Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Got the Shakes...

...but not, sadly, the Hippy Hippy Shakes.

A day or two after I moved in, I started feeling faint or dizzy when I was walking out and about in my new home town. A few years ago I would have been straight down to the doctor's, demanding tests, but I'm older and wiser now and I am pretty certain that it's all to do with moving house, so I thought I'd talk about it here a bit, in case it helps anyone else.

It only happens when I am out walking, rarely in the house. Sometimes I feel as if I'm about to faint, sometimes I just get dizzy, sometimes my legs feel heavy and about to give way - not nice! Worrying about it, of course, only makes it worse. I realised, after a day or two of the symptoms, that what I am probably having are little teeny mini panic attacks. I am furious with myself for being so weak but, as so often has happened in the four years since the Golfer died, my body deals with the grief and the stress in its own way, even while my brain is fixing a determined smile on my face, making lists of things-to-do and stating in a loud and clear voice that it will be conquering all challenges in a forthright and no-nonsense manner.

And that's just what has happened this last four years. My brain has got on with living, making plans, working hard, being brave; meanwhile my body has often gone its own way, with me feeling unaccountably sad, even though I had DECIDED NOT to be feeling that way, or having physical symptoms that brought me to my knees last year - very annoying, inconvenient and instructive.

Before I was widowed, I would have had little sympathy with a woman who was still struggling or feeling incomplete four whole years after the death of her husband - I blush to think of how insensitive I must have been. And if it was not for hearing the experience of fellow widows, I would be certain that it was just me being a wimp. But over and over, when I talk to friends who are widows (some of them who read this blog!), we find that our experiences are incredibly similar and we are all shocked that we can still be feeling so bad all this time after the death.

I remembered yesterday, as the knees gave way again, that the first time I went to Tesco after the Golfer died, I had had a similar feeling - that my legs simply would not carry me the short distance from the car to the supermarket; I felt simultaneously frozen to the spot and giddy from the sheer unbelievability that he might no longer exist - how could Tesco continue to function when he didn't exist? The thing yesterday was that I felt worse then than I did that day back in Tesco, and that was what I wanted to share with you - that you can actually feel worse years after the trauma that occurred, but not to be frightened by it. I take it, in my case, as a sign that my body is relaxing sufficiently in this new place, after four years of being ridiculously brave, to weaken a bit and exhibit these symptoms, and that must be (eventually!) a good thing. Live long and prosper, my fellow rosehips and prunes!


Coffeecup said...

Dear Puddock, oh no, I'm so sorry to hear your having panics. After all that stress and now the move, it's hardly surprizing that your nervous system is feeling fatigued. Please don't say that this is a weakness though. In the eyes of society it's not seen as weak for a person's heart for example, to become unwell, but if that organ happens to be the brain then it's seen as some kind of failure on the part of the person to not be able to fix themselves! No. Not fair at all. Just see it as a sign to take care of yourself and apply a little compassion to these unpleasant symptoms. At least you have the insight to see them for what they are, and therefore I am convinced that they will eventually pass naturally. Look after yourself dear lady, you are not weak, and remember, there is no rule book for feelings, you have every right to have them on your own terms. Virtual hugs XX

Megan said...

It's absolutely true that the feelings and symptoms are still there years after. I felt the same - and was frustrated and angry at times that it happened that way. I wonder how much is that at first I was so tightly held in? I'm not expressing it well, but it's as though there was a slow unfolding of that self-protective curl and each movement outward exposed more surface.

Widow in the Middle said...

I am finding that emotionally the pain of my loss has felt worse with time, rather than improving. Or put another way, I seem to be feeling the grief more fully and harder than earlier. I think this is because I am more consciously aware of how much I have lost and how much that loss continues to deepen.

I've been spared the physical symptoms, although depression has reared its ugly head. Thanks for posting about this issue. People need to be aware, sympathetic, compassionate that grief doesn't magically go away, even after a few years. And, in fact, aspects of it can even intensify and worsen.