Last weekend I was tired. I didn’t turn my computer on from Friday afternoon until Monday afternoon.
I visited Mum in the Nursing Home on Friday afternoon, & had dinner with my sister on Friday night, & we made a YouTube video for ‘Dine In’. On Saturday I had Brunch with my 4 sisters, always a lovely, laughing, chatty time: even better because we went to my lovely nephew’s cafe.. I had a Dr’s appointment Monday morning + the plumber came Monday & Tuesday, & on Wednesday morning I had fasting blood tests at the IMVS. We babysit Tuesdays & Wednesdays every week. In between I worked.
On Thursday I went back to bed after breakfast. This is something I almost never do. I usually have an obligation to someone to motivate me to get ready for the day & move into it. I was feeling really tired, almost exhausted. We have had such horrible weather events lately, & I have been as busy as I usually am, or even busier.
After I had stayed there for about 20 minutes, not sleeping, I recognised the state of almost trance that I was moving into. I call it my ‘nearly dead’ state of being. My first memory of entering this state was when I was a child. I have 4 sisters, two of them came along by the time I was 3 years old. So my life has never been solitary. When I was 10, sister 3 came along, & at 14, sister 4. By then we lived in quite a large house. But before I was 10 years old, my first 2 sisters & I always shared a room. The last of these rooms was tiny, so small that our 3 beds touched each other. Being in the days before TV & computers or the Internet, our playtime was rich with activity & imagination. We loved to play hide & seek of course, & sometimes talked our big hearty laughing Dad into playing too. There were few real hiding places in our tiny maisonette, & I remember my first very successful hiding place (to my mind) was actually under the bedcovers of my bed. The bedspring sagged, & as I was a skinny kid, if I lay extremely flat & kept very very still, scarcely breathing, it took a long time to be found. Or it seemed long. Of course the emotion of excitement had to be kept in check, & it was usually my giggles that meant I was found.
The next stage of experiencing this state of being ‘nearly dead’ was not nearly so much fun. I was 24 years old, & I was trying desperately hard to hang on to a pregnancy. I was admitted to the women’s ward of a country hospital, & told to ‘keep as still as you can’. This I did, for 10 days. I lay flat. I scarcely moved. I scarcely breathed. To pass the long hours I played patience, over & over again, moving only my hands.
I lost the baby. Then, I had to learn to stand, to walk, to breathe deeply, to return to my life, my work, & my 4 year old child. My body almost physically shut down over those 10 days. My muscles began to waste. My sadness seemed unbearable. I did walk. I went outside. I was dizzy. I stood in sunshine. I felt the air. I hugged a tree. It was strong, cool, detached, impersonal: it cared nothing for me, it just was. I breathed. And I cried.
Yesterday morning I felt this state beginning to take hold. Flatness, stillness, nothingness. I said to my husband, I might just stay here & lie flat & keep still until I die. He asked me why: & I realised I didn’t have a reason. My life is good. Sure there are some very sad things in it, there are some difficulties in it. But mostly it’s just a life, like any other. It’s up to me to Move, to Breathe, to be happy, to hang on…I got up, put my shoes on, went for a walk around the block. On the way I paused at a demolition site, where 6 burly men were pulling a house down. They had trucks, machines, skips. They were stopped, waiting for someone to come & close the huge water leak that was fountaining from the water pipe they had clearly just fractured. They were laughing & talking, enjoying their day: no guilt, no regret. I asked if I could take a cutting from the pink frangipanni tree they had already started to tear out. They gave me advice on how to strike it, & then happily broke the other half of the tree down for me. I carried it home triumphant, envisaging the flowers I might have next year.
Helen Wilde is a Teacher & a Senior Counsellor with Diabetes Counselling Online. She is the parent of someone with Type 1 diabetes and has been living with Type 2 diabetes herself since 2001.
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