about the play starting in 6 days time? Yikes! Last night we had the first rehearsal in the West side centre.....ooh I was nervous. I only forgot one part of my lines, but the thought of forgetting any of it in front of a paying audience makes me quail with fright!

Lots of people I know are coming to see it, and that's exciting too!

On another note, I have been looking at some of our home movies of Alex when he was really little. I wish I could say that I look at them and they bring back good memories. The sad fact is that I hear his crying and it doesn't make me feel anxious....but it makes me remember being terribly anxious and afraid. It makes me sad for me, and sad for Richard and Alex, because I really wanted to be a good wife and mother, fulfilled and happy, but I fell into an enormous pit of depression and stopped living.....I only existed. And what a fraught and tortured existence it was. I know that it's unhealthy to look back and think "if only"...but I do wish that I had more positive memories of that first year. I look back and see the pain in my eyes, I see the worry in Richard's eyes. I see that Alex is a beautiful baby, and that I wanted to be the best mum I could be, but that it was so hard and that I lost myself. I don't ever want to feel like that again. EVER!

And it's not just for me.....the strain and the pain that the lost months of my life put on those around me sometimes makes me want to sit down and weep. I was suicidal for so long, the only thing stopping me from doing anything about it was the thought of my family and my son and what a terrible thing it would be for them to deal with. I had nothing for me. I had ceased to be me. All that existed was pain and desolation and fear. The absence of hope, the absence of light, nothing to hope for, nothing to live for.

Now that I've been back to "me" ....probably since September/October last year.....I had entertained the thought of having another child. Richard and I both wanted more than one when we first discussed it, and so many lovely, thoughtful people have told me "an only child is a lonely child!" (sarcasm alert).....I want Alex to have a sibling......I like the idea of another child.....but I think that the reality of going through what I went through before is just too much for me.

My psych is optimistic. I have BPD, which is why my post natal depression was so horrific...and BPD is one of those rare, cureable mental illnesses. He says not to discount the idea of having another child, properly handled. But I just don't know if I can take that leap of faith. Having a child is not like starting a job, picking a colour for your is not reversible....and as a mother, you are pivotal to that child's life. I have never known anything like it in my life. It is a force that is primal, scares me to death. I don't know that I have another recovery in me. People say....."you'll know the warning signs, you'll have strategies in place, people will help out"......and I think, it's all very well knowing the warning signs and getting people to help...but somewhere in the first months of Alex's life, my Post Natal Depression took on a life of its own and nothing anybody did helped fix anything. I descended into hell and I didn't come out for about 2 years. I don't know that I can take the risk of going back there. Even knowing that it would end wouldn't make the utter hellishness of it any easier. It's not just being tired, it's not just being sad. It's having all the life sucked out of you. It's having no joy, nothing to look forward to, no peace, no rest. Insomnia, anxiety, fear, obsession, insanity, suicidal thoughts. No concentration span, never being able to sit and relax, being a prisoner in your own head. Longing to escape but not being able to justify ending it all. Trying to, and failing. Hating yourself, hating God, hating happy people. Feeling sick when you see a pregnant woman. Wanting people you love to forget you ever existed so you can stop existing. How can I ever risk going back there? I don't think I have enough faith to do it.

Maybe things will change....but I really don't think so. I have come so far that I am now hopeful about life and my future, but not far enough to forget what feeling like I had no life and no future felt like. I think I still grieve the losses of that time. Poor, poor Richard, my poor mother and father......the people I loved hurt as much as I did because I was so lost. I love Alex more and more each day, but I have a defensiveness over my parenting that stems back to that time. I'm afraid that my illness will have somehow damaged him. I'm sure my guilt will subside as I work through my "stuff" and become stronger and more confident in my parenting. This is happening every day. I can now spend a whole day at home with Alex without freaking out or counting the hours til Richard comes home....unheard of in those early months!

Who knows what the future holds? I guess it's in the hands of God. All I can do is take it one day at a time. (There's a good bumper sticker about that. "I try to take each day at a time, but lately, several days have attacked me at once"!)

Thanks for listening, whoever you are! Deb xo

Friday, January 16, 2009

Blah blah blah blah!

Here's a cute pic of our family from Christmas to start things off in a good way!
It's Friday morning and I want to do something....but am feeling very lazy! I want to go for a walk with Alex, want to catch up with friends, need to do grocery shopping....but gosh darn I'm feeling lazy! Yesterday we stayed home all day and I watched some Sex and the City episodes. Alex likes them because there is a baby in it at the moment, little Brady. Alex is so adorable but so naughty at times. He is just loving kicking me at the moment and I am not putting up with him. He has had a few smacks on the bot.

I half feel like loading up the car and coming over to Finley.....but I can't get in touch with mum and dad so I'm not sure if they're there or not. I really need to get back in a routine but am a bit blah....My gym membership ran out yesterday and I should rejoin somewhere, but I don't know where.....Maybe I'll just get a 10 visit pass and see how I go. I haven't been eating the best lately but have decided to give myself a break and just try to develop better eating habits. I think I have lost a little bit of weight but can't be sure. I am drinking Coke Zero and soon I'm going to be fully caffinated and ready to roooooooooollllllllllll!

Hope everyone has a fantabulous day.....I am off to get my butt into gear!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What happened next.

Grandma passed away on Monday 5th January, and a whole lot of stuff has happened since then. My week last week was as follows:

Monday: Drive to Finley to meet with Mum, Jen, Ang and Funeral Director. Go through photos and decide what things we wanted for her to my fam and lovely Richard arrived around 2 to look after Alex so I could talk to everyone. I stayed behind for a little bit when Richard left and Dad gave me a massive hug, and said "I was afraid you had gone, I really wanted to see you". It made me cry. I love my dad....he is so sad.

Tuesday: I woke up with a start at 5am and went for a walk. I was so sad and kept crying when I thought about Grandma, all the fun times we'd had together and all the things that she'd seen me through. Alex was in daycare so I decided that I would let myself wallow in sadness for a coupla days. I went and hired series 4 of Sex and the City from Video Ezy and spent a lazy afternoon watching Carrie & Co and trying not to eat junk(see below).

Wednesday: I went and did a workout with Laura, a personal trainer who I have booked 3 sessions with to try and help me get the most out of my workouts. She put me through my paces and it was good, got the endorphins out and I was energised to try and get through this week without pigging out too much. Met the lovey Ross and Judy (and Jono) Taylor for lunch. I just love this couple, they are so real and never fake it, they talk about life and their opinions and I love it! Angela popped down to get the shed keys that Richard had accidentally taken with him and we had a frozen yoghurt together and shopped for the funeral.

Thursday: I decided I would go to Finley to be around the fam, but couldnt' quite get it together to leave the house. My gorgeous friend Marianne dropped by with all sorts of lovely treats for lunch and smiles to cheer me up. She is a star. We have been going for walks together and become each other's cheerleaders. Everyone needs a friendship like that. I was planning on going and visiting mum and dad but Alex had a long nap and I fell asleep....woke up when Richard came home at 5.30pm. Decided not to go to Finley and stayed up til 1.30am watching SATC. Fabulous stuff.

Friday: I rang mum and decided I would try to come to Finley that morning. Again, I couldn't seem to get it together to leave the house. I got a bag packed, had a conversation with Richard about how it wasn't that sensible to go to Finley for the day on Friday if we were spending the weekend there. Said that I wanted to anyway. Stuffed around at home. Felt tired and gross. Decided to make Alex have a sleep and try to rest. Surfed the net and looked at Facebook way too much. Felt sad. Reread the poem Jen wrote. Cried. Had pizza (thin crust) and Salad for dinner. Even little changes count! Packed Alex and my bags and left room in my bag for Richard's stuff. Checked the bags to make sure I wasn't missing anything.

Saturday: Woke up earlyish (7) for the trip to Finley. Arrived at mum and dad's house to greet rellies. Cried a little. Went to Grandma's funeral and read poem...thought I wouldn't be able to continue but kept on going. Morning tea in church hall, chatted to people but mainly just felt like being by myself, or with my close family, eating lollies and reading trashy magazines. Didn't eat any lollies. Went to Tocumwal Pavillion Bakery for after funeral lunch. Came back to mum and dad's and tried to make Alex have a sleep. He wouldn't. About 4 Richard took Alex over to his sister Catherine's place so she could look after him while we had a "farewell Grandma" dinner at the Chinese restaurant. Sooooo busy and full of people. I had that unreal feeling that life was going on and I didn't really want it to..... Wondered what Grandma would think of her day. Picked up Alex and went out to the Hay farm. Slept horribly (I always do when I'm stressed or anxious).

Sunday: Had breakfast with Glad, went back into town. We were all going to go to church but I couldnt' face people. Just wanted to be alone. Richard took Alex to church and rest of family went to Rutherglen to have a parker's pie. I wanted to go but couldn't get back to Shepparton in time..........felt trapped and helpless but tired and quiet at the same time. Pottered around mum and dad's house and watched more SATC on their Austar. I love that show for trauma counselling. Gives one a sense of perspective. Drove back to Shep with Richard and Alex. Dragged my sorry arse to rehearsals with dead, red eyes. Got through rehearsals and came home, slept soundly for the first time since Grandma has died.

Yesterday was mostly good, I decided that I would rejoin the world, cause it's only doing me damage not being in it! I was still a bit teary......when Saeeda, our family day-carer's elderly Pakistani mother in law said "what is wrong with alex? he always have scab on face, mummy not look after him!!" and laughed, I burst into tears. He has had a few bumps lately and on Saturday night got covered in mosquito bites, some of which he scratched. I already felt like a neglectful, lazy mother. Saeeda apologised for her and said "She is old, she doesn't understand what she is saying". The MIL then apologised too. I felt horribly embarassed. Went home to a swim and my lovely hubby. Facebooked til the early hours, finding some old friends.

Still feel a little down but I know I'm going to make it. I have a bag full of some of Grandma's clothes and scarves and I keep going and smelling them because they smell of her. I miss her.

Here is the poem that we read at her funeral:

Grandma means gardens
Roses and geraniums
Fairy banquets at the bottom of the garden
The gentle curve of a red painted path

Grandma means a myriad of little purses
Necklaces and such
Three variations on a theme
For three little girls

Grandma means creaking floorboards
Frosted glass doors
Big furry chairs
And a silver Christmas tree

Grandma means books!
Too many to read
But not for Grandma
The endless pursuit of an unread book

Grandma means conversation
Tuesday phone calls
Shared troubles, comfort
Given nightly in prayer


Grandma means hedgehog slice
Warm pasties with tomato sauce
And gooseberry jam bubbling in a pot
Warm kitchen aromas

Grandma means walks
Down a cobbled street
To Dalkieth shops
And Marzipan mice

Grandma means roast dinners
Home-made potato salad
Ice cream cake with pale pink roses
A line to be cleared

Grandma means dancing
with her walking cane
In a room with many ornaments
Amidst laughter-filled protestations

Grandma means baby soft hands
With a feather-like touch
Crocheting rose filled rugs
Flowery cards with spidery writing

Grandma means Gate Gamma
As our wriggly children are balanced
On her legs
For hugs and photos

Grandma means early morning stories
Tucked into bed, four across
With a pale green quilted spread
To keep us warm

Grandma means watching cricket
On a big old television
A cool respite
From hot summer days

Grandma means holidays in Perth
Piled on mattresses all in the one room
Special treats, cream on toast
Stacks of funnies to share

Grandma means box of treasures
Bruising the walls in MahJong
Visits to various libraries
Kirribilli cappuccinos

Grandma means travel tales
Exploring the world
With her loved ones
Enjoying postcards, photos and gifts from afar

Grandma means
So many things
But most of all

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Goodbye, Grandma

Hi everyone,

Well, on New Year's eve morning, my Grandma (Hazel Maud Cook) had a stroke. She'd been going downhill since October, when she had a fall in her retirement hostel. She was 93 and had lived a long life, and was really ready to go a year or two ago.
Grandma was my dad's mother and had a very wry sense of humour. She was very regal and dignified, and old age seemed to be packed full of indignities. It has really taught me a lesson about how society values it's aged population. These people have been through all that we have, but because they are frail and slowing down, we sometimes think that they're irrelevant. Nothing could be further from the truth.
After my Grandpa, Ken Cook, died from complications to Alzheimers in 1998, I decided that I would ring Grandma once a week to check in on her and inform her of my exciting single life. I became her Tuesday girl, and we scheduled our week around our calls.....only ever missing one or two Tuesdays because there was an event on at the retirement village. As she was living in Perth, I could call her later and she'd still be up. I gave her the edited highlights of my somewhat chaotic life, and loved her take on my life and the sense of perspective that talking to her gave me.
I am full of admiration for her. She grew up in the era where, once you got married, running the home was one of the only occupations available to you. Grandpa worked at the Bank of Wales (now Westpac) and looked after all the finances. When he fell ill with Alzheimers, she had to take over the running of the household, the finances, bills etc. It was a daunting task to take on in her early seventies, when she'd always relied on Grandpa. I am sure she had many lonely nights and days, a lot of fears and troubles, but I didn't ever see her as a victim. She was a strong woman who had strong opinions and who wasn't afraid to call a spade a spade. I loved that about her. When I told her about a man I was dating, who had a bald head, she was supportive....but when the relationship fizzled out, she said "Poor old xxxx, with his bald head. He wouldn't have looked any good in the family photos". hehe.
She hadn't had an easy road, she had an older brother called Frank Alexander (we did name Alex in part after him), who went off to the second world war and was killed. Her parents died and she had to deal with Grandpa's long, long illness. She was faithful, visiting him every day and telling him stories of their past. She always read him the 23rd psalm...the lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. She tried to find the humour in the situation and was always encouraging me to follow my dreams. She prayed every night for me to find a nice man who would look after me....I'm so glad those prayers were answered and she got to see me happy with Richard.
When I was very unwell with Post Natal Depression, in 2006 and 2007, she was a comforter and supporter. She would say to me "Deborah, darling, nothing lasts forever - good, bad or indifferent". How right she was.
I went over to Finley yesterday to sort out things for the funeral with mum and my sisters Jen and Angela. Jen had written a beautiful, touching poem for grandma and we've changed some of the stanzas to incorporate memories from Angela and I, and we're going to read it at her funeral on Saturday. I won't post the poem on here yet, but will post some of my memories.
The last time I saw Grandma before her stroke, Jen and Angela and I had just had morning tea together without the kids...we'd managed to foist them off onto our husbands...and we were chattering away like schoolgirls. Grandma sat back in her chair and smiled, her eyes following our silly exchanges like a tennis spectator. She wore an amused smile that told of extreme fondness for us all and happiness that she was with us.
The last time I saw Grandma alive, was a couple of hours after she'd had her stroke. One side of her body was paralysed but her eyes were still very much alive and alert. She was still there until the very end. I stroked her soft cheek and held her age-worn hand and told her how special she was to me, and how much I loved her. She tried to smile and mouthed "I love you" to me. I said to her "you have given us a legacy, Grandma...we all love books and that's because of you". I had a wonderful relationship with her and shared many special moments with her, but I still wish I could go back and have one more conversation with her. I know, that in months to come, I will think "I must tell Grandma that", and be sad that I can't. She made an adventure out of life, never complained about her lot, and inspired me to be well. She will live on in my heart and I will always miss her.
Goodbye, Grandma.
My memories of Grandma - an email to Jen, Angela and Mum & Dad:
The red driveway to Circie Circle....your beautiful roses and geraniums lovingly cared for. The park near your house, where we spent many happy hours during our school holidays. The walk to Dalkieth shops, you with your bag on wheels, taking us for a walk and a little treat. Reading with you in bed in the morning, practically pushing gramps out with 3 squirming youngsters all trying to get close to Grandma.
Your treasure box and how you always called me "treasure" . Hearing you tell the story about the time that I was afraid you were going to put me in your treasures box. The kettle is a -lowing.
The frosted glass doors closed and the airconditioner on, the cricket playing and another adventure filled school holiday
The spacious backyard with the red steps, the beautiful trees and flowers and plants, leaving presents out for the fairies that lived in the bottom of your garden.
Your sense of humour, the way you could find the fun in a situation. You listened so earnestly to us telling you our hopes and dreams and hurts. You made us feel like we were special. Your chicken liver pate and creamy potato salad. Your special pasties. Coming to stay in your unit and going for walks to the library. Losing myself in a book in your loungeroom. Telling you that any leftovers were a "line to be cleared". Making the trek across the village to the salt water pool. Counting every blessing and naming you as one of those.
Swimming in our above ground pool in Wamboin, with you watching us to make sure that nothing went wrong. Hurrah for Hazel.
Knowing that if everything went wrong, you were still in our corner. Playing long games of MahJong and you breaking up the inevitable fights between sisters!
Coming to stay and you had saved us all the kids pages from the West Australian
Being your Tuesday girl... sharing the edited ups and downs of the single life with you every Tuesday and loving the sense of perspective you gave my crazy life. Knowing that no matter how bad things were, that you would always have a positive thing to say..."nothing lasts forever, good, bad or indifferent"...and if a social function went wrong, well, it "was an outing". Your joy at my marriage to Richard. Telling me that you'd prayed for me every night to find a wonderful man who would take care of me. So many lovely cards and cheques, sent in your flowery writing. Little trinkets, jewellery and bits and pieces....little pieces of your life that you shared with us. Thoughtful cards and postcards. Your fighting spirit when you moved to Sydney....keeping your mind busy with a good book and a quiz. Doing exercise and one-upmanshiping the other ladies with your 10 great grandchildren.
Your important friendship and tales from the days when Dad and David were little. Never judging me and always telling me how you felt. If I'd had a fight with Richard, telling me "there were times when I could have cheerfully pushed Ken in front of a bus". Your support and love when I suffered from Post Natal Depression. Not letting me out of your prayers for a moment....always being in my cheer squad.
That you have seen me recover and be well and happy is one of the joys in my life. Pan Pero. The Pirate's whistle.
Gran....Grandma. Regal and dignified.....a woman who lived a lot of life. A wise, generous soul....a woman who I will miss and always be glad I have known. A woman I could spend hours talking to about life, love and the universe. Someone who was there for me when the chips were down and someone who I love with all my heart. I can't wait to see you in heaven one day. I am so glad you got to meet my son. I miss you already.