This week has been Mental Health week in the UK and today (Friday), I woke up and decided I wanted to share something that I haven’t shared before. It is very personal and some people would say I share too much but if it helps just one other person, then I don’t actually give a …. what anyone else says.
You may or may not know that I got sick just under 2 years ago (‘OH NOT AGAIN ELAINE, yes but this is different so PLEASE STAY with me).
I won’t bore you with all the details but basically, I had had pneumonia for over 6 months that I didn’t know about and although I didn’t feel like the normal me and was constantly coughing, I kept putting off really looking into it.
We moved house, we moved country, we drove up and down the UK, I kept going because ‘THAT’S WHAT YOU DO’, isn’t it (that’s not actually a question or actually true). When people asked if I was ok, I said ‘absolutely, yep I’m fine’, ‘yep I’m fine’, ‘yep, I’m fine’, ‘I’m going to deal with it soon’, ‘I’m going to make a doc appointment, tomorrow, next week, next month…’.
By the time I did (it was booked for the Monday), it was too late. On the Friday before, my lovely brother in law was cutting down a tree in our garden and shredding it. My lungs gave up. Turns out only one of them had been working for over 6 months and flooding the other one with spores from the tree caused the other one to say, ‘I don’t think so’.
What happened next was blue light to Poole Hospital, me passing out I think, being put in an induced coma for 9 days, 2 different dormant infections coming alive just to add to the ICU ‘s workload plus the other stuff, massive worry for the whole family and my friends, daily visits from hubby & his brother supporting him, my amazing sister in law (using her Reiki magic), friends and family that travelled from some pretty far places to visit me, send me healing thoughts and tell me to ‘wake up’ and a bugger load of other stuff – while I was ‘sleeping’.
It took a serious amount of months to recover as I lost 7kg of muscle mass in those 9 days, couldn’t walk properly, couldn’t hold a cuppa, had to get daughter to wash my hair, hubby to lift me out of the bath (poor sod), the boy to do some cooking, and had to have physio for a few months after. I was on loads of meds until my body started to reject them so insomnia, shaking, constant nausea ensued and the doc said I could finally come off them. So so much care and attention required from those around me and those again who travelled to visit and look after me etc etc
What I’ve never really talked about was how I FELT MENTALLY. I know I was pumped full of life saving drugs which I will forever be thankful for, but I was having hallucinations, I felt depressed , I was rude to those amazing amazing nursing staff, as life just felt shit. I couldn’t understand ‘HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED TO ME, I’M A WOMAN, I’M A MOTHER, I’M INVINCIBLE!’ so I must be now broken, ‘what’s the point!’
When the lovely physio came in 2 days after they woke me up and said ‘right, lets get you moving. Lift your arm for me’. I felt I couldn’t and basically told her to f off (a few times). So not cool! I was miserable, I was wallowing, I didn’t understand any of it and I couldn’t be bothered to, again, what was the point. I sat and looked at that hospital wall for another 6 days.
It was only when a gorgeous Scottish nurse came in to wash my hair (I told her not to bother, what was the point, thankfully there was no mirror, that would have sent me over the edge) and she brought me a radio which she switched to Heart and songs started to come on that I knew, did I think there WAS A POINT to trying. Songs came on that I had taught exercise classes to for 16 years, that made me feel happy, that actually inspired me to stop being a miserable cow. I was desperate to get home but was told that unless I got up and walked with a granny walker, to the commode (ugh) 4 steps away on my own, then I wasn’t going anywhere. It took everything I had MENTALLY to do that.
My body was so weak and those 4 steps were like 4 marathons, but I finally understood it was going to have to be my MENTAL STRENGTH that got me to that lovely wheelchair loo. I can honestly say that I have never ever had to talk myself round to doing something as much as I did at that point. We take our brains for granted until they work against us, they don’t want our lives to be hard so they try and always get us to take the easy route – don’t walk! It’s hard, it’s bloody hard and you can feel completely alone, no matter how many loving people are around you.
The feelings continued when I did get home and they continued for months. I was losing my temper, I was pissed off way more than normal, I was constantly trying to ‘pull myself together’ for about 5 minutes then giving up, I lay on the couch and felt sorry myself and watched 4 series back to back of ‘The Good Witch’ on Hallmark tv.
I tried to hide it from everyone because, ‘wow wasn’t I so lucky to be alive, what on earth did I have to be miserable about’. But I was. I didn’t feel like me, ‘chatty, friendly, happy’ me. It breaks my heart even now (I’m kind of having a wee bubble on the train right now) but at one point in the next few months, my gorgeous, kind, caring, daughter said to me “I WANT MY OLD MUM BACK, I DON’T LIKE THIS ONE, WHY ARE YOU SO HORRID”.
I was in hospital at the end of July, in the November I eventually went to a support group!
I’m good now but I still remember VERY CLEARLY how everything felt at that time and how I still tried to deal with it on my own, how alone I felt (because I made it that way), how horrible I was to so many people around me, how pissed off I felt at not being ME and the normal SUPER WOMAN me. None of us are but we are bloody fantastic.
So, if you’ve managed to wade through the above and are still with me now, I applaud you and say THANK YOU. If you feel ‘not you’ or ‘a bit down’, upset, pissed off, etc etc etc, talk to someone, do something about it. IT WILL GET BETTER but I’m afraid YOU need to make the move, YOU need to tell that amazing brain inside YOUR head that it CAN feel better. YOU CAN FEEL GOOD & YOU WILL. If you think anyone around may be struggling or finding things tricky, DON’T just stand back because you don’t want to upset them. Let them know you’re there, let them know you can help them even if it’s going for a walk or a cuppa. Let them tell you to piss off, or mind your own business, they may not be able to come to you right now, but they’ll know you are there and can come to you when they’re ready.
Have an amazing weekend and as they used to say when we were kids and were being taught how to cross the road
STOP, LOOK & LISTEN!