Stress takes its toll
I knew stress had an effect; I'd looked on as friends retired and the lines, which had seemed permanently etched onto their faces, fell away almost overnight and I'd hoped that one day that might happen to me. What I didn't realise however was that stress would play a part not just in my face and my body but in how I lived my life too.
As dementia pushed at the edges of our lives things began to get difficult and, even before the diagnosis, we both started to change and I think I panicked. We were no longer a team, our relationship was going down the pan and everything I held dear seemed to be disappearing. I no longer knew who we were or where we were heading and I had no idea what to do about it.
A couple of weeks ago the 7 year old, in answer to the question 'why will you eat spicy sausages when you're away from home but not here?' replied 'because it's something I can control'. We were all stunned by his response but I could see where he was coming from and it's exactly what I did for a very long time.
I had no control over the big stuff and so I focused on the minutiae of life. I put the laundry on every other night when we went to bed; I had several sets of the same outfit (all black and all worn to every event); I had a bath every night and a shower every morning; I set the dishwasher going every evening straight after we'd eaten whether it was full or not; I had a list of dishes that I would serve and couldn't bear to deviate from the recipe and I was frightened of every divergency. I couldn't possibly wear different clothes because what would happen to the laundry schedule, I wouldn't miss my morning shower because then my timings for the rest of the day would be out, I had to stick to recipes or my life would go into freefall.
All of this then, and for a very long time, but it seems I'm beginning to relax. Losing weight has helped, partly because I no longer feel the need to hide behind black but also because I have lovely new clothes which I want to wear so I change outfits depending on where I'm going and what I'm doing; the clothes situation also means that the old laundry schedule is out of the window and I now wash whenever the basket's full; I'm cooking more and I'm trying new recipes which in turn has given me confidence to stray from the recipe every so often and the more I do it the more confident I become. I've also discovered that my hair doesn't need washing every single day just to look nice so that's the daily shower gone as a 'must'. In fact on Saturday, after a very long, hot walk I had a lovely relaxing bath before I had my lunch and yesterday, following a session of shed clearing I had a shower just before cooking tea.
I know I did all of this in the past but I had no idea until now how far from the old me I'd strayed. Now I'm on my way back and determined that, whatever happens, I won't let things slide. However for those of my friends who think I've changed completely I'd like you to know that I still needed matching pegs on the clothes line.
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