“If I could pay to have you in therapy for the rest of your life I would”
Is what one of my doctors said to me a few years ago. I don’t take it as a negative thing as therapy and talking works for me, certainly better than most medication, although in the long run that has helped as well.
It was good to realize that I can look forwards rather than constantly backward on my life. I have never been a one to get excited about what’s going to take place in the next six months, more regretting what has happened and why things went so wrong.
Having someone that’s completely independent, someone doesn’t know anything about who I am or what I have done, giving their honest opinion. As the therapist said ‘I am not here to tell you what you want to hear’.
The opinion on matters and what they think about them. Unlike someone who has known you for some time, they aren’t afraid to give their honest response. One of the things I noticed I was doing was apologizing for those things that interest me like books, religion, and music. I always got a strange look and a pitied reply when I told them that my degree was in Religion. It seems I have had to apologize a lot for what I like.
Things have changed in the last few months. I have managed to get on a plane and fly to another country on my own. If you knew what state I was in twelve months ago you wouldn’t believe I would be able to do such a thing. But I have and I will continue to get better and more confident. There have been some knocks but I am resigned to put that in the past and moving on.
Last week I gained the most visits and views on my blog here than ever before and that has made me one happy person. Not that I am sitting hoping that I get thousands of views but to know that maybe some people are interested in those things I often apologize for.
I spoke in the last blog about remembering the time when my father died and how it has affected me now that my mother is no longer with us. There are some people who stick to death and bereavement like chewing gum sticks to the cat. But how do we move on?
Firstly, do you want to move on? There seems a thread now in society that if we aren’t at the grave every week or sometimes even every day that we have forgotten the person or the person somehow doesn’t hold the same meaning to us when they were alive. I have seen and read numerous times how families are clinging on to the memory of their loved one in some vain attempt to keep them alive. Siblings forced to mourn for a brother or sister they haven’t even met.
Because you are moving on with your life that doesn’t mean you forget the person or love them less. Building shrines to someone aren’t helpful. I will talk about the person but there are times now after the stage of mourning where you have to start living your life again. Sitting around thinking about the person you have lost all day isn’t helpful or healthy.
I am not a one to shy away from bereavement and expressing the hurt and pain it causes. At my funeral, I don’t want any of this ‘celebration of life’ crap. I want crying and tears. Then when you have done the dishes and hoovered then you can raise a glass or seven and then start moving on with life. I am dead. Gone. Not coming back. No amount of bright colours or waving off balloons is going to bring me back. I might joke about this but I know that a lot of people want a celebration of life and there is nothing wrong with that either. It’s not me and not who I am.
People who post messages to a person on social media like they are looking in from another spiritual dimension can be helpful for younger people in the beginning but again I have read where people are posting messages about how the person who has died will be drinking alcohol and spending Christmas on a cloud somewhere. A bizarre way to view the afterlife and a little childish in my opinion.
Bereavement can cause a whole raft of behaviours that are strange. It’s when that behaviour is unhealthy or even dangerous that help should be given. It can cause serious mental illness and as someone who has suffered from depression for over twenty years I have had to be aware of my own health and keeping that from slipping downwards.
The best advice I have heard in the past few months is taking a few small steps into the world again but don’t expect change over night. I am terrified of leaving my home town and going on holiday. I am racked with guilt about ‘enjoying’ life. Somehow it seems wrong to have a life outside of mum. Having been her carer for so many years. But if I was to ask what she might say about my guilt, she probably would laugh, and ask ‘What on earth have you got to feel guilty about?’.
She would then chastise me for being silly and tell me to move on. It would have been her way of dealing with things. Dismissing them and then getting on with life. If life was as easy as that I wouldn’t be writing this blog in my living room but in the south of France somewhere.
So you take small steps until you are ready. I went for bereavement counselling as part of those small steps I am not ashamed to say I got help. There is no shame in asking for help from anyone. It hasn’t been easy but I am glad I did it. It doesn’t make me any weaker or less of a man it means I am being honest about what I am feeling and willing enough to take steps to being well again.
I few weeks I posted a blog about looking towards the future and trying to comprehend life after the death of my mother. The post got me thinking that taking small steps to achieving something was the way forward. I know that from time under the CBT therapist she mentioned about setting smaller goals and putting a step forward in ways I know that could be measured and achievable.
I turned to one of my great loves. Photography? no. Drinking? no. Ogling young men? NO! Just tell us!!!
It always makes me chuckle when people ask me if I like a certain food as I pat my belly as say I didn’t get this size chomping on sticks of celery. I learned to like all food. It was a given in my household growing up that if you didn’t like what you were given you would go hungry as there was no alternative.
So I decided to make the thing that I really wanted to eat. Gone are the days when people cooked traditional food in the house. It’s now ‘pub food’ or ‘gastronomy delights’ and that sort of crap. I do like meat and I am a fan of the steak and kidney pie. I thought I would try it first rather than the steak and kidney pudding which my grandmother used to make.
So I have cooked and prepared. At the moment the meat is cooking and I have other stuff to do. I haven’t made the pastry from scratch because I don’t want to try everything at the same time and I haven’t made pastry since I was a kid.
I had a look back at my blog and thought I must have written about him hundreds of times only to realise I think I mentioned him once when I had bought an autobiography for 1p on Amazon. That’s it. It is strange what you perceive in your own mind and what is the reality. Things couldn’t be any different once you delve into the past.
I feel an affinity towards Kenneth Williams not only did he appear in the 26 of the most successful British comedy films through his life but he was a consummate raconteur of the talk show circuit in the 1970s and 80s. He was a brilliant panelist on Just a Minute a BBC radio show from 1968 until his death in 1988. The premise of the show is talking and this was his craft and he honed it to perfection.
Kenneth Williams led a reclusive and sad life. He wouldn’t allow people to visit a sparsely decorated flat that he lived in. He hated any kind of germs or untidiness. He was brought up in a strict Wesleyan Methodist household. It was certainly different from the Methodism we see today. High morals and certainly a disapproving of someone who was seen to be a homosexual. It would have been seen as a sin and a dark cloud that would have irritated and upset Williams’ father, Charlie.
It was only in 1967 that Britain decriminalised homosexual acts and by this time Kenneth was well into his forties. The deep spiritual belief that being gay was a sin was entrenched into Williams’ psyche something that he wouldn’t be able to accept or come to terms with throughout his life.
Even meeting the playwright Joe Orton with his liberal views wasn’t enough to shake off the British facade of wearing the collar and tie even on the beach. You had to look the man to be the man.
My mother was desperate for me to emulate older people within my family unit. “Why can’t you dress like your uncle so and so?” She used to ask me. Growing up with someone who believes that in the 1980s young teenagers should dress like someone in their late 60s caused a great amount of conflict in my house. Especially when it came for me to tell them I had become a Christian and would be regularly attending the local church. My mother was horrified that I was going to church each week dressed in jeans and t-shirt. I had become morally bankrupt in her eyes.
My life seems to have been almost a copy of Williams on paper. His father was Welsh. The religion was Methodist as was my mother’s. We both suffered from depression and conflicts due to being gay. Always the consummate clown from an early age. I was berated by my mother when they received the annual school report to say Philip is messy and a chatterbox. I can remember from the age of six thinking up my first joke. I explained to this to my mother many years later that in conversation with who it may be my brain is thinking of a funny line to say. If I do think it’s funny, I will say it. If it isn’t I won’t. Other times I will say things without thinking and some people do laugh but others seeing as being crude or rude.
Williams quoted someone in one of his television appears about being an atheist. The person in question had asked what if all of life was just a joke and there was no God. The person responded by saying if it is a joke let’s make it a good one.
The BBC have been highlighting the issue of mental health with week of programmes about the problems that people have faced with getting a diagnoses and treatment. The first programme retraces Stephen Fry’s life and how he has had to adjust things to cope. Ten years on from his award-winning programme about a secret life of a manic depressive.
I cannot believe that it is ten years since he made the programme and four years since he visited a country of Uganda with it’s hideous and rampant homophobic views of their politicians who have passed laws deliberately target those in the gay community. Seeing it as a ‘sin’ which must be crushed and eradicated. The established church have a lot of serious soul searching in fuelling that homophobic view of gay people seeing them as some sort of curse or deviant negative force in the world.
It was good to hear on the programme the different experiences that others had in having to cope with serious mental illness. It isn’t just a matter of snapping out of mood of feeling sorry for yourself or long-term sadness.
I know that looking at recent experiences and having to evaluate my own health and life that I need to make sure that I am doing everything in my own power to protect myself from being swamped by the over-whelming feeling of worthlessness and look introspectively.
Having cared for my mother for such a long time and that being my entire focus I may I have taken my eye off the ball and not realised that I too must take care of my own health. Allowing myself to grieve and taking time to get my love back for life and the things I appreciate and care about.
In my last blog about Music I said that I had listened to music over the past few months and it has given me comfort. Even more so in the past month in 2016. I have said before I have loved music since I was about eleven but I love it when new music comes out and really get into albums. Obviously I am a tad excited about the new Pet Shop Boys album out 1st April called “Super”.
Here are some of the songs and their videos that have helped over the past few months. I have mentioned some of the artists before, some you might have heard of and others you certainly will know.
Troye Sivan – Wild – Blue Neighbourhood
A great song about new relationships. Realising that what you had at the time was pretty crap hence ‘Blue Neighbourhood’ leaving the past behind and knowing that you are going to start on something new which for him seems pretty special.
Justin Bieber – I’ll show you – Purpose
A beautiful video shot in Iceland. It’s a confession. He knows he has fucked up in a lot of things in his life. Haven’t we all? But most of our stupid moments aren’t played out on the world’s stage as his are. Some will be publicity stunts others will be genuine moments of madness. He said he isn’t perfect. I have asked before sometimes if his management have a tighter rein on him and now he is an adult he will be rebelling. Everyone should be given grace and redemption. Makes me realise you can have everything that you want and still not be happy.
Scream – Michael Jackson (ft Janet Jackson) – HIStory : Past, Present and Future Book 1.
I hadn’t really listened to this song for along time (I cannot believe it was released over 20 years ago) but events in December 2015 brought it to mind and it fitted perfectly. You only need to watch the video to realise how stressed MJ was at the time. Partly his own fault and partly tabloid garbage. This song really helped. Helped me vent my anger.
Adele – Hello – 25
There is nothing better knowing that what pain you have gone through someone else has been through the same. I love this song as it takes me away from current things and makes me think of people from 15-30 years ago. I wonder what they are doing now? Would they like to meet? Do you ever think they think fondly of the time we spent together? These questions go through my head.
Loved me Back to Life – Celine Dion – Loved Me Back to Life
I mentioned in 2013 that I had someone who did love me back to life. I love him to bits. It’s only when you know true love that you do find happiness. Finding a person who loves you unconditionally and you love them back is hard to find. There are so many who I thought were good friends and have turned out to be nob heads.
Stranger in Moscow – Michael Jackson – HIStory : Past, Present and Future Book 1
This is a bleak song about loneliness and despair. I am sure underneath all of Michael Jackson’s talent and craziness probably was a person who just wanted to be normal. When you are in the depths of depression and loss you don’t feel like anyone cares and you are isolated from the rest of the world. It’s an awful feeling.
Bond Meets Stacey – OST A View to a Kill
What an odd piece of music you might think. It is take from the scene in A View to a Kill and I have listened to it over and over again. Beautiful. The reason I have included it is that mum LOVED the Bond films. When her dementia finally took over I heard this music come on my iTunes and I couldn’t stop crying at the time. It over-whelmed me. To know that she wouldn’t be able to watch and appreciate these films any more. It filled me with such sadness. It also helps me now to look over the years and decades I looked after mum putting on a DVD for her which she loved and appreciated.
Parts of the USA getting blanketed with snow. People stranded and others very sadly have lost their lives. We are at the mercy of mother nature and the ever changing weather patterns across the world. If you are in the UK you would have heard the news about the localised flooding which has caused millions of pounds of damage to peoples homes and businesses.
When you are in the middle of it all and you are seriously affected by it it seems like the pain and misery caused by the weather will never go away. People who have to literally rebuild their homes can take months and even years to put back together the life that they once new. Sometimes it cannot ever be the same again. You are left still with the mental damage that this has caused. My thoughts are certainly with the people who have lost loved ones in serious weather conditions.
This weekend has been the first time in months that I have felt ‘normal’. I was used to waking each morning full of anxiety and dread of what the day will hold. It took a few hours of that anxiety to go and somehow I would calm down. That no longer happens. I can wake in the morning and feel like normal human being.
After looking after mum and grieving for her you have to put your life back together. Things that were dismantled and put on hold will need to be restarted. The storm has passed but it’s time to get on with things and sort out that which needs to go and others things that can be salvaged. The key thing is not going too fast and making a mess of things. Progress of this sort takes time and patience.
It’s been a cold week. I haven’t been going out much as I have been recovering from a winter bug which saw me laid up in bed for the best part of two days doesn’t really help when you aren’t feeling the best in the first place. It was bad because I was waking up thinking I was back living at my parents and they, when you realise where you are at it, makes you feel like crap.
I don’t know what it is when I’ve got older I have become less tolerant of the cold. I was talking to a friend about this and they said it doesn’t bother them. Just put more layers on. I think it’s more to do with hardwiring in my head that has a lot to do with it. Trying to protect me and feeling safe. If I feeling I am a little out of my depth or insecure going to somewhere and it makes me uncomfortable for whatever reason it will cause distress. It is a self-preservation mechanism that kicks in.
The spring and the summer are great. Nothing better than flinging the windows and doors open allowing the warm air to go through the house. Sitting in the garden and admiring the view (when it looks nice and not like a council landfill site as it does at the moment).
On Saturday night I couldn’t stop crying. I feel okay today. Yesterday was okay. But with having lost a mother sometimes grief hits you when you least expect it. This song perfectly puts in to words what I was feeling. Particularly the lines …
I may have made it rain,
Please forgive me,
My weakness caused you pain,
And this song’s my sorry.
We all take our health for granted until something goes wrong. Mostly people suffer from coughs and colds and that be a couple of weeks where you feel like you are close to death. Man flu is real get over it.
It was last year when felt a lump in my chest that was sore. It was rather painful and I am not scared of these sort of things. You roll up your sleeve and you get yourself to the doctor. Sitting there wondering what it is and thinking it will go away doesn’t help at all.
I made an appointment to see my doctor and they weren’t too sure what it was and they knew that they could feel something there. I was sent to the breast clinic. I was that obviously it was going to be me and woman and that didn’t bother me at all. I saw a surgeon and he examined me and said he would take a biopsy. The worse thing about it was that he did it without an aesthetic and boy did it hurt. I was told by his nurse that I was one of their patients as I didn’t make a noise. I didn’t even get a gold star or a lolly for being good.
I also had a mammogram on both ‘breasts’ so to speak. In total I was in the hospital for four hours. Not the nicest of experiences I can tell you. I went on my own. I have never had anyone with me on these sort of things. I much prefer to go on my own.
I waited a few weeks and got the results from the biopsy and that was fine but there was a problem with my hormone levels and I had to have them rechecked. I had the blood test and again it confirmed that my testosterone levels were really low. This was the reason I was feeling really tired and just couldn’t get enough sleep. It didn’t help that mums health was deteriorating and took all my energy to look after her.
So I was sent to another consultant at the hospital who said he wanted to to a whole lot of tests to determine why the hormone levels were so low. I had to have and MRI scan on the brain. It’s the most pleasant of things and if you have ever had one you will understand.
So I waited for a few weeks it was then I got a letter from my own doctor to tell me that I had to make an appointment to see them as they had some information from the consultant that they wanted to discuss. I put it to once side thinking it was going to be nothing. Did worry at all.
So I went up to the doctors and he went through the records as I explained that I had more blood tests and an MRI. He said “Ah yes …”.
He told me that the MRI had shown a small tumour attached to the pituitary gland which controls all things to do with hormones. He said that this is probably the reason why my hormone levels were so low. At first I was in shock. I just couldn’t believe it. I knew I was feeling knackered and I put that down to the depression and looking after mum.
The doctor told me that that tumour was benign which I suppose was good news. I had been told that I have to testosterone injections every three months. It’s like have a wasp sting every time it happens but the soreness goes away after a day. Sometimes I do get tired. But I don’t feel anyway like I did six months ago when no matter how much sleep I was getting I didn’t feel any better.
I have to have another MRI next year to see how the thing is see if it growing. If I have any other symptoms obviously I have to go back to the doctors and they will take it from there. It’s an easy operation to remove it. I made the mistake of googling it and I wish I hadn’t.
So as we hurtle towards Christmas I will start and look after myself as my doctor told me yesterday. It is time that you had some time to yourself and putting me first for once after all these years and I intend to do. I don’t know what the future hold I have no idea what will happen. I will take each day as it comes I have done for the past five years.