10 Years Ago: In Search of Meaning and Space to be Kind. For All Who Care.

I’ve been attempting to inspire some change in my current state, my depression is persistent and cumbersome and has made it’s way into my physical being. I feel heavy, tired and full of aches and tenderness. I’m bored with it and bored with myself for feeling this way.

I have moments of relief when able to be present and untroubled but the temporary state fades abruptly and I find myself getting frustrated at trying to induce it. I want to make a joke about it but it’s not funny and I’m fighting my instinct to make light and gloss over the reality.

I’m reading Johann Hari’s book Lost Connections and from what I’ve read so far it’s incredibly fitting for my needs and has already encouraged a shift of perspective, I’m only 120 pages in so that’s pretty cool. I love the synchronicity in life that brings just what you need at the right time. This book feels that way. The search for meaning that aligns with true values, unmet needs from modern life and the disconnect caused, and most importantly how to find hope, how to connect again. Grateful to have found it.

As a mental health practitioner I try to consider how I’d respond to a client in my situation. I use CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) methods on myself and identify negative automatic thoughts and problem thinking patterns. I use my journal to attempt to use MI (Motivational Interviewing) to overcome my resistance to change and find a way forward. MI isn’t really a self-help tool but I played with ideas and wrote down what I’d say as the facilitator and how I’d respond as me. It actually worked ok and I gained some insight and ideas on what I could do that did increase my confidence in making changes which is always key. I reached out to a friend who I know suffers severe depression and he provided some welcome wisdom.

All this coupled with my reading from Lost Connections made me think about the things I do just because I’m swept away in the moment and experience the freedom of a “flow state” which Johann Hari explores in Lost Connections and describes as “proof that we can maintain the pure intrinsic motivation that a child feels when she is playing”. A sense of genuine pleasure from doing something that is beyond ego and driven by sincerity of feeling. My friend said that life has the meaning he can invest in it and it can be a tentative endeavour.

This resonated with me and I thought back over the last 24 hours and identified times that I invested with meaning. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. I also read my journal from 10 years ago and smiled when I read the pages as they’re such a mirror for where I’m at now. Unlike 10 years ago I don’t need to escape into drugs to cope with these feelings, they may be hard but they’re my teachers and will help me to evolve if I welcome such growth and open myself to the change my feelings are demanding; they’re signals and messengers and shouldn’t be denied.

For All Good Carers:

On the surface my last 24 hours seemed pretty dull, I worked a waking night shift, I slept, I walked Charlie and took care of the rescue hens, I did some reading and I ate. I also cried in secret as I drove the car to work and was plagued by dark feelings I don’t wish to repeat, I don’t want to give those feelings more power than they already have.

I work in a number of settings as an agency worker and most recently have worked in elderly nursing homes, historically I’ve worked more in learning disability, autism, mental health, addiction and behaviours that challenge. I’ve accepted these assignments as they’re local to me and there’s high need for carers in nursing and residential homes for the elderly due to Covid-19 pandemic challenges.

This type of care is hard work both physically and emotionally, when people are very unwell due to dementia and physical conditions they can become trapped inside themselves unable to communicate or manage any of their basic needs and functions and therefore rely on staff for everything; to be made comfortable and cared for with dignity and respect until they pass.

I’ve had the privilege of working with a young man in his twenties who has impressed me with his willingness, kindness and investment in his job. Working as a pair he has led me through the routines of this establishment and as I’ve observed his practice I’ve been touched by his effort and care, he’s a wonderful example of a young man, he works hard and is genuinely attentive, undertaking tasks that many people would find uncomfortable but he does it with ease and with respect to those he cares for.

For some people in such settings it’s just a job and they try to do what’s required and earn a wage, this young man is an example of those who do it with it grace and I’ve enjoyed being able to be my kind self around him. I’ve been able to extend the care I feel and became aware that the space to do so is so valuable, as a society we often mock such endeavours or we celebrate efficiency over true attention and real connection.

Even those who seem trapped inside themselves have a need for connection. It’s in the eyes I believe and when working with individuals who are unable to communicate clearly I try to reach them through their eyes. I’m acutely sensitive to this and feel myself channelling energy, compassion and warmth. When repeating the same conversation to someone whose memory is impaired I do the same, I channel kindness through my eyes and I see this young man do the same. There have been times in life where I’ve felt trapped inside myself and mute and times when I really have been.

When looking back over the 24 hours I realised I experienced flow states that I’d overlooked, that there was meaning hidden. Whilst at work I was providing care for a lady who was physically immobile and unable to express verbally apart from the odd word. I was made aware of her faith and history in attending church, her love of song and dance.

Whilst supporting this individual we spoke to her and she responded to questions on dancing and singing. Whilst finishing off sorting her room on my own I started to hum and the lady made a noise, I asked if she sang at church and she responded yes so I continued. I then started singing quietly ‘Morning has Broken’, which I remember from school along with ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’, the lady started to smile and looked at me, she appeared to enjoy it. It was fleeting but powerful and arose in an atmosphere of kindness.

I’ve experienced some of my most powerful ‘flow states’ in such atmospheres and it made me remember old friends, Tobias, Joel and his folks who always created such a space and celebrated intrinsic values. I thought of conversations shared and moments experienced that captured such beauty and connection. I smiled and felt a wave of peace flow through me.

Wednesday 6th October 2010

It’s around 6pm and still involved in a Friends DVD marathon, having some much needed time to myself. Marcel popped to town to see a friend and I was grateful he did as I’ve not had any time to myself since he arrived here on Monday a bit drunk. I need some space to think over my feelings and clear my head a bit but can’t get it. I will find a way at some point, just trying to keep things steady, no drama, no panic!

Still no news on the job, I’m starting to consider other jobs in case I don’t get it, I do need to work, it does me good, it helps to keep things moving. There’s some mental health relief work advertised and some other casual jobs, I’m not sure what would do me good right now.

Yesterday I was really stressed, I paid the rent and popped to see Spark then went to Ruby’s to do some washing and back to the caravan. I felt tense and Marcel’s presence was making me all irritable, it’s not his fault I just need space, for some reason I need to be alone, totally. Then I have moments where I soften and want his company, anyways we got stoned, took some codeine and sleepers and I was very high, it got rid of my period pain which was a relief, since the abortion I’ve been having such intense pains that I nearly pass out.

I had a random memory today about going to the casino in Torquay in 1999 I think with the Chinese take away owners that my flat mate Mac worked for when she finished her shift. It was such a weird event and I remember the casino well and how I wore the asymmetrical flamenco type dress, that was red and black and strapless. Not sure why it popped into my head.

Marcel and I did a nice early morning walk, we walked to Windmill Lane and back along the river path, down past the ship yard and into Appledore, along New Street, past Dolphin Cottage, along the Quay, popped to Johns for morning provisions – pate, cheese, French stick, biscuits, a warm sausage roll. It showered so we sheltered by the big toilets then dashed up Meeting Street and Alpha Place, I showed Marcel Sunnyside Cottage, it was all overgrown and derelict which is sad, it’s a beautiful place to live, the view is amazing and the garden are a little paradise hidden in the village. We walked along Staddon Road and back to the caravan to feast.

I’m still on a housing mission but nothing available, there might be the option for me to move to one of the static caravans here will find out soon, I could certainly be in a worse place, I like it here surrounded by nature, I feel there is space around me in all ways. I want to stay close to Appledore. I need to make sure I live in a way that is natural, and make sure I get the space I need.

If I’d not had the abortion then I’d be close to giving birth right now and my twins would soon be in this world. I remember the feeling of their existence so acutely, their energy growing and how connected I felt, how in love in its truest sense. Do I regret it, I don’t know, I was in a bad place, it would’ve been misguided and selfish to go ahead with the pregnancy but it feels that way a bit anyway so what did I gain, I just don’t know.

Reading my journals always helps, it reminds me of where I’ve been and how I survived it. I may still have my struggles but there has been so much progress and so much change, I knew 10 years ago what would help me but I didn’t action it, I won’t make that mistake again.

Thank you for reading. If you’ve enjoyed the content please contribute below using the button, all support for my creative work and the continuation of this blog is much appreciated. Stay safe and well x

3 responses to “10 Years Ago: In Search of Meaning and Space to be Kind. For All Who Care.

  1. Thank you so much, I’m doing ok, starting to come through things, as always I just needed to slow down a bit. I appreciate your thoughts, sending much warmth and friendship in return.

  2. I love your comments about working with elderly people. It echoes so much of a friend’s experience in the same situation – as does other bits.

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