• Roy Merchant

Two Days By The Lake In Autumn

Updated: May 16


Day 1

September 21st 2019

Families are out on the lake. Children pretending, they are doing the "NINJA SHOW" on the plastic rafts, slides and other water sport paraphernalia all neatly laid out in a corner of the lake.

The lake is not so much a lake, more a large pond in Fairlop Waters, an outdoor leisure centre in West Essex.It is 10.30am in the morning and I am waiting for my wife to return from her regular weekend run. She runs, or walk regularly. She says to commune with her soul. And I believe her.

I do not run anymore. I walk very slowly, ensuring that my heart and lungs have enough energy to get me where I need to be.

My stomach turns and I feel a bit giddy from a poorly carried out meditation called bodyscan I was doing last night to try and alleviate the anxieties and pain I am feeling at the moment.

I do not know if it was me or the CD. There were some very long silences in the disc which, I think upset my balance and now I am struggling to find a solution.

The last 6 months have not been easy, what with the ICD shocks, the hospitalisation, the sympathectomy operation, more visits to the hospital heart ward, high BP and everything else that nature felt I should experience.

These events and my chronic illness have reduced my courage and increased my anxiety to the point where I struggle to contain or manage it.

I have an amazing set of people in my family and friendship groups. A wife who is unbelievably loving, caring, loyal and trustworthy. Children who look out for me and care deeply about my wellbeing in their own individual way.

In my life, I never felt it necessary to develop many pools of friendships. I thought all I had to have was a few loyal elite friends. I wish I had spent more time developing a wider pool because I would have learnt to retain those friendships and how to convert new acquaintances into long term friends.

I am a bit lonely. Chigwell is a quiet place, even more distant without a car to take me to those familiar places of my youth.

My wife still works, as do all my children. When the door closes and good-byes are said, I struggle to do a meaningful thing now that I have had to close down my part time business.

But these things are temporary. I am a strong man resting in a pool of weakness. I am becoming strong again. My driving licence will return. I will overcome my anxiety and manage it better. I will know myself more and love me even deeper than I do now, forgiving all my weaknesses, paradoxes and idiosyncrasies.

I will help two of my children set up their own version of the part time business with goods, contacts and tips. I will also make sure that my other child does not lose out because he does not want to do retail. I will show my wife and sister how to close it down if they need to.

I will go to Portugal again

I will make sure that my illness alone does not define me.

It can limit my body, distract my mind, but it will never destroy my soul.

The lake is quiet now. A few people with the obsessive need to remember every instance of their lives take snaps of their children doing the "NINJA SHOW".

A few canoeists race each other in a tiny part of the small lake.

And all is well.

Day 2

22nd September 2019

Good day so far. Vertigo problem not as bad as yesterday. Will take some more anti sickness tablets to see if it helps.

Anxiety still there.

Afraid of being out of control in an uncontrolled environment.

Afraid of being at home on my own at the moment. Funny that, I used to love the solitude, now I find myself thinking of bad things happening and no one there to help me.

But it will pass.

I am anxious about not having much to do, and looking ahead with nothing in my to do list. I wish I was lazy sometimes, but I am not. I am driven, running towards or away from something, I know not which.

Even more frustrating, I cannot think of anything I have or want to do. My wife and the kids are busy doing their thing and have nothing for me to share in sometimes.

I need to get the CBT up and running. It is not just about the illness; I think there are other things going on that I need to address or understand about why I feel this way sometimes.

I feel as if I need a mental washout.

I am anxious about how the last 6 months (me, kids, funerals, car changes etc) is affecting my wife. I worry that she is taking on too much. I worry that the plans we have for our future are not very clear to her.

The anxiety comes in waves. I do not know if it is just anxiety or depression sometimes, or even if there is a difference between the two. Some would say with all the medical issues I have; they are not surprised that this has happened. To me though this depth is deep. It hurts like hell, freezes me and makes me feel fearful, afraid and uncertain.

I just want it to go away!

How do I get this anxiety settled and or managed?

Everyone is anxious sometimes. I am just more anxious than necessary over things that I cannot control. There is no point worrying about death, I cannot control when that happens- no one can. It just does.

There will always be things left undone when you are gone, so no point worrying about it.

Live life to the max, find things to do that makes that true.

Do not be anxious, sad, disappointed with your new health position. Do the best you can with what you have.

All your vital signs are in the positive, so just treat the little “pings” and “pangs” as you did before all these health checking and scoring business came along. You just ignored them.

So, ignore them.

When you are walking in the valley of the shadows, remember that / to:

  • Your heart will flutter -ignore it

  • Your eye will blink – ignore it

  • Your chest will tighten-relax and ignore it

  • You will get dizzy – feel faint -medication? – ignore it

  • Your legs will swell – lie flat, feet on chair, walk - ignore it

  • You will get exhausted – use oxygen – ignore it

  • Meditate to relax

  • Use Grounding techniques to reduce symptoms

  • Use Counselling – CBT, ACT or what suits you to get through.

  • Be confident – you have come so far, withstood so much and so have other survivors.

  • Be thankful for the love you get from the people who care so much for you (Family & Friends)

  • Try to get back to your calm face, the one that does not show all the stresses in your body, through relaxation – Relax

  • Don’t get stressed – Your wife, partner, carer or friend will come; they know where you are. You are not going to starve, die, or disappear if they do not come straight away, right now! They are fine, give them space.

  • Manage your patience well.

  • Find a safe harbour in your mind.

  • The anxiety and other issues will start to fade when you start accepting, nurturing and really loving the new you.

  • Live in the now. Other time zones can look after themselves.

Copyright: Roy Merchant Nov 2019

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