Tag Archives: insomnia

Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas

The fact that I am up (still up) at 4:25 am, playing with my blog and updating my Goodreads/ Shelfari/ LibraryThing accounts worries me somewhat. Yes, I’m tired, but I’m also so horribly buzzy that I know there is very little point in me going to lie down, because I would not be likely to sleep. In fact, sleep has been elusive for some time.

Adrenal rushes have always been part of my illness. During my succession of dreadful GPs I have been told that a) I was imagining them, b) that my adrenaline and cortisol appears normal and c) I must have an anxiety disorder. Well pah. I lost faith in the NHS a long time ago. I know that I have anxiety issues, but to be fair they didn’t start until after I became ill.

Adrenal fatigue/ dysfunction is a known symptom of ME as part of the overall autonomic nervous system dysfunction, but since the NHS are ill-equipped to correctly test for or treat such things, their default position is to insult us. Enough of that. When I can afford to, I will be getting some properly reliable tests done privately. What I will do after that is anyone’s guess. I’m not likely to ever be able to afford private care beyond the testing, so once I actually know what I am really dealing with, I will investigate affordable alternatives.

Anyway. What I wanted to mention is that this period of insomnia and frenetic activity is somewhat reminiscent of a Bi-polar high, or the ‘manic’ part of what used to be called Manic Depression. I do have Bi-polar tendencies, I am aware of this. My mother has Bi-polar Disorder, and although I don’t believe for a moment that I have Bi-polar myself, I do think I am slightly genetically vulnerable to changes in brain chemistry. I have had these occasional, mild highs before. Primarily, I have had them when taking a new medication – when I was on Amlopodine for high blood pressure, I experienced horrible racing thoughts and really unpleasant ‘mixed states’ – a feeling of intense depression and mania at the same time. The other thing that threw me for a total loop was St. John’s Wort, which I took for post-natal depression many years ago.

Thankfully I am not experiencing any of that this time. But I do feel very, very slightly ‘high’. And although there is a very crucial campaign by people with ME to ensure that the illness is not confused with mental illness (which I totally support, as I am quite, quite sure that the depression that comes with ME is not a cause or an explanation but rather a co-morbid result of suffering chronically and being treated so appallingly badly by the NHS, the media and society in general), this ‘high’ does strengthen my conviction that my particular illness has dysfunctional thyroid as an integral component, since hypo- and hyper- thyroid states can affect the brain, and in fact it is not unknown for people with dysfunctional thyroid (especially Hashimoto’s Thyroditis, which can swing from high to low) to be mis-diagnosed with Bipolar.

Yes, you have probably guessed it, I have been taking a supplement designed to help the Thyroid for the last week or so. I strongly suspect a causal link. Again, when I can afford to, I will be getting a complete thyroid panel done privately. But I’m feeling good (even allowing for the possible ‘mania’) about the feeling that I might be on the right track.

As you may have seen me mention, I posted in a very dark moment that if I didn’t get well in 2016, I would throw in the towel. I’m sure I wouldn’t. But I have a good feeling that 2016 might be the year for me. If I can get well – even by a small margin – my quality of life would improve beyond all recognition; I would be able to get out, clean my house, oh I don’t know – perhaps begin to make friends and build that ‘social network’ that 2015’s horoscope promised so faithlessly.

This is what I would like for 2016: glowing health, all our financial difficulties are over, find a better house, success in every area, and everything I touch turns to gold. Blessed beyond all imagining. “A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” Yep. That’s what I’m looking for ideally.

And if it doesn’t happen quite like I want it to, I will try to find joy in all things, beauty and treasure in the darkness.

See? This is my happy place now.

Advertisements

Memories of Lidingö

This is probably a bit random and disjointed. It’s largely taken from a series of tweets that I posted, so apologies for anybody who has already seen most of it. Apologies also that there are no photos – I have some, I just can’t figure out how to get them into WordPress.

Earlier in the week, I was unable to sleep. I was worried about the whole business of eviction in general and specifically about meeting with the housing association the next day. As I was tossing and turning, a memory came to me which reminded me that this is actually our third experience of eviction.

Last time, it was quite a different experience – the landlord decided that he wanted to move in to the house we were renting, but because we had only been there a few months, we hadn’t unpacked everything.

I had unpacked too much, but most of it was still in boxes and some of it was still in storage. So although it was unpleasant, I don’t remember it completely flooring me. Somehow, we just got on with it. It didn’t even occur to us to apply for emergency housing because at the time we still had our own house that we were renting out back home.

The first time we were evicted, we were in Sweden. We were renting a tvåa apartment – that is, a two room apartment (one bedroom, one living room) in Hjorthagen in Stockholm.

We were only given one month’s notice to get out, due to the whole apartment block being refurbished.

I had finished my course (Scandinavian Studies) at Stockholm University as part of my degree from UCL in London – the reason we were there in the first place – and since we had felt quite homesick, and it was so hard to survive there on one income, we decided to move back to the UK.

I don’t know what we were thinking. Can you imagine what it is to organise an international move inside of a month?!

To complicate things, Husband’s employer refused to let him go.

I don’t know what the laws surrounding housing or employment are in Sweden. Now, it seems to me that both these demands were unreasonable. Surely one month isn’t sufficient notice of eviction, and it surely isn’t acceptable for an employer to refuse to accept a month’s notice to leave a job! But that was what happened, and not knowing any better, we just did what we were told.

Somehow we packed our stuff, cleared our apartment, bought a big trailer to fit all our furniture and shipped it  all back (actually took it ourselves), with our car, to my mother-in-law’s house and then we flew back to Stockholm.

We had found and arranged a temporary sub-let of a tvåa apartment on Lidingö – the beautiful, big island outside of Stockholm. We were there for around six weeks, and it ought to have been a pretty fabulous summer holiday, except for the fact that I was too stressed to enjoy it.

lidingömap

I remember buying bread (I’m not sure why that’s such a vivid memory) and I remember that the little local library was ‘sommarstängd’ (closed for the summer) the whole time we were there. I had forgotten until I started thinking about it, but the main library in Lidingö Centrum stayed open, and I remember getting the bus there with my son several times.

I have a vivid memory of being on the bus to Stockholm one time when my son needed the potty, and I just had to get it out for him there and then! His dagis (short for ‘daghem’, day home, meaning nursery or kindergarten) hadn’t been willing to potty train him at all, so I had decided it was time and that I would get him trained before the end of the summer. I don’t recall whether or not I was successful. I suppose I must have been.

We had to walk past the library every day to get to the little supermarket and the beach. I remember there were dozens of flying ants all around the pathway through the woods to the library, and that they fascinated my little boy but gave me nightmares, playing to my fears of being powerless I suppose.

I remember spending a lot of time at the tvättstuga – the ‘washing cottage’ which is a communal laundry centre that apartment buildings have. This apartment complex was much more modern than the one that we had lived in all year in Hjorthagen. There, you only needed a key to get into the building (and it seemed to be left open during the day) but on Lidingö you needed two sets of keys just to get into the tvättstuga.

I also remember with envy the fantastic torkskåp clothes driers. You can’t get them in the UK, which is such a shame because, in my opinion, they are much more efficient than tumble driers and since you hang the clothes up to dry inside the cupboard, they come out in a much better condition. Perhaps one day I will be in a position to import one! 🙂

The landlady was a divorced American vegetarian, Sunny I think her name was, with a son named Attila, which is obviously memorable. She was taking her son to the States for the summer, and our enforced holiday perfectly coincided with hers. I have a vague feeling that we may have left meat in her freezer, and I worried for ages that I might have left the toys out, or left the back door unlocked. That’s the sort of thing stress does to you. If you’re reading this, Atilla’s mom, I apologise. Thank-you for letting us use your lovely apartment.

I also remember a fellow Englishman coming to visit and cooking spaghetti bolognese for us! Mike? He was a friend of a friend (Marie Åberg – whatever happened to you?!) that I had met at the Swedish Church in London. Neither of us were religious at the time, but it is a great place to connect with Swedish people when you’re learning the language.

I remember that, on the last day before we went home, Husband was late coming home from work. I remember being super stressed and irritable and worried about making our connections the next day.

While we were waiting for him, we went to the play park behind the apartment building. I remember having a conversation with another foreign mum. I can’t remember whether she was British or American, but she said that she had lived in Holland before moving to Sweden. I asked her how she had found Holland and how it differed from Sweden.

She answered that she found that Swedes were not at all service-orientated. She explained that there was no ‘the customer is always right’ philosophy. Whereas in Holland, or the US or even in the UK to a lesser extent, people will go out of the way to ensure that the customer was happy and would return for more business, but in Sweden, people dealing with the public all seemed a bit grumpy and unhelpful. I confess I had also found that somewhat to be the case myself. I had also found that you get a completely different attitude depending on whether you spoke English or Swedish, but that’s for another post I guess.

I remember that, while we were on Lidingö, Husband caught the ferry to work rather than the bus through Lidingö Centrum and into Stockholm. That was pretty cool actually. I miss the ferry. Cornwall definitely doesn’t have enough ferry boats. Ferry boats are my favourite. After hovercraft. (That shows my age a bit there!)

The last week we were there, my son lost a little ‘kramkanin’, a soft cuddly rabbit. We lost it somewhere in Stockholm, so we had to go back and retrace or steps but we never found it. He had had it since we first went to Sweden when he was 20 months. In fact, I think it was something he had had since he was a little baby and that it was a gift from Grandma. When we left Sweden, he was 3 and a half. So I had gone out to Sweden with a baby, an d was coming home with a big (little) boy.

That little kram-kanin represented him and his lost ‘babyhood’ somehow. I think I was more distressed and emotional than he was. I may have made up the word ‘kramkanin’ by the way. I remember trying to explain to the ferry staff that we had lost this little teddy rabbit, and they looked at me like I was nuts. So I suspect that ‘kramkanin’ probably isn’t a real Swedish word! 🙂

All of that happened 17 years ago now. But it is all very fresh in my mind now. I hadn’t even thought about Lidingö for ages up til now.

It is funny thinking of living so close to the seaside then, since we live by the sea now (although not close enough to walk there). The weather that summer was fabulous if I can trust my memory and I think we went there almost every day.

It was quite a nice beach although I don’t really remember whether it was sandy or stony. Stony, probably. I remember that the great big Silja car ferries came past between Stockholm and Lidingö on their way to Finland, and that as they did they caused a huge rippling wave to crash onto the beach, and that it made all the children scream with delight.

I remember finding an injured bird on the way home from the beach one day, and that all the people I asked to help with it refused, saying that “Things just die. It’s the natural way of things.” I didn’t dare take it back to the apartment as there were lots of cats around, so I just left it. But I remember being a little shocked and stung to find that people could be so hard. Or maybe I’m just a softie?

Anyway, the stress of being evicted and unsettled after Sweden began ten years of insomnia for me. I eventually managed to get on top of the problem but I know I am prone to sleeplessness. I really don’t want to start it up again so I try to be quite strict about bedtimes, and if I can’t sleep I try to avoid getting up and going downstairs.

But now we are so unsettled again I think I may need to learn some kind of meditation techniques or something to protect myself.

We saw the Housing Association yesterday and it all seemed positive in the morning. They pretty much said that the house was ours.

But in the afternoon, there was a flurry of calls from the Housing Association and the Council querying the fact that we used to have a house, and we used to have money a few years ago and now we don’t.

It seems as though they think that we are somehow scamming them or have done this to ourselves on purpose. Because, you know, losing your house and job to rent somebody else’s place is *such* an attractive and tempting prospect. (Really?)

And then to top it all, I finally got a call back from the Adoption Agency this morning, three weeks after telling them that we were having to move house. They have decided to take us off their books and close our file, and they told us that, if we want to go ahead and adopt, we will need to contact them again in a year’s time.

Realistically, having waited all this time after all these losses, I think I am just exhausted physically and emotionally. I also think I will just be too old (45) in a year’s time. Unless my health improves drastically (as opposed to worsening due to stress and disappointment), I don’t think I will have the ability to take on another child, and especially not a deeply traumatised one as I know is inevitable with adoption from foster care. So that is probably the end of our adoption journey, unless God intervenes with blessing and favour, of which – despite everything we have been through – I always remain hopeful.

 

 

 

Open Letter to My Former Friends

For over ten years I lived and worked as a home educator in my former town. I worked tirelessly to run the Christian group, organising events and activities (mostly for free) in friendly co-operation with the secular groups. It is a deep regret that the group I set up did not continue after I left.

For a few years, it was absolutely great. Additionally, I started and briefly ran a home education learning co-op, and I ran several websites supporting, helping and encouraging people who wanted to start home educating.

I am told that ‘nice people’, and voluntary organisations in particular, are prone to infiltration and harassment from Dangerous People: twisted, troubled, manipulative individuals who may even have mental illnesses such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Fair enough. I’m sensitive, I hope, but I was also a fairly tough cookie, a good judge of character, and really not about to be troubled by That Sort of Thing because I’m basically pretty strong, I have a solid foundation, and I have a great circle of friends.

So far so good. Crazy person attacks, I fight back (with love to begin with, as much as possible, but make it clear that I won’t be walked over), problem solved.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how dastardly, cunningly clever the crazy people were (and we’re talking multiple crazies). Neither was I prepared for how easily my solid circle of friends could be swayed, poisoned against me and end up making the lies their own.

Character assassination is alarmingly easy to achieve. Social isolation, mental breakdown, even physical breakdown, easy-peasy. (It was at this point that my ME became much more serious, and I’m sure that stress is a major part of my health puzzle).

It obviously helps if your audience is slightly naïeve and a bit gullible, and perhaps prone to preconceptions and prejudice. (Not quite middle class? Not quite respectable? Must be suspect!)

But You – my friends – listened to the lies, believed them, maybe agreed with them (she is an insomniac, she is up all hours of the night on the internet, she’s can’t be looking after her children properly, easy couple of mental steps to “her children must be being abused”! She had post-natal depression, she must be mentally ill!)

You held a secret meeting to discuss me.

You lied to my face.

I hoped and prayed that the Truth would out, but it took years to do so; and finally, when the crazy people were revealed for what they were – manipulative, trouble-making liars (on a scale that would make you weep with laughter if this were fiction), you turned around and unapologetically laid all the blame for everything you had done at the feet of the crazy, disturbed, probably mentally ill person who actually, on reflection, had an excuse.

You had no excuse.

Three years ago, when I lost identical twins in miscarriage, my friends (and a couple in particular) – instead of supporting me emotionally or making any effort to understand how devastating it was (at my age, after so many years of hoping and longing and praying) – said the most appalling things to me. Amongst other things, they accused me of being selfish, self-indulgent, oh and a whole host of other things that I choose not to remember. “It’s not all about you!”

Wow.

I guess not.

I am told that the gossip ran along the lines that “she was never pregnant at all, she made it up.”

WHAT THE.

At this point we decided as a family to turn our backs on the whole toxic, bitchy, gossipy scene. This kind of constant battle really isn’t conducive to raising kids, or to home education, or to family. We left the city and moved away. Way away.

It has taken me three years to even begin to feel as though I am recovered.

Not once have I had a single apology.

Not a single one.

I tried my hand at reconciliation before we moved, but it really doesn’t work when a relationship is unbalanced with one side refusing to acknowledge their faults.

I am not twisted, and I’m not bitter, however easy that would be. I choose to walk in forgiveness whether or not you can acknowledge what you did.

But I sure do hope that you learned from the last few years – not only how twisted and dangerous the crazies are (that’s a given), but how vulnerable and easily persuaded and fooled you were. Because you were had. Not only did you contribute to emotionally damaging a friend and potentially destroying a happy family unit (remember how close you came to allowing the Crazy Woman to report us to Social Services?), you allowed lies to destroy a happy, supportive, stimulating social circle and home education group.

I presume the group itself recovered, moved on, has new people now. But what we had for those few years, that beautiful supportive, happy group of parents and children – is gone forever.

I mourn what I have lost.

I miss you.

I loved you.

I don’t do gossip, and I have always made it a rule to not say anything about anybody that I wouldn’t want that person to hear. I am still a nice person, I still volunteer and organise, and I always try to look for the good in people. (But I’m a little wiser now)

I know I’m not faultless in this, I know I said unkind things. I know I made bad decisions. I lost my temper. I hurt people. I apologised. I hope I have come out of this a little bit more mature, a little bit of a better person.

If you are willing to put your hand up and say, “Mea culpa”, I would be more than happy to reconcile.

There it is, an open door.

But if you want to argue, if you want to gossip and prevaricate a little bit more (I didn’t mention any names, you know who you are and which portion of this applies to you), I really don’t want to hear it.

I’m done.

Post-script

The night after I wrote this, I took it down after receiving some strange phone calls. It may have been an excessively paranoid reaction. I have re-read the post and decided to put it up again (minus the identifying locations). At the risk of possibly making me sound a little bit pathetic, and also possibly of upsetting and offending people, it is a chapter of my life that deserves not to be swept under the carpet. Lessons need to be learned, ultimately, and I feel that the best way for me to put this all behind me and move on is to make it public.

And so these three things remain: Faith, Hope and Charity (love) and the greatest of these is Charity. Love and forgiveness are paramount. I won’t waste my time bearing grudges.