Coping

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I need to have courage and to be kind to myself, because my life after bereavement and trauma is forever.

With a return to work imminent, I have been trying to do more things, push myself, and reintegrate.

That has meant testing my coping strategies.

Grief really does come in waves. As I described in this post, grief can be a tormenting tease. The positivity I felt from events last week such as a wonderful trip to Leeds after was extinguished in a heartbeat last Saturday morning.

Back were the feelings of lowness and panic, and with a vengeance.

There were a couple of things that contributed to this dip. Last week had been a busy one, and I am learning the hard way that my energy levels are limited. A psychiatrist gave me a useful explanation for this: in ‘normal’ (for want of a better word) life we spend 70% of our brain’s energy thinking of and doing normal everyday stuff. In dealing with grief or trauma, the brain spends that 70% of its energy on just getting through the day and on self-preservation, leaving just 30% for normal everyday stuff. That was helpful to explain my brain fog, my now-terrible memory (I frequently forget or take a while to respond to things – sorry). So, my busy week of ‘normal’ things wore me out emotionally as well as physically. As I adapt, and learn my boundaries, that will hopefully improve.

Another was news that the new Royal baby was in its way. My response felt silly, but being kind to myself I had to reflect it is perfectly rational in the context of my life: the news underlined everything I so badly want but do not have, and what I may never have (in terms of being able to go into labour when the baby is ready, and have a natural birth).

In response, I did the sensible thing and avoided social media as best I could until the media hubbub subsided.

Martin and I had a film day, which was much-needed. It gave us a break, and kept me away from social media.

Other things in my self-care coping armoury include colouring-in of course; taking pictures of bright and colourful things for my Instagram account; and I’m also getting more into Pinterest, finding lovely things – it’s a safer form of window shopping. Frustratingly, because I love books reading is still hit and miss, but hopefully that too will come.

The Reading Residence
And then the fun began...

31 thoughts on “Coping

  1. thenthefunbegan says:

    It’s so impossible to get inside your head – I still can’t really imagine the kind of grief you’re experiencing but it sounds like you are doing the only thing you really can and finding ways to cope when the feelings take over. Being kind to yourself is important I think. Fingers crossed work will be beneficial and not too traumatic for you. Thanks so much for linking up to #thetruthabout hon Xx

    Like

  2. Sarah Howe (@RunJumpScrap) says:

    Grief is such a weird thing and you describe it very well. I think you think you are ok for a bit and a little wave will hit you. I’m glad you are managing to find comfort in colouring and taking pictures. Of course the Royal Baby news will feel a bit odd and I hope you enjoyed your film day to take your mind off it. Hope when you return to work it’s another step forward xx #thrtruthabout

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      You’re so right about how grief can trick you into thinking you’re ok for a while, and then it will hit you. Thank you, Sarah, I hope work is another step forward too xxx

      Like

  3. Complicated Gorgeousness says:

    You describe grief so well Leigh (though I know you wish you never got the chance) and I didn’t know about that energy thing. My dad was killed a while back and remember so much all the feelings you describe. Time. That thing that goes so bloody slow is the only soother of the soul alas. xxx keep moving forward hun x

    Like

  4. bettyandthebumps says:

    Returning to work after maternity leave is never fun (I’m generalising of course, but I don’t think many if us are raring to go!). My leave was like a bubble. I allowed myself to regress. I found that, although I had learned about the tools I needed to deal with my GAD, I didn’t want to use them. It was easier to avoid unpleasantness. Now, obviously, I find myself in situations that I find deeply uncomfortable but I have to just manage. I’m not sure what my coping strategies are, actually? Okay, so you put Hugo first for a long time but he’s your son, so what else were you going to do? But, yes, maybe it’s time to let a bit more self-care to slip into the routine now. xx

    #thetruthabout

    Like

  5. sophieblovett says:

    I’ve been really struggling to juggle things lately and this post really puts things in perspective for me, so thank you! I hope your return to work goes smoothly and you still find lots of time to look after yourself x

    Like

  6. frankieslegacy says:

    Going back to work I’m sure will do you the world of good because you’ve had a long stretch off, and you’ve done the absolute right thing by having the time off that you’ve had – I didn’t. I went back to work literally a handful of weeks after Frankie was born sleeping, and I would have gone back even sooner if Christmas and New Year wasn’t in the way. At the time I wanted to get back to work and to a familiar environment ASAP so that I could get back to “normal”, but what I didn’t realise is that there is no “normal” when you’ve lost a much loved and much wanted baby. I’d coped with the miscarriages I had before Frankie, so I thought I could cope with returning to work and to “normal” life. What I didn’t anticipate was everything else happening to me – redundancies (mine and my husbands), the death of my father in law and two cousins, further miscarriages, genetic testing, more invasive tests, betrayals from people who I thought were my friends, and I was working full-time, writing AND trying to run a charity…it is no wonder I ended up in a broken down heap in my doctors surgery in December unable to cope any more! I was signed off sick and was off all of January. Now this is going to sound weird, and it is probably just a coincidence, but once I stopped and faced my grief head on that month, that’s when things started to get better. I kept thinking I would give anything for a time with no funerals and no deaths to endure – it was constant death, loss, death, loss, death, loss. You’ve done far better than I have Leigh, you’ve taken the proper time out to grieve and to look after yourself. I wish I had xx

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Hi lovely Lisa, I don’t think it’s about doing better or doing worse – it’s about surviving in a way that is relevant to you. I admire you for everything you did keeping going and running a charity. I have had a lot of time off because we were away from home in London while Hugo was being cared for, and when we returned home I needed to recover properly from my own illness – I had put Hugo first. Then there were all the difficulties with getting me the support I needed for trauma and bereavement…It’s been tough. I’m fortunate to have supportive family, friends and employers who did everything they could to support me be as well as I can be. Stopping and facing grief makes sense, things did start to get a bit better then for me too. Previously, it was all too much, too scary. My psychologist helped me get through all that. We’re all doing the best we can in the worst of circumstances. xxx

      Like

  7. Julia @ rainbeaubelle says:

    The brain fog, I totally have that too at the moment and so felt a relief when I read those percentages! I’m glad to hear you managed to find a distraction from royal baby overload, it must be so difficult when it’s thrust in front of you like that, but a movie day sounds lovely xx

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      I’m glad those percentages are a relief for you too, lovely – it’s often reassuring to hear things explained like that, isn’t it? Yes, distractions are good – there are times when ‘normal’ life carrying on regardless can get a bit much. Hugs xxx

      Like

  8. oddsocksandlollipops says:

    That explanation really makes sense – I hope you have the flexibility with work to take things slow as part of your return.
    Colouring in and doodling are so relaxing for me, and I hope you get back in to reading soon too.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Honest Mum says:

    A positive post, you are doing the small but hugely important things to help you. I love colouring in and relate in a tiny way when I was dealing with a traumatic first birth, my brain felt so foggy and day to day was survival mode. Slowly things will be easier to deal with. It was so wonderful to see you the other week. I wish we lived closer, you are a wonderful, smart and beautiful lady. P.S I adore colouring in so the adult colouring in books are on the lists x

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Thank you lovely Vicki. You’ll make me cry again. It was so wonderful to see you too – I wish we lived closer together! It really is about the small things that help you, I think. Self-compassion and whatever helps get you through the fog when you’re in survival mode xxx

      Like

  10. Tara says:

    I’m glad you are taking better care of yourself and giving yourself a break. I hope you have a phased return to work so it gives you time to ease back. It seems like a big step with lots of emotion attached to it aside from actually having to also do a job!

    Like

  11. thereadingresidence says:

    That explanation about the 70% normal stuff makes sense and helps you to see that you should slow down, I imagine. Coping is good enough some weeks, I think. You’ve got through another one, and it sounds like you’re finding some lovely self help activities, too. I adore IG and Pinterest, too, and colouring in is so relaxing. I hope you that you can get back into books soon, too xx Thanks for sharing with #WotW

    Like

  12. Emma says:

    I feel that brain fog SO much, and it’s scary because I was such an organised person before. Now, I forget things in two seconds, and it’s so frustrating. It’s hard not to beat yourself up over stuff like that when it came so naturally before… I’m trying to give myself a break. Then I get angry that I have to give myself a break, because I realise grief has literally changed my personality. Cue rage, cue more exhaustion, cue more forgetfulness, etc etc. GAH. Going back to work is big, and I hated it for weeks, but in hindsight it helped me. I hope it does the same for you. Xx

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      It really is incredibly frustrating Emma. Sometimes I feel as if I am in a parallel universe. It becomes such a vicious circle doesn’t it? Self-care and self-compassion are great, but they are not always easy to do. I’m glad that going back to work helped you – I hope it helps me too. Big hugs xxx

      Like

  13. Mummy Writes says:

    I totally understand all of this! That percentage was useful and reassuring! I hope the back to work transition goes as smoothly as possible but just remember to be kind to yourself. It’s another big hurdle and so much expectation from others and from you, on yourself. Big hugs you’re doing so well xxx

    Like

  14. Casey Bottono says:

    Hey, Leigh.

    It’s good to see a new post from you. 🙂 70% of energy on self-preservation, eh? I can believe it. Been an interesting up and down week here, too. Trying to push forward has every bone in my body pulling back and retreating. Things are going to get busy for me shortly, so I’m going to have to remember to leave some time for self-care.

    Wishing you brighter days ahead,

    Casey
    x

    Like

I'd love to know your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s