Thursday 23 February 2023

Prayer and nature

Today after my dog walk round the park, I once again sat on my favourite tree by the gates. Sitting right next to the road where my mother, my aunt, and I know my grandfather walked to school on the then dirt track.

Where on his way to school he used to go scrumping apples from the then orchard where I am now sitting. Where my great-grandmother also had walked to that same school well over 120 years ago. My great-grandparents and my great-great-grandparents probably also walking past this spot on their way to church for several decades. 

Where my family had been living since 1875, always less than 130 metres from my house!

As I sat there, on this spot that connects me to them,  I once again thought about my ancestors and the many times I've prayed for them to support me, give me the strength I need to continue.

And I realised sometimes that's all we have left... prayer.

Many people on my brain tumour group say they are sending prayers to others, many say they pray themselves, that praying gives them strength and it's there when there is nothing else left.

It doesn't matter to me of you call it God Allah, Jesus, Grace or the Divine Source . The intention is the same.

The knowing there is a bigger plan is the same.

The love is the same.

And with that thought and the tears rolling down my face, a robin appeared in the branches of the tree I was sitting. Singing its amazing song. Stretching its body, up and down to balance itself against the movement of the branch in the wind. trying to keep its balance. Going with the flow of life...

Prayer and nature, sometimes it's all we've got. 

But sometimes it's all we need. πŸ™πŸŒ±πŸ’–πŸ’« 


My Great-Grandparents

My Grandad riding (backwards!) on the road at the side of the park!



Saturday 11 February 2023

The woman waiting for the plane.

She's waiting. Sitting on the hard, formal, chairs of the airport lounge with tears quietly running down her face. Others, talking excitedly, walk past but as they see her they turn their heads away to avoid eye contact. Pretending she's not there. Not one person offering even the kindness of a smile. The reassurance of a gaze.

To others, she doesn't feel she even exists. Invisible. Just like her thoughts. If only they knew. If only they could see. Would then someone be kind enough to smile? To offer a kind word? To just understand?

Life with anxiety. Where even a positive happy experience can be turned into a mountain of fear. Terrified of what could possibly go wrong. Trauma reoccurring. Just as it did before. Those experiences that over time shaped her into what others see as a nervous wreck.

"Sitting here waiting... waiting... I'm waiting for my holiday but inside I'm sitting here waiting for brain surgery again. Waiting for something where I have no control of the outcome and am terrified at the possible prospects.

So now, I'm overthinking all the 'what if's' and just feel scared. I don't know what will happen. I can never know.

I just have to trust. Again.

Accept that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has reared in ugly head again and in that acknowledgement it's a kind of release.

A fear still, but a release.

I might be crying at an airport terminal, or tears streaming down my face on the plane. But it’s OK.

I trust it’s OK.

I have to.

There is no other way.

I've won far harder battles before."

It doesn't matter if her anxiety is caused from nervousness, excitement, or downright fear. Her body just feels the same, it responds in the same way. Blank. Empty. Full of terror. Her fuzzy brain magnifying once again into the floaty, wobbly feeling she has been accustomed to for the last 6 years.

The invisible injury of a cerebellar brain tumour and the surgery to remove it. The resulting brain fog, loss of balance, coordination, and fatigue. A brain injury. The loss of words when her brain feels like its shutting down. Unable to explain to even to those who love her and will listen. 

Other people, most of the time, think she looks vibrant, healthy, and well; they cannot see the inside injury. Her scar is invisible, some of it hidden by her trademark red curly hair, the rest is internal. Her trauma is in her brain. But then there is the judgement of her looking and sounding like she's drunk, when in fact she's just tired. Sometimes physically tired, but others just emotionally.

An invisible illness.

A life where she often doesn’t belong.

Only a few understand the fight every day to keep going. Finding the joy and happiness in life rather than be drowned by the fear, getting frustrated by the parts of her she lost in exchange for her life.

Yet, most days she smiles, talks to anyone, especially those that she can feel also need the comfort.  She can tell. She senses their pain. She knows the frequency they are resonating. Always there for anyone who needs her. Others saying she's the only one who cares. Who understands. Thanking her for helping them deal with their own anxiety and trauma. Thanking her for her support and encouragement, her advice and experience. No matter the cause.

She's the one who tries to be there. To stop others feeling that pain she's felt far too many times before, when she felt all alone and that nobody else understands. 

A life full of anxiety. Anxiety that was only able to be acknowledged by others when they classed it as a 'traumatic experience'. Her thoughts and her life before that didn't count. No one saw her pain, even those that knew what was happening. They turned the other way, although they knew the traumas she endured, but they never uttered a word, never gave her support. Never said sorry. Her pain has always been invisible. So, she just kept silent. She learnt that no one listened when she shouted anyway.

Her emotions never mattered to those they should have. They were a nuisance, not easy to face. It was easier to say she was too emotional and distract her. So as a consequence, they stayed bottled up inside until they could no longer stay hidden. When she had a valid ‘excuse’ to be upset. When it all exploded.

The release from finally being allowed to cry.

So now, once again, she sobs, tears releasing the memories hidden in her cells. The feelings that need to be expressed to be able to move on from. 

She may look weak, crying, and pathetic. Yet she is stronger than many in allowing others to see the real her. In keeping going when she wants to stop. Caring when others can't see pain. Loving when others see hate or anger. That’s stronger than most of those people that walked past her blankly, grabbing a beer on the plane, a drag on a cigarette, to keep them going. She’s facing her fears head on, letting them wash through her to be released.

As she fights every day, both from people not seeing her struggles nor those invisible fears and demons in her head.

The ones she wants to remove from the rest of the world too. 

The strange thing... when she sees others in that same place as herself. She smiles, asks are they OK. She listens. She cares.

Silently she sits on the plane, eyes shut, listening to a meditation on her phone, taking it one breath at a time. Allowing the physical discomfort in her head from the altitude of the plane to wash over her, along with the discomfort of her mind. Reminding herself it will pass. It always has.

Her husband is holding her hand, but right now she can’t even explain it to him, she can’t easily explain it to herself, plus her thoughts are too painful to say out loud, then there are others she wouldn’t want to hear what she says. She doesn’t need the judgement now. So, she smiles at him, says she’s OK and needs to zone out, while fully appreciating the strength and support his presence brings. She couldn’t do it alone.

She keeps going. She has to trust.

She's more than halfway there when she gets off the plane. The heat hitting her like a wall to bring her back to reality. Once again, she's fought the demons in her head, so now she’s feeling blank, exhausted, and empty. Yet still trying to act normal and not draw attention to herself when really, she just wants to sit down alone. Maybe get some sleep, the easiest way to be able to restart again. 

In the car ride, she can feel her soul start to relax... that familiar smell, the sound of crickets chirping, the warm air, the amazing views, the sights she's missed so much... she knows the way although she hadn't been back for years. 

It's been so hard to travel for a while. Brain surgery, having to be cared for, fatigued, not able to cope with planning or change. Not to mention that having no money from her husband losing his business while having to look after her and the family, playing a rather large part! Then lockdown, isolation, rules she couldn’t agree with…

Now, for the first time in decades, its just the two of them alone. 

Eventually, she arrives at the village she's known for 37 years... loved since she was 11. 

The place that as a child she never wanted to leave. Where she dreamed of living in a villa with an olive grove, being able to fall asleep hearing only the sound of the sea, of nature, of her joy.

Not much has changed. She just appreciates it even more now.

As she finally sits down in the sun. Feeling the much-needed warmth on her skin, hearing nothing but the sound of waves, leaves rustling in the breeze and the crickets. Swallows and butterflies flying all around her. 

She cries a bit more. But this time it's tears of joy. 

They are welcoming her home… once again she feels she belongs in this world. 

Her soul can finally start to heal.


The Woman Waiting for the Plane


Friday 3 February 2023

You're looking really well...


"You're looking really well, glad to see it. 😊"

It's a funny phrase that.  


As the judgement is already there - I think you look well, so you must be. I often think it is also when they switch off to the fact you have struggles.... just because my face, or more importantly, my hair scrubs up OK with a bit of attention! 😁

"You can't have a brain injury - you don't look like you do, you can do things right now."

"You can't have anxiety - you are confident, you look fit, healthy and attractive."

"You can't have depression - you chat and laugh with everyone."

Yet, if they had seen me just a couple of hours before they might have seen me...

 ...crying my heart out, curled up in my bed, wanting to stop the never ending chatter and fear programs going round and round my head. 

... having a full blown panic attack over a feeling I had, be it something as 'silly' as feeling full after eating or a micro second pain.

... freaking out and bawling my eyes out as a (C)PTSD memory has triggered me. An ambulance siren, a bleeping sound speeding up (even from a reversing car!), one of them damn blue surgical masks, or simply my vision blurring or feeling off balance for a bit. (Easy to do, when you need glasses for both near and far distanceπŸ™„)

... not able to go out alone for fear of what might happen to me, and no body will care or see, even if it's something serious. The shaking body after, if I have gone out and felt anxious, or the tears when I can't find my words and feel stupid. 

... panicking when stuck in a traffic jam, even if I have family with me, as I feel trapped and can't get out. No where to go.

... collapsing into bed. Unable to keep going as my brain has switched off, I'm struggling to talk, can't think clearly and just need sleep to recharge. 

... exhausted from doing the household chores, walking the dog round the park, cooking dinner.

... trying something creative and getting upset and frustrated as it looks like a child has done it, a mixture of poor hand control, no coordination and bad vision.

...chopping my finger when trying to cut veg, dropping the knife, the veggies, the oil lid, knocking the bottle over... After another, after another, after another. The insane frustration of a body that won't cooperate.

...feeling I'm nothing but a burden. Done nothing all day, but still can't work out how to cook the dinner.

Afraid to live. Afraid to die. Just wanting to sleep and it all go away. πŸ’”


Does it mean that I can't have severe crippling anxiety at times, just because I enjoy talking to other people? πŸ€”


I find sitting in silence when alone but others are near anxiety provoking... I did my time of doing this knowing another person was struggling but not saying a word. It stresses me. So I need you to talk to me, to stop this fear based chatter starting up. Instead of wondering what you are thinking and finding the negative. I am the person that will talk to you on the tube... I can't stay silent. The more the energy is off, or I feel stressed... the more I talk. 🀐

Maybe I also want you to approve of me? See me as a person? Rather than this non entity that no one cares about... as the system certainly makes you feel invisible. πŸ«£πŸ˜”

Not being the one that frequently feels useless as she can't work.  Being able to do something useful for a short time is SO needed, a feeling of worth for a short while. 

The tears are so closely hidden behind that smile. Yet, only those that really pay attention ever know they are there. 

But, please dont judge, and #bekind  πŸ’–πŸ™