Thursday, 8 December 2016

A challenging, difficult and wonderful year

It's been six months since I blogged, which by my standards is forever. But it's been a strange year, a challenging year, and it's challenges aren't quite over.

In April, I went to the doctor with a peculiar problem retrieving words. I don't mean not being able to find the right word, I mean the inability to find any word, or come up with totally inappropriate words. It came and went, between bouts my vocabulary and recall were normal - as was my writing. For long periods at a time I struggled to have anything like a normal conversation - but wrote 115k words. When I looked back at the words - they were as fluent as usual and I couldn't understand it. I was sent for tests at the memory clinic, under the shadow of the word 'dementia'. There was a long, long wait. They ruled out brain tumour, stroke and since I aced the dementia test it wasn't that either. A psychiatrist took me aside and suggested I might be suffering from 'extreme stress'. I pointed out that waiting for three months hadn't helped.

It's funny how you can see other people's strengths and weaknesses and not your own. It's amazing how we reach out to help, forgive and understand people we can see are struggling, while we can't forgive ourselves for the smallest slip. 

I've moved house twice in two years, I've coped with my husband's cancer and lack of certainty around the future, my biological children essentially left home, my precious step-children moved away, the health of both my in-laws declined, I wrote five books in three years and had two published, signed another deal and have just seen my first grandchild born. I didn't have a very good experience of my own grandparents, they offered little support to my parents. In their turn, when I became a parent neither set of grandparents were really engaged with the children. The prospect of becoming a grandparent - and maybe not bonding - was painfully real for a while in the summer. 

So I stepped back for a while. I disengaged from moving house and let Russell do most of the legal stuff. I gave myself time off being a wife and mother and moved some of my life down to the cottage. I trimmed back commitments, concentrated on what relaxes me, makes me better, stronger. I fell back in love with writing, which had never been a problem, and took time (and a course of antidepressants) to get better. And I fell in love with being a grandmother. Lily Alison (8lb 3oz) made me a grandmother and watching / helping / supporting my daughter through her labour reconnected me with being a mother. Although we're approaching the end of the year with my husband's parents facing change and illness, although we're only just settling in to our new home and I'm not all better yet, things are definitely on the up.

This is my beautiful, kind, smart and loving child. And her child. It has been a good year.