It’s About Relaxing

One of the things I learned from my visit with the Mediums was how incredibly good it felt to finally let go.  Even for a brief period of time.  It was amazing.   I went home that day and took a nap which lasted for 3 to 4 hours, got up, made dinner and headed back to bed landing another solid 8 hours.  I was able to sleep, a good, deep sleep. What that told me is that I can go to sleep without using anything to help me get there, or stay there.  There are ways, one just has to find them.

I know I carry an amount of stress, most people do.  I know that exercise is a good thing to relieve stress. It was actually the first “prescription” my doctor gave me after Kevin died.  She gave it to me knowing that I wouldn’t do it.  The last thing I wanted to do after my husband died was go outside.  I wanted to hunker down in my house, to lie mindlessly in my bed and will the time away.  I suspect that I may have done that, but frankly, I don’t remember much from those first few months.  My visits to the doctor were quite regular then; apparently it is a slippery slope into depression or mental illness after a shock like a death and so she monitored me closely.  I had to see her every few weeks, she’d administer some tests, we’d talk about coping – and invariably she’d suggest that I get outside and walk, run, just generally move.  Thanks Doc, but that is just not me, it’s my nature to hide – and so, I struggled on.

What I learned at the healing session, was how good it was to clear my mind.  To relax enough to let someone else in.  It sounds so simple, but worry, stress, fear, sorrow, all of those feelings are heavy, pervasive, and unformed in the mind, making them massive, overwhelming – best to avoid.  This nebulous mass is not easy to shift out of one’s consciousness.  It takes an act of will to move them, because first you have to recognize them.  To recognize them is to face loss, the memory of death, the very things you are running from.  That’s why you numb your mind in order to sleep – to stop the sadness from preventing rest.  So it was a pleasant surprise when, during the meditation, I was able to listen to the words, move with them in thought without the darkness taking over, and consequently, gained some relief.

What this experience has done is sent me on a quest for the definitive meditation.  I am thankful for YouTube.  I’ve started to explore the meditative offerings out there and was pleased to see that a good number of them have been uploaded in their entirety and are available to try.  My first goal is to try and actually get through one completely – I keep falling asleep!  Maybe it is just who I chose for my first sampling of meditations – Deepak Chopra.  (Why study with the student when the master is available?)  Anyway, I find sleep comes reasonably easy listening to him, and I have to say, what a nice problem to have.

My Addiction

As I wrote my last post I wondered what other people do to help them sleep at night.  For so long, since Kevin died actually (11 months ago), I have been on sleeping pills.  Having a hot toddy and nodding off to sleep naturally (sort of) was kind of refreshing, not to have to take something chemical to make my mind clear when I go to bed.

I  figure there are a few obvious ways to get ready to head off into slumber. For me, it doesn’t matter what I’ve tried, I find sleep elusive at the end of the day.  Consequently I have been using sleeping pills literally since the beginning of April 2015, when I saw the doctor and she basically told me I looked awful.  I hadn’t slept more than three or four hours a night, and prefaced my sleep with a good long bout of crying.  In my defense, it does take a toll – the grief and the lack of sleep, so yes, I looked terrible.  I still have dark circles under my eyes, I honestly think they are permanent now.

Enter the sleeping pill, take one and half an hour later I was asleep. Trying to get off of them is not easy.  I have tried.  I substituted a nice hot bath, followed by some meditation, some relaxing music – didn’t work.  Tried using the Tibetan singing bowls to calm and relax me, it did while I was in that state of mind, but when my head hit the pillow the thoughts came back, the sadness.  I tried working out before I went to bed, exercising to get to the point of exhaustion.  I was exhausted, sure, but my mind still whirled.  It always comes back to the sleeping pills.  I love them, and I hate them.

Kevin would always say that sleep was overrated; the bags under his eyes were a testimony to the fact that he didn’t sleep very much.  Me, I always needed my sleep, and I still do.  I just don’t like the fact that I have to use a chemical inducement to enter into sleep.  It can’t be good for the body.  I suspect that having a shot of alcohol right before bed isn’t the answer either.

Fact is, for most things there are no answers, there’s just what works.  For me, for you, for her, for him.  Whatever works – within reason of course – and in moderation – of course. This is where I miss Kevin most, he’d toss reason out the window and believed ‘excess is best’, do it until you don’t want to do it anymore. For someone like me it was like living on the edge.  Now that he’s gone I am firmly grounded in the middle.

Bedtime Blues

I don’t particularly like bedtime.  It strikes me that my sadness at bedtime hasn’t lessened one bit in the interval since Kevin’s death.  It’s been numbed somewhat by the sleeping pills I take but it hasn’t changed otherwise.

I still sleep in the same bed that Kevin and I shared. For a few days I moved across the hallway and slept in a spare bedroom but that just didn’t feel right.  So I moved back into our bed in our room.  The music in the bedside clock radio is still the last CD he ever listened to.  His reading glasses are in the bedside table drawer.  The last books he looked at were art books on Escher and Magritte and they remain untouched where he left them, little pink sticky notes marking pages likely for his next inspiration.  I have left everything as is quite deliberately. Here I can surround myself with placeholders and mementos recognizing the warmth and comfort they bring is fleeting.

This has been a long, hard week filled with stress and worry.  It’s almost over now and things are starting to look up, finally.  It was the last week of June 2014 when this journey started and it seems likely that it will be the end of June this year when things will finally end.  Tomorrow I will make a visit to the hospital, and by all accounts, it should be a good one with things progressing well.  However, until this is over, really over, it’s still the same routine.  I will go to my little refuge, my bedroom, and while I lie in bed waiting for the haze to envelop me I will look around and remember, and for that brief time in that hazy state I can believe that my family is complete.  If I time it right, the pills kick in and I don’t have to surface from my imaginings, they just fade into a solid six hours of drug-induced and dreamless sleep.

I Excel At Overthinking

Sleep evaded me last night despite my usual sleeping pill.  It’s an interesting thing how the body can resist medication when it is under stress.  The pills can put me under but they just can’t keep me under long enough.  Last night I managed to sleep for about four hours and was awake by 4:00 am watching the digital numbers flip over on the clock by my bed.  This gave me lots of time to overthink what was ahead.  I went into work feeling lousy and with an awful apprehension about my morning meeting.

I did not meet with the “new” manager; rather, I met with his superior and likely the main impetus behind the restructure of the section.  The discussion lasted about a half an hour and it was a shared conversation.  The end result was, that although there seemed to be a rush to announce the change, there doesn’t appear to be any hurry to make the physical move or to reassess the work.  The new management was not aware of my accommodated return-to-work.  They would need time to familiarize themselves and to determine the impact of my reduced hours in my role.  The specific term used was “status quo” for now. 

I miss Kevin so much at times like this.  He had an amazing knack of cutting through all the distractions and superfluous details to strip it down to the main issue.  He would take all the emotion and subjectivity out of the situation and restate it so that it became an identified, defined problem or position that we could examine.  Sometimes, after he would restate the issue, I would realize how ridiculous my worries were. On my own, now I am without that voice of reason.  

After this morning’s meeting I realized that a whole lot of nothing had been accomplished.  I had heightened management’s awareness of my reduced capacity in my role but that was all.  I left the meeting confused that things were considered status quo after a restructure – new managers, new department – how could things be status quo? I wondered where Kevin would land on this one.  I have to think, that after working through all the minutiae that I would have dredged up, he would have said something like, “Leave it alone. The work’s the same. Nothing’s changed until they change it. If they have an issue they’ll come to you. Until then, put your head down and do your job.” 

That’s what I am going to do, exactly what I have been doing all along.  Until they physically make me move from my office, which is probably what upsets me most, I will go with the status quo.  There is no doubt I will be moved at some point.  My office location is prime real estate and already a number of people have been by to scope it out and ask if I have any idea when I will be moved.  When it happens I likely will go into a tailspin.  Until then it’s head down, nose clean and mouth shut – and maybe they’ll just forget about me for a while.

It’s Late

Another night that I can’t sleep.  I lay in bed listening to his breathing, sort of.  He has sleep apnea and has lost so much weight on his face that his mask doesn’t fit properly anymore.  So he hasn’t worn it for the last couple of nights.  We have the bed inclined at the head to make his breathing easier.  It’s an electric bed that we use now, provided to us courtesy of some friends.  He has his feet up as well, elevated because of the swelling in his leg.  Really I shouldn’t even be trying to sleep in the same bed – but he’s needy and wants me there.  No easy task to find sleep when you are a side sleeper forced into the nook of the bed formed with both the head and feet up.

He’s restless tonight and having some fairly vivid dreams or hallucinations, not sure which.  So far he’s told me to listen for the guitar riff coming up in the next song, he’s asked me to hold his guitar, and then later needed me to put his paint brush on the table.  He’s a pretty busy guy considering he’s supposed to be getting some shut eye.

I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders right now.  It seems like there is a constant onslaught of things that need to be done over and above just getting through the day.  The car broke down on Friday – right after we got out of Emergency.  That was towed to the garage today and I will need to follow-up in the morning.  I just discovered that in a recent thunderstorm one of our trees must have gotten struck, I need to get the hydro company out to look at it – it’s right beside a hydro line.  We have a new furnace being installed on Monday morning (in less than 8 hours), I need to call the CPAP people about the mask, need to call Oncology about the rough week he had last week, there’s prescriptions to pick up, and more stuff that I can’t remember.   There’s more because there’s always more.  Life is unrelenting – it just keeps pushing forward and you do what you do to get by.  So for now I’m going to have a little pity party for myself and likely feel guilty afterwards because, after all, I’m healthy and I’m sure anyone with cancer would love to change places with me and have to deal with the mundane issues that I am complaining about.