Cannabis, Mental Health

First grandchild, legalized #cannabis and semi-retirement versus #jobloss, #mentalillness and #compassionfatigue. Where to begin.

There was a time, back when my kids were young and we celebrated New Year’s Eve at home with friends and family, when – some minutes before midnight, after reminiscing about the year’s events and what we were truly grateful for, we’d set a fire in a large barrel in the backyard and BURN shit! Old calendars, bras, photos of our X’s… whatever it was that we wanted to physically and emotionally eradicate. Then, at the stroke of midnight, we’d raise our glasses to ring in the new year, then ponder and commit to great things for the future. It was therapeutic – bye-bye old year with its trials and heartache, hello new year, full of promise and wonder.

I can’t remember where the idea to do this came from (my has-a-penchance-for-pyrotechnics Hubby) or why it waned (we moved and no longer lived on a ravine) but, I miss it.

Consider this blog post the reminisce/eradicate/commit ceremony of 2018.

Top 3 things I am grateful for from 2018 (besides Hubby, Kids, Fam and Besties who are always at the very top of the gratitude list) :

Right out of the gate – the birth of my first grandchild. While technically he was born December 28th the prior year, I am grateful for the many wonder-filled hours I’ve spent with him throughout 2018. Truth is, I smile the entire time I’m with him! He’s a delightfully heady elixir to what ails me – mind and body.

Next, I’m very grateful that cannabis was legalized in Canada. While I had been experimenting with cannabis prior to legalization – both as an alternative to pharmaceuticals for my depression and anxiety, and recreationally as an alternative to alcohol – I am delighted that I no longer have to hide it. I can partake openly and continue to benefit from its healing properties.

Lastly, I’m grateful for the abundance of time to myself this year – having started semi-retirement rather unexpectedly. With this time, I was able to help care for my elderly father during an acute illness that lasted several months. I’ve also read almost two dozen books, have taken an interest in indoor gardening, and have started crocheting again.

Top 3 things I’m tossing into the barrel fire (metaphorically speaking) :

Right out of the gate – job loss. After twenty years, my old employer and I parted ways. I call it involuntary semi-retirement, though technically I did have a choice. Let’s just say that tossing it into the fire speaks for itself.

Next, my mental illness definitely spiked this year – specifically, my anxiety. While depression too has been its usual burden, my anxiety took me to new and rather horrible places. Glad to give it the old heave-ho into the fire too.

Lastly, and connected to my father’s illness; navigating his hospital stay, home care, appointments, and dealing with governing bodies on his behalf, left me with a bad case of compassion fatigue. The fire gets this one too.

Pondering the new year :

I commit to being grateful.

That’s it. No lofty goals or resolutions for me. Just a commitment to be grateful.

I’m a firm believer that gratitude will open the door to all sorts of wonderment. And, while next year will undoubtedly have its burdens (fodder for another barrel fire), it will most certainly have many delights.

Anxiety, Mental Health

#CompassionFatigue when dealing with an #elderlyparent

Who knew that Compassion Fatigue (CF) was a real thing? I didn’t.

Together with my three siblings, I look after my elderly father. My Mom passed away over two years ago and Dad is now on his own.

Dad is curmudgeonly by nature. Add to this his advanced age, loneliness, varied annoying health issues and losing his driver’s license, and you get an angry man who regularly heaps toxic levels of negativity onto us – the people who love him the most.

We try our best – the four of us. Shuttling him here and there. Visiting and sharing a meal or a cup of tea. Walking with him around the mall and helping him buy a few groceries. He has a very small life and so, the physical demands on us are small too. But, psychologically? The effects are deep and draining.

Eventually, CF leads to some significant symptoms such as anxiety, headaches, digestive problems, feeling overwhelmed, irritability, and a lack of empathy or indifference toward the person you’re caring for.

This is where I am right now. Indifference. I love my father dearly and want very much to participate in his care. But, how do I get from indifference back to where I genuinely want to help him?

Self-care and boundaries is the short answer.

After reading up about CF on the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project and other websites, and watching some videos (see one below) on the topic, it seems I am severely behind the ball. I should have been proactively participating in daily/regular rejuvenation practices (like self-care) to help alleviate CF symptoms.

But like I said at the beginning – who knew that this was even a thing? I sure didn’t. But now I do. And so do you.