Wheelbarrow Train of Pain….

Parenting is a great but frustrating gig. You think you have cracked it and then it bites you on the bottom. As annoyed as I was this morning it is now out of my system. So many kind words eased the pain….I can’t thank you guys enough.

Anxiety and frustration builds. It makes you tired and makes you do strange things. I always look at it like a house. Everything is fine and then something goes wrong. A pipe bursts. The house starts to fill with water. The pressure builds. The first thing you need to do is release the water pressure. Find a window or door to open. Once the pressure is released then you can fix the pipe. Everyone has to find their own window to open. It will be different for each person.

In my case I did have a rather foolish window. When the frustration built I would go outside and literally find a wall to punch. Not good. Going back to my house analogy. I am no Captain America or Hulk. As hard as I punch the wall I’m not going to break through and release the water.

But a few months ago I found a new window to open. This one seems to work and is also scalable. When the frustration builds I go outside to our wheelbarrow. Fill it with all the stones, bricks and sandbags I can find. Then I push it round the garden. It’s hard work on the grass and slight slope. For minor frustrations I do one circuit of the garden. The greater the frustration the more circuits I do. Todays was a 10 circuit frustration. I call it my Wheelbarrow Train of Pain. It does relieve my frustrations and is quite good fitness training. The dog frequently adds his own dynamic to the circuit.

Our son just laughs at the Wheelbarrow Train of Pain. He is trying to convince me to modify it. His idea is rather than increase the number of circuits I should do just one circuit but reduce the amount of clothes I wear according to the frustration level. As a result a defcon 4 frustration would see a very cold and naked man pushing his wheelbarrow. Thats not a pleasant thought. Not at all.

Changes is good just not that early

Today started off in the usual manner. Early morning exercise session listening to rock on the radio. Things going fine apart from the usual creaking body. Put me down for the a full body transplant, I’ve used this one up.

Then things started to change.

I hate doing the plank but apparently it’s good for me. This morning it became even more a form of modern day torture. Two cats decided to sit on my arched back while a dog attempted to lick my face off. Apparently this was one of the Spanish Inquisitions favourite tortures. But I survived.

Then almost immediately the radio signal disappeared. The sound of silence. So I quickly grabbed the first cd I could find. Black Sabbath Vol 4 and tried to complete the session.

Vol 4 is a fine album and features a rarity for Sabbath, a slow reflective song. CHANGES. This song finished off my exercises for the day. Normally at the end of a routine it’s an immediate mad sprint for the warmth of the shower. But not today. I just sat on the cold floor. Lost in thoughts.

A line from Changes had shaken me.

And I can still hear her last goodbyes

I can’t. As hard as I try I can’t remember hearing my partners last goodbye to me – blank. I can vividly remember her peacefully sleeping at the hospice as if it was yesterday. I can remember talking to her gently and holding her hand but as hard as I try I can’t remember her last goodbye. I can remember driving her to the hospital with our son but the conversations are gone. Why would I remember them at the time as she was only going in for a couple of tests and would be out by the weekend. I just can’t remember that last goodbye. That haunts me. Probably will always haunt me.

Blessed

A couple of days ago we had a sad face type of day. Old photographs bringing back memories. Sad memories. But it doesn’t have to be like that all the time. Especially when the photograph entails Switzerland.

Today I feel able to correct this….

Switzerland is such a special place. My beloved partner loved it. So did her parents. From childhood she would spend such happy holidays in the Bernese Oberland. The stunning higher part of the Bern canton. Staying in Spiez a beautiful small town on the banks of Lake Thun. Awesome views to the Alps. The summit of the Eiger is visible in the distance and always the last peak to be illuminated by the setting sun. Early mornings would bring on equally stunning landscapes. My partner would sit and just soak up this view. Today this image reminds me of how special Switzerland is and how blessed I was to spend time with my partner. So blessed. Bring on SMILING FACE. 😊

Sad Face

Working from home does have so many advantages. Fundamentally it gives me the scope to flex work around our son. The days of my career coming first have long since gone. Trust me the career first option is the wrong choice.

But home working is not without issue. The biggest one I find is the isolation. I just don’t meet people face to face anymore. This week I have had only one face to face conversation with someone not in our little family group. That’s why blogging is such a blessing for me.

Isolation. It’s bizarre that like our son I often dream of shutting out this strange world on our own deserted island. Yet isolation in ones own house doesn’t tick the same boxes. It frequently draws you into prolonged periods of sadness. Without our son in the house, it seems so empty, so many echoes of the past.

Today my thoughts kept drifting back to holidays with my partner. One image on repeat loop. An image which is on my screensaver. Sorry it’s Switzerland again. I always seem to be blogging about that beautiful country. It was just so special to my partner. The view is looking across the edge of Lake Thun to Spiez Castle (Schloss) with beneath it the hotel we stayed at adjacent to the water. Many days this photograph brings so many happy memories. However today I just keep thinking that I won’t be able to share this view again with my partner. Sad face 😔.

It’s one of those nights where everyone can sleep perfectly except for one person. I really could do with at least a few hours rest but it just won’t happen. Too many worries. When your tired the worries just keep circling around in your mind. Making you more tired but increasing the stress levels so you can’t sleep. So many worries circulating.

With the passing of his last grandparent this September this will be the first Christmas Day when it’s going to be just the two of us.. This is on top of this being the first Christmas since THAT SANTA CHAT.

Are we at the right school.

Is it time to consider sleep medication for our son. He’s got to sleep reasonably early tonight but that’s a rarity.

Which Dyslexia programme to pay for.

Should he return to school today even though his hand is still not right.

Son has not had a holiday in three years.

What happens to our son if something happens to me.

Do I replace the malfunctioning washing machine.

Can I get a couple more months out of the car tyres

Getting further behind the work schedule.

A few too many bills.

I’m not going to resolve any of these in my present mental state. I need to switch the brain off. So I’m going to try something completely left field. A hot milk (I don’t really like the stuff) and lights off then switch on. When our son was a baby he wouldn’t sleep. So we bought him a night light projector – he hated it. So tonight I’m switching on the baby projector. Lets see if the projected little blue and red stars can soothe this tired sole tonight.

Today

DEEP BREATHS – MOVE ON

Grief is a double edged sword. Yesterday felt like repeated thrusts to the heart. Focusing on what has been lost. That ‘why did it happen to me’ feeling. Everything reminded me of the loss. That video. Sad songs. Radio advertising – anything from where to go for your romantic Christmas meal to the perfect present for your loved one. Her favourite painting. Her favourite cat. That empty bed.

The walk, the wet walk did help a bit. It did help me get focused and ready for our son.

Today I’ve experienced the other side of the grief sword. The positive side. Now the focus is on how privileged I am. Even someone like me was able to experience 16 golden years. Romance. So many happy memories. A beautiful, perfect son. Grief is really everlasting love. That is something which can’t be lost.

No dreams

11.30pm – Finally lights out in son’s bedroom. Normally that would induce a mad scramble for my bed. But tonight I just don’t feel sleepy. Very tired yes, but frustratingly sleepy no.

12.05am – Attempt to sleep

12.40am – No sleep, no dreams. Still so tired. Bed abandoned.

12.50am – In my tired state starting to fill up with sadness. Suddenly feel very lonely.

1.10am – Only going to get more depressed if I don’t do something. My eyes glance over to the DVDs. Decision made. It’s time to watch kiddies stuff.

1.15am – Peppa Pig. Please tell me I’m not turning into a Daddy Pig.

1.30am – Ben and Holly. Found a new game – try and identify the voice actors from Peppa Pig featuring in Ben and Holly.

1.50am – Teletubbies. Annoyingly their tummy tellies are bigger than our TV.

2.10am – In The Night Garden. Scarily I remembered every single character name. Decided I want to live there.

2.30am – Hectors House. Now this is a really old one. My favourite as a kid. I’m not sure a dog walking round with a gun shouting “it’s a hunting gun” would sit well with modern TV Executives.

3.00am – Banana Splits. Can’t believe I’m laughing my head off at a letter box which is refusing to let one of the gang have a letter. Also can’t believe I haven’t woke my son up when I shouted “size of an elephant” (that won’t make any sense to you if you have never watched this)

3.30am Inspector Gadget. Why is Inspector Gadget not one of the Avengers? Thankfully this is the cartoon and not the action movie – what were they thinking of.

4.00am Paddington Bear. Made myself a marmalade sandwich to enhance the viewing experience – decided marmalade doesn’t taste great at this time of day.

4.25am Clangers. In my zonked out state I unbelievably can understand Clangers Speak.

4.40 Now I’m completely and utterly gone. As they say in kiddies tv land – time for bed…

Man up man down

I’ve wittered on about a number of subjects but not yet about books. Well let’s change that.

Over the years I’ve lived with depression. I’ve never had suicidal thoughts however after my partner died I did go to some dark places. I can fully understand the path those dark places can lead you down. Crucially for me there is our son – I have to be there for him over the next few years.

In the U.K. depression has been a bit of a taboo subject. You weren’t supposed to talk about it. You were expected to suffer in silence and just get on with it. Even suicide was reported as if it was some form of crime. A few years back I remember telling a friend that I was depressed, his response was “stop being a wimp and pull yourself together”. Thankfully things are starting to change. It’s now becoming socially ok to talk about depression.

Paul McGregor is one of the leading mental health campaigners in the U.K. He has now released a book based around his fight with depression and the impact his dads suicide had upon him. I found the book really thought provoking with many elements of the book striking a chord with me. Although it was an emotionally difficult read, I found the book completely inspirational.

Words of Wisdom

You’re only given a spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it” – Robin Williams

For all autistic people it mustn’t any longer be about what we can’t do, it’s got to be about what we can do” – Chris Packham

You’re an interesting species. An interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other” – Carl Sagan

“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength” – Dalai Lama

“It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a child with autism to raise the consciousness of the village” – Elaine Hall

It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone” – John Steinbeck

Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim“- Vicki Harrison

You are allowed to feel messed up and inside out. It doesn’t mean you’re defective – it just means you’re human.” – David Mitchell

We’re out of our comfort zones with depression. I certainly was and whenever I have bad days now I speak to someone to get it off my chest. I have no shame telling that and that’s why I’m here today” – Ricky Hatton

Once you choose hope, anything is possible.Christopher Reeve

I didn’t succeed despite my dyslexia, but because of it. It wasn’t my deficit, but my advantage. Although there are neurological trade-offs that require that I work creatively/smarter in reading, writing and speaking. I would never wish to be any other way than my awesome self” – Scott Sonnon (World Champion in Martial Arts)

There is a time to live, a time to die, a time to laugh, and at no time are the three of them very far apart” – Spike Milligan

Life is too short to do the things you don’t love doing” – Bruce Dickinson

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – Wayne Dyer

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” – Josh Billings

Cats are smarter than dogs. You can’t get eight cats to pull a sled through snow” – Jeff Valdez

The inner machinations of my mind are an enigma” – Patrick from Spongebob

“Bums to big” – Our son on why the Dodo couldn’t fly. Probably explains why I can’t fly as well.

Human Nature

Listening to David Bowie on the car stereo while driving into the local city. One hour earlier a conversation with the school convinces me that the they are not going to do any work on his Dyslexia. So it’s a hastily arranged meeting with the university to find out what testing and support they can offer. ‘Heroes’ blasts out from the speakers. Then I drive past a house. Not any old house, it’s a house that the two of us looked at 18 years ago. Suddenly I’m taken back to a different world. One which is full of dreams and hopes. Hopes of starting a family, maybe 3 kids. Dreams of spending a life together with the my sole mate. The most honest, calming, reassuring person I had ever met. Someone whose intrinsic goodness was the perfect anchor for my turbulent life. A world which was both exciting and happy.

Then suddenly I’m back in the real world. A chap who looks at least 90 swings his motorised wheelchair off the path and into the road. I brake as does the bus on the other side of the road. As the old chap drives serenely across the road he majestically flicks a v-sign to me and a middle finger to the bus. And with one surprisingly quick flick of the hand my underlying faith in human nature is restored…