Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Are You a Lead Foot?

gray rock formation
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

I hate to admit it, but I have fallen over the COVID cliff. I’m quite familiar with bouts of depression. I am quite familiar with severe bouts of depression. This is similar, but somehow there is another element to it that I can’t put my finger on.

Earlier this week, the only way I could describe it, was to say I felt like I had lead feet. That is ironic because I’ve had so many issues with my feet and surgeries. Then I realized that my whole body pretty much feels like that. I’m certain someone put a brick into my head when I wasn’t looking. My chest often feels the same.

Every step I made that day felt like I was dragging heavy metal with me. No matter what the task.

Paralleling that, it seems like my clients have similar diseases. Many come in and melt on the couch. They cry, look like they’ve aged, and say gut-wrenching things like, “Then I realized, why am I even here anymore?”

One inspiring ray of sunshine came in this week. A family that spans four generations and is spread across the USA have scheduled Zoom meetings every three weeks. It’s a book club. They are reading “White Supremacy” a few chapters at a time and then discussing it together.

Wow!

You can get your family to agree to that? And they actually read it? And get on the Zoom? And discuss things without yelling at each other?

This topic comes up quite often in my home and in my office. There are usually bitter disagreements, cutoffs, and plenty of anger. No matter what your position is, what could it hurt to read a book together? Even if you disagree with the opinions in it, to put the effort into reading and the dialogue afterward is still a unifying gesture.

I have to admit, a good share of my misery has to be sleep deprivation. I can’t seem to get to sleep at night. I find myself awake at 1 am… A few days later it is now 2 am. Last night, it was 4:45 am until I fell asleep. Getting three and a half hours of rest a night is just not enough. No wonder I have headaches and no motivation.

But I do eventually get up when I can garner the strength to move my heavy body (literally and figuratively). I see my clients and am present with them. I make phone calls, do computer work, deal with electricity going out, the internet going out, and being placed on hold for 1 hour and 52 minutes only to find out I have to start all over again the next day. (That is a literal, non-exaggerated number!)

And the usual gratitude reminders spurr me on. Literally every person in the world is going through this. Many folks have it much, much worse. Many deal with grief and loss, and mourn loved ones who died alone.

I guess we all keep hanging in there and figure out how to get through each day, even though none of us knows what the heck we are doing.

I will be there for you. I’m hoping you will reciprocate!


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Confusion and COVID19

Perhaps many of you have already seen this, but take three minutes to review this or watch it for the first time.

I haven’t seen anything that reflects what I have been thinking about and experiencing as accurately as this video does. I am already not a news follower, but if ever there is a time to shut off the information, it is now. I find that the biggest and most relevant news out there I hear through conversations with people. I get what I need to know, but avoid the overwhelming amount of bad news. I also avoid banging my head on the wall because of trying to sort out the truth with all the conflicting information.

I think almost every statement in that video clip is something I have heard. But I’m not telling you anything new. My point is not to alert people to the fact that there is confusing information bombarding us.

My point is this:

With so much confusion, how can so many people feel like they know exactly the proper way to respond to this?

I have heard so many people speak with great authority about their opinions. They have lots to say about those that do not agree with their assessment. It has caused tension and has bruised relationships. The media never lies. The media always lies. I’m listening to the government. I’m listening to the Department of Health. I’m not making any changes. I am taking extreme precautions.

And every position between those polar opposites.

Could we be a little kinder to each other? We don’t have any research or data on the last three pandemics America has been through to offer the best practices to deal with this. The fact is, none of us know for certain how to best handle this. None of us. And the facts- the numbers- aren’t even facts. I can give you more than one frightening example of ways numbers have been skewed. Of course, that implies my sources know the truth. See what I mean? Why speak out when you can’t be certain of anything?

Let’s all just do the best we can. Make the most responsible decision for yourself and others based on your understanding of what needs to be done. Give it a real and honest effort. Don’t be lazy and don’t be selfish. But after that, don’t judge anyone else either.

Personally, I watch my clients who are nurses caring for COVID patients the most closely. I’ve known them for years and I’ve known their ethics and sense of personal responsibility. I also know they would cut off a limb or give their life for their children they think are the most precious gift of their lives. Whatever precautions they take to protect their own families is what I trust. That makes sense to me in my heart of hearts.

But that’s just me. You should do what you should do. And I respect that.


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What is There to Say in a Pandemic?

I saw a really cute graphic that had two cartoons side by side. One said “introvert” and it had a stick person sitting comfortably in front of a TV/computer thing. The other had “extrovert” and the stick person was screaming and beating their head on a wall.

Even though I am a writer, I am an extrovert. Well, that is an understatement. I am an extrovert times a hundred. Even a beautiful sunset means little to me until I share it with another human. For years I thought there was something wrong with me, but now I understand it is just how I breathe.

That is my biggest struggle with the situation we are living in. I do what I can to refuel but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult. Thank God I am still able to do Physical Therapy. I get my temp taken and wear a mask. I’ve grown very fond of my therapist. She works me hard and gives me a lot of her time. She also has a sense of humor. When she asks me to walk backward and then forgets to tell me to stop and I run into a chair, she laughs with me. I asked another patient to tell me when to stop and she agreed. She said Nancy is clearly out to get me.

I also started going down my database (starting with “A” as a true OCD) and checking out accuracy on businesses and then connecting with friends, family, and clients. I hadn’t talked to my college pals in years. We are doing a Zoom reunion tomorrow night. More than one person called me a bright spot in the gloom so that felt great. I’m only on the letter “F” so we’ll see how far I’ll get before we are “released.”

But I have to admit, combined with the five weeks of almost-quarantine after surgery that occurred before COVID19, it is starting to get to me. I wake up with the Groundhog Day feeling so many others have. I find myself blocking video on Zoom business meetings because I start to tear up without warning. It’s not usually full out crying, but I do shed a drop or two. Or three.

Even when dealing with crisis/emergency clients, I wasn’t thinking about the fact that all the outside agencies have also changed their protocols. My normal feeling of competence and the accompanying confidence I’ve developed because of that is wavering on both counts.

And what makes me want to hit my head on the wall harder, is that I’m no worse off than anyone else. Everyone is hit with this. There is no one I can call who isn’t coping themselves. It is almost embarrassing to call anyone, no matter how much they love me, to vent. I don’t want to add to anyone’s already over-burdened lives.

It just occurred to me that even though writing is an introverted activity, it is also a source of venting and purging. So whoever reader you are, thanks for entertaining my feelings. And I think for today I will imagine there are lots of readers, even if there is not even one. I will let myself feel like I’ve connected to many and hope that puts a bit of substance back in my gas tank.

Thinking of all of you as you journey through this.


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No Virus Talk

Instead of talking about the usual virus stuff, (haven’t you had enough of it too?) I thought I would just share some laughs. I didn’t want to write about the craziness in our world or the enormous amount of self-constraint I need not to harm any of the men in my household, so just some light-hearted humor.

In fact, that reminds me of a chuckle. My niece sent me a message on Facebook with a picture of the three munchkins from Oz who sing “The Lollipop Guild.” I thought it was odd but we both love the movie. Those three are funny just to look at. But the next message was the best. “Hoping all the boys there are still alive…” Doubly funny. One because she gets the angst of all the testosterone in the house, and two because of implying the three of them look like the guild boys.

Now let me explain the picture. We went in the hot tub the other day and found this thing on the seat. What the heck? It is the arm of some sort of plastic dude. We haven’t had any kids or toys in the hot tub since… cripes, maybe July. So where has it been all this time? We wondered briefly if someone was messing with us. Anyhow, we had a good laugh about the horror of finding a severed limb in your hot tub. Now, that’s a bad day.

Today, I royally smashed my pinkie and almost fell over from how bad it hurt. (Stop laughing, that’s not the funny part.) It actually bled for a bit which I was not expecting. Anyhow, I asked Tim if he could get me a bandaid. Just a little one I said. It’s my pinky.

He brought a little one but insisted on a good size gob of first aid gel, which I thought was a bit over the top. Then he moves me into the best lighting in the house. He said he needed the counter as well so he could work with someplace to put his things. I kept my mouth shut (I know, it’s a miracle) but I wanted to say, “For God’s sake, it’s a bandaid, not surgery!” I couldn’t believe how serious he was about his mission.

Here’s the funny part. He screwed it up. The bandaid got folded over and he cursed. I could no longer contain myself. I laughed and laughed. He said I was mean and went out to the garage. I went to the door and yelled out, “I love you, honey” to which he yelled back, “Shut up!” (which I also thought was funny).

He was kidding and he gave me permission to write this. I told him thanks for the writing material and he again said, “Shut up!”

Last but not least, we were talking to my friend Star on the phone. We had the speakerphone on because privacy is a thing of the past. We might as well put the speaker on. He is always a welcome call in our house because he is hilarious. Anyhow, he was brave enough to go to the bank to deposit his paycheck so we were having our daily chat. Next thing we know, he has pulled into our driveway. We hung up and went to the window. He yelled hello to us and chatted from his car. We were laughing so hard at our surprise, more-than-six-feet-away visitor.

I think these stories don’t translate on paper nearly as well as I was hoping they would. We certainly found humor in them. Maybe some of you are bored enough that you will laugh too.