Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Operation Get My Mojo Back!



The other day when I lost it in Stretch and Flex class, bringing on a flow of tears that aren’t completely under control even today, I realized that I have a problem and I need a plan. A post-menopausal women can’t stay weepy this long without having “Aunt Flo” as an excuse, and a widow over two and a half years out can’t blame it all on lingering grief. (Well, she could but I’m almost sure that’s not the whole ball of wax entrapping me.) Something is wrong. The signs have been there since the Fourth of July weekend, ignored hoping my body and mind would self correct. Mild depression are the dirty little words I’m applying to the poor state of my grey matter. Gasp, I said it out loud! Well, not exactly but I did type it out.

When I was growing up there would be times when my mom played Solitaire over and over again. She’d pull up a red leather footstool and deal the cards, play the tricks, until I would go daffy watching her. I didn’t play the game myself until after my husband had his stroke. That’s when I bought a tiny deck of cards at a hospital gift shop and I carried it everywhere we went for the next 12 years. Spouses of disabled people spend a lot of time in waiting rooms. I became my mother only with a twist that, I thought, set me apart from the woman I didn’t understand growing up. I bought a book titled 101 Ways to Play Solitaire. Yes, I played the game that drove me daffy as a kid but I was learning 101 new ways to numb my brain, to turn it off so I didn’t have to have think about the serious issues going on in my life. Bottom line: This paragraph is leading up to another round of True Confusions: I’ve been on another binge of Solitaire the past few weeks. I should have picked up on that clue right away. I didn’t.

Clues number two, three, four and five: I’m not paying attention to nutrition, I’m on a sugar binge. I’m not getting enough physical exercise…or sleep. I’m not keeping my house as picked up and neat as usual. “Okay,” the right side of my brain said to my left side, “It’s time to climb the ladder back out of this hole you’re in. Go get your mojo back!” I say that as I kick myself for not going to a wedding at Niagara Falls that my whole family is attending this weekend. I could have used the break, even though it seemed like too much trouble, money and distance at the time I sent back my RSVP. Anyway, the two sides of my brain have worked out a plan to turn things around.

- Don’t drop out of those exercise classes I started at the senior hall last week. Great. I have two weeks to get in the habit of going then they are closing for two weeks to do yearly building maintenance.

- Quit buying sugar filled comfort foods!  Bad girls do that, good girls make kale chips.

- Good girls also sign up for the summer salads cooking class to use up the gift certificate I won last fall for the fancy chef’s school. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take place until the middle of August and unfortunately, a month ago I signed up for an ice cream social coming up on Tuesday. Ice cream is the mother lode of comfort foods for me. (Check this one off the list. I registered for the class in the middle of the last night.)

- Good girls also put their new high-tech, custom shoe orthotics to better use than just walking around the house. (Ohmygod, those things make a difference as they should for $250. My orthopedics doctor has them made and they require you to walk barefoot across a mat with sensors in it, making your feet glow up in bright neon colors on a computer screen.)

- Weed myself off from watching daybreak-to-bedtime news. Maybe I’ll pig out on the Hallmark movies---those sappy love stories with happy endings, but only after a widow or divorcee goes through hell after losing husband number one before husband number two shows up to save the day. Formula fiction, that usually ends with a wedding that the x-floral designer me can critique.

- Stay off the political debate sites. In other words tune out until the world leaders tune back in and do something constructive towards a more peaceful co-existence and/or my liberal soul doesn’t feel compelled to cry over all the injustices on earth. I can’t fix the world, I need to concentrate on fixing me.

- Take more sleeping pills. One every night for a week in an effort to reset my body clock should do the trick.

- Get a new computer chair that gives me more back support. Back pain is part of the reason I'm not sleeping well.

Well, there it is, my plan for Operation Get My Mojo Back. I hope it works. ©

14 comments:

  1. Well, even when our pot is empty from our best efforts to fill it, this doesn't mean our pot is destined to stay empty forever. It will fill in one way or another, so keep trying. These ideas might work. Progress isn't always a straight line, my friend : -) You will get your mojo back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true about the straight line. Thanks for the reminder.

      Delete
  2. Yes--especially the part of the day long news stations and political discussion groups. I can't handle it anymore either. Hard enough to not feel blue with the world situations and, with no one to talk about it, or have there for comfort, makes it just all that harder. I have been going through the depression and same things you have--I'm 30 months out, so I don't think it is still grief---but then, not have my guy here to lean on, makes EVERYTHING that much more difficult. I so miss the human touch--a hug, a kiss, his voice. CRAP!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really do think the state of the world is a large part of why I've been blue. It wears on you! Hug everyone you can, Judy. Start a new tradition in your park. I hug a lot more since Don died. But I know what you mean about having no one to lean on.....

      Delete
  3. I love how you take action. You have some excellent plans. The news is a killer. I don't think it can get more depressing. I'm filtering some of it, too. It can make you feel helpless. Too much of it skews our perspectives.

    I was pretty depressed for quite a while when I was at Dad's. I didn't mention it on my blog for awhile, and when I finally did, I didn't go too deep. My mother suffered from depression, too. Things like solitaire definitely help us avoid what's bothering us. I wrote, watched movies or read. All solitary pursuits, and passive. Anything that helped me avoid people. I'm glad you're going back to your balance/stretch class. A gal with a plan is a good thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Planning for the future is in my DNA. I couldn't stop planning if I wanted to. A plan gives you a sense of control---false or otherwise.

      I like to believe that the things we do to avoid---like solitaire---aren't so much done to avoid but rather to give our subconscious a chance to work out solutions and/or acceptance without all the "craziness" going on in our conscious minds.

      Delete
    2. I stopped watching the news three years ago. Best thing I ever did for my mental health! I get the headlines on the computer then read the stories that interest me. I don't even have cable TV in Oregon. (Kinda miss HGTV and Food Network though ...)

      For me, taking Celexa is working just fine for mojo. I went off Ambien and didn't have one sleepless night (knock on wood). Doc suggested Melatonin if I had any trouble (which I have on hand). One thing I need to work on is reading in bed rather than watching Netflix. I always stay up til 1 or 2am ... then have trouble getting up in the morning.

      I like to have at least one thing on the calendar each day. Even just meeting someone for coffee or going to the Adult Center. Also have a household project (or basic chore) each day so I feel productive (hey! some days it's just watering the flowers).

      Which means I have my sad and crying moments each week, but they are manageable. I actually enjoy the memories. Even if the grief lasts all day! I'm grateful it doesn't last all week anymore.

      Delete
    3. I'm just the opposite with sleep meds. Melatonin doesn't work foe me but I love Ambien. My husband took Celexa...a lot of disabled people have to...but I've never needed antidepressants. I don't stay this way for long.

      I would miss HGTV and the Food Network, too.I can't image giving up the news completely. It was a big part of Don's and my life. We debated and talked about the news, etc. I got a pedicure today and the 40ish year old pedicurist hadn't even heard about the Malaysian airplane that got shot down July 17th. I guess whatever works is what each have to do to keep happy is the right thing....

      Delete
  4. Again….I can so relate. I've lived with the Depression Monster on and off most of my life. Sometimes really bad, other times low-level, but there. I've learned to trust that the down times will pass. But oh how I hate when it rears its ugly head and I know I'm in for a bout of of the blues. I also realize that our fast-paced, extroverted culture doesn't make room for quiet and reflection; "happiness" is the expected state of mind. I think you are right about the solitaire thing being a time of "rest" for a crazy brain. For me, if I can just keep going to Yoga and sit in meditation, and maybe get outside for a 5 minute walk, I muddle through. I have to turn off the inner critic and the constant planner and the what-iffer. There was a time when I was really bad off when I told myself I had to do one "brave and courageous" thing every week; by that I mean, maybe, go to the grocery store. I hate when people give me lots of good advice about how to deal with depression -- it's sort of the last thing a depressed person wants to hear. What helps me is this: "This must be very hard for you; I hope you can feel better soon. Until then, know I love you and care about you and will sit beside you for a while if you want." I wish I was there to sit beside you, Jean. You could teach me to play solitaire.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't get like this often...and I really believe its part chemical from bad nutrition and part sleep deprivation. Like you, I do trust that it will pass. The "do something 'brave and courageous' thing you do when things are really bad is great self-therapy. Thank you so much for your comments here. They help a lot......

      Solitaire is evil. It grabs you and won't let you go. LOL

      Delete
  5. I am a year ahead of you and 69 years old. After 25 years with my husband, I have had a difficult time too.
    I have bumbled along by making sure I am signed up for something twice a week around noon. The pact with myself is I must go. For me it has to be around noon. That way it is not too early and I can dawdle without missing the class----and it is not too late where I just have become exhausted from doing nothing and can't go.

    One person suggested that I make sure I "do" three things a day and when I have done them ---I feel better and I can do whatever.
    I am still work in progress but I am holding off the depression I can feel lurking. A sense of control and purpose is the key for me anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the comments. Those all sound like great ideas! Have a sense of control and purpose is SO important and areas I still struggle to find from time to time.

      We have something else in common besides widowhood. I like to make all my appointments around noon to 1:00, also. It gives me a leisurely morning and gets me home before rush hour.

      Delete
  6. Your plan for getting your mojo back seems like a very good one. There is such a strong relationship between how we feel physically and how we feel psychologically; the steps you're taking to reduce your back pain and get back in shape will probably have pretty immediate psychological benefits. Whenever I fall off the exercise wagon, I find it harder and harder to get back on. Then, finally, one day I grit my teeth and get out for a morning walk -- and within a mile, I am feeling better and wondering what took me so long! -Jean

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe that, too, about the relationship between our physically and psychological health. I'm at the grit my teeth stage and I really appreciate your encouragement!

      Delete