Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Old Anniversary Reaction — and a Change of State

Feeling useless, dull, vaguely pissed off. Each day I make plans to pull myself out of it, clean up the house, start on various projects waiting. Each day, instead, I stay in dressing-gown most or all of the day, do the minimum required to take care of cats and self, only go out to the shops if I absolutely must, can't be bothered writing poems or reading anyone else's, almost forget to turn on the news at night — that important lifelong ritual! — and bury myself in escapist books. (Melina Marchetta and John Marsden, the literary end of Young Adult — but escapist all the same: immersing myself in fictional lives rather than be present in my own.)

I think I am describing mild depression. My mother suffered long-term depression late in life. I have friends who have severe episodes of the disease. But, thankfully, I never experienced it. Well, not until becoming widowed. I have now discovered it is one of the stages of grief. And, as I have mentioned before, those stages do not happen in a nice, orderly, linear progression — no, they get all mixed up and tangled; and they like to ambush you, sneak up and pounce unexpectedly. I know I'm lucky the depression bits have been slight for me, but they are a nuisance. Being pissed off is part of the depression — and then I get pissed off about the depression. Vicious circle.

However, anger is a form of energy, and it also helps lift depression. Lacking good, honest, passionate fury, this lack-lustre, can't-be-bothered pissed-offness will have to do. Action! What can I take action on?

I know the cause. It's the good old anniversary reaction, two years on from the time in which Andrew started to die ... and did die. But what exactly was going on today, two years ago? Thank goodness for the invaluable FlyLady calendars, which I keep for future reference. And for my Shifting Fog: Dwelling with Dementia blog, and my Personal Journal (also a blog, but a private one for my eyes only).

Today, two years ago, I was just about recovered from the ghastly flu that hit me at the same time Andrew went to hospital for the last time. (Not that we knew it then for the last time.) I couldn't visit him for the first week he was there: I needed to get myself well, and also not take infection into the hospital. I was giving myself this one more day to make sure I was fully recovered. I was in limbo, wanting to see him yet dreading the news I had to give — that he would have to go from hospital into permanent care, for both our sakes. It was all too clear I could no longer look after him adequately, and was risking my own health trying.

An astrologer had told me a few months before that if I didn't get him into permanent care by September, I myself would become seriously ill. I had been hoping to compromise, getting by with frequent respite visits to the lovely Heritage Lodge and having him home between times. It seems the Universe took a hand. In one way it was just in the nick of time that he ended up in hospital at that point — for himself as well as me. No way I could have continued meeting his care needs as he went into decline.

But I didn't know that, this day two years ago. I still thought he could have a lot of quality of life left, and many months left.  This day two years ago, I was partly savouring one more day to myself to get well, partly yearning to actually see him and spend time with him again. And, as I said, I was having to confront a new reality.

I was wrong, of course, as to the details of that. When I saw him again, next day, it was obvious he was dying.  He went from hospital into palliative care on August 23, and died on September 3, by which time he had had visits from all his children. I was fully engaged, then, in the needs of the immediate moment. So if the anniversary reaction holds true, perhaps tomorrow I'll be able to swing into action and get a few things done.

One thing I did, this day two years ago, my Personal Journal shows me, was give myself a detailed Tarot reading about my situation. The overall card was The Tower — dramatic and apparently disastrous breakdown of the structures one has built up; for the best in the long run, letting in new energy; embrace the new.

In detail I was told to get out into nature, socialise with my women friends, listen to my guidance, further develop my magickal self. Yes, I have been doing all those things. It doesn't take away my loss, but it keeps me occupied, sometimes interested and sometimes even joyous.

On a TV show the other night, someone was widowed, and was shown a couple of years later having got on with her life. Clearly she still deeply missed her man.

"What do you do when you're faced with a bereavement?" her son said to the interviewer. "You carry on. There isn't a choice. You have to carry on." I knew exactly what he meant.  Today, I suppose, I am having a little rest from carrying on. And for the last few days — equivalent to when, two years ago, I was laid low with gastric flu.

Nevertheless, I made a small yet conscious shift today. I suddenly registered that the Personal Journal had a dry, empty, desert background. The text was in a narrow column with tiny writing, hard to read. The better to display the bleak background? OK, so it's not on public view, but I get to see it. Why would I put that into my subliminal consciousness? It must have reflected my mind when I did it — my private, inner mind (my public blogs are brighter and prettier) — but I'm not willing to put up with that environment now, even in private cyberspace.  I changed it to a picture of a dinghy on calm blue water, with deep blue mountains on the far shore and an expanse of sky only slightly streaked with cloud. It reminds me of the 6 of Swords Tarot card, which represents a journey to a place of earned peace. I've also enlarged both the text box and the font. I believe we are emotionally affected by what we surround ourselves with, consciously and subconsciously.


A little while ago, a friend rang out of the blue to say she was coming into town and would I like to meet her for coffee. I had even thought of phoning her this morning to suggest a meet-up, then decided, "Oh no, she'll be too busy." Lucky she's so tuned-in! So I am dressed after all, waiting for her to text me that she's there. It's a very quick trip to town from here. My mood is brighter already. So — not a very serious depression!

This friend never knew Andrew, though of course she knows of him. She is one of a number of new friends I have made in the last two years, since I have been freer to get out and about and meet people. Life, as they say, goes on.


  1. hey Rosemary. i love that you changed your journal...that you cared enough for you!
    ( I hope that little red velvet pansy is in the ground by now; rain is a- comin'... beautiful cleansing rain...)


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