I have been trying to write this blog for days now. To be fair, most of the time I was too spaced out on drugs to be able to think straight. I had days when I couldn’t even open my eyes and the hallucinogenic effect of the opiates made me confused and I didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t.
The reason that I really struggled to write the blog though, was that I was so disconnected from what I was writing. I was writing about hospital and all the drugs but not really about how I am feeling.
I had a really profound and magical coaching session with Danielle yesterday. I realised that I had gone back to my default of checking out of my body emotionally while I have been in hospital. I have been so terrified about how ill I feel that I have been numbing. I have done this a lot in my life. I have been a party girl and some of the ways that I have found to numb myself and check out of being present would make some people’s toes curl. You name it, sex, drugs, alcohol, busyness and just shutting down completely emotionally, I have done it.
Over the past 18 months, I have been on the start of a long journey to stop numbing myself and love myself. To nurture my body and treat it with the love and respect that it deserves. But shutting down emotionally and numbing is my default and that is what I did while I was in hospital.
The truth is that I am absolutely terrified about how ill I am and the speed at which I am going downhill. I am terrified that this is what the rest of my life looks like, in so much pain that I can’t really do anything. So weak that I can barely walk to the toilet. Having a shower is exhausting. So scared that just when I have found my true love, I am going to leave too soon. So I have spent 10 days in hospital so spaced out on opiates that I couldn’t function, couldn’t think and could barely open my eyes. Danielle broke through all of this in about 5 minutes. She just has a magical power to get to the other side of the emotional wall that I build around myself and get to the core of my fear. I sat and sobbed with her, as much as I could with my liver in agony and she just held me, with her hand on my heart and allowed me to sit with all of my fear. Sit with my mortality.
Being in hospital for 10 days was horrid. The staff were amazing and made me feel genuinely cared for. I was on the same ward that I was on the first time I went in and they were genuinely pleased to see me, even though for my sake, they wished they weren’t having to look after me again. They were very attentive and couldn’t have done more for me if they tried. But a hospital is no place for healing. It was like Piccadilly Circus in my room with people coming in to check my vital signs, giving me medication, the palliative care team checking how the drugs were working, the doctors from oncology coming in, people offering me food, cleaners and bed changers. There really is no rest and so I just got myself as spaced out as I could. Every day I felt worse, I couldn’t sleep at night and couldn’t keep my eyes open during the day. I was getting weaker and weaker.
I had two coaching calls with Danielle, which I can’t remember having. I also had at least two conversations with Kim, which I don’t really remember either, except that he was helping to me go into my body and reconnect with the pain.
I was discharged yesterday and it took hours to get everything arranged and all of my drugs dispensed. I didn’t get home until gone 8pm and I was exhausted. I had some soup as I had barely eaten anything all day and got into bed. I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt to get into my own bed. I had just over 9 hours sleep and only woke a couple of times in the night, which is amazing as I was waking up every 90 minutes to two hours in the hospital. I felt so much more human today. I am now only taking the base dose of Oxycodone, which is an absolutely massive dose along with buscopan to relieve the spasms and paracetomol. In hospital I was constantly taking top up doses of Oxynorm, which is the liquid form of Oxycodone in ever increasing doses. I realised though on the last night, that they really weren’t making any difference to the pain, and were just making me sleep for an hour or so before I woke up in pain, needing more. They were taking me away from reality and allowing me to check out in an opiate haze.
I am incredibly weak and it doesn’t take much for me to overdo it. I got up around 1.30pm and tidied my room a little, so that the cleaner could clean, then had a shower and packed some things to take to Ioannis’. I will be staying at his mostly now. By the time I had done all of this, I felt like shit. I got into a cab just outside my flat and got over to Ioannis’. I felt so weak that I could barely put one foot in front of the other and stopped in his toilet to throw up. He then helped me up the stairs and I collapsed on his bed. I have got better as the day has gone on and now that I have had some food. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror last night and was shocked by how much weight I have lost. I hardly ate anything while I was in hospital. Ioannis cooked and brought me food each day but I had no appetite and just didn’t fancy it. I know that is partly why I am so weak. Ioannis is on a mission to get me fed.
Ioannis and I had some very difficult days while I was in hospital. I felt that he was being really snappy and angry at me and that there was a huge void between us. We had a lot of tears and I felt really helpless.
We had a really deep and meaningful chat today, now that I am lucid and in listening mode. I told him some stuff about my past and he told me some stuff about me, which is so true but not in my conscious awareness. My default, when I am scared is to shut down emotionally, to build a wall around myself and check out. I often do it by being engrossed with my phone on Facebook, email or Twitter. I build a wall around myself so that no one can get in. I make a decision about something and if that decision is not agreed with, I decide that you are not in my side and so I shut down, become really stubborn and get defensive. You can’t reason with me. I realise that I have done this all of my life and especially in relationships. When people get close to me, I get scared and shut down, making me impossible to be with. I am scared of being vulnerable. The story that I have been running my entire life is that I am independent, I have to do everything on my own and I don’t need anyone. I can’t trust or rely on anyone and that I am not loveable. This is the key to my healing. To let go of this story and all of the anger that I have built up by constantly running it and finding evidence to support it. I have been running away from myself by finding ways to numb reality. But the problem is that I take myself with me.
Sharing with you at this level of depth is something that I have never, ever done before. I have never opened up and shared my dark side and my fears and I hope that by doing this, I can help many others who feel complete shame about the ways that they have found to numb themselves. Shame is a powerful and destructive emotion. It needs secrecy to thrive. I have been reading Brene Brown’s work about shame and vulnerability and it resonated so strongly with me, I have read all of her books. She did an amazing TED talk called The Power of Vulnerability. She talks about all of the ways that we avoid ‘showing up’ and being our real, vulnerable selves.
I made a promise to Ioannis today that I would ‘show up’ and be present. That I would allow myself to be scared and talk to him. I shared all that I spoke about with Danielle yesterday. I am letting him in and allowing myself to lean in. This is a huge challenge for me. It’s a massive shift. I have been working on it for the past 18 months but I have such a long way to go. I have asked Ioannis to tell me when I have checked out and shut down. He is incredibly perceptive and knows when to have these conversations with me. He knows that when I am in that shut down state, there is no point in pushing it as it will lead to confrontation, so he waits until I am calm and open and then talks to me about it.
This is quite possibly the most I have ever shared about myself publicly, but it just feels right to be open and honest about my challenges.
I want to leave for this evening with an absolutely beautiful poem that Danielle wrote about me last night, which made me sob. She writes so beautifully and understands me so well. It will probably make most of you cry too.
With Love…. Hannah xx
I held her in my arms today as we looked death squarely in the eyes.
“I’m scared” she whispered.
Pale faced. Body trembling.
“I searched for him all my life.
He’s here now.
I don’t want to leave him.
Time distorted and elastic.
Minutes last an eternity.
Days merge into minutes.
Grief and love.
One temporary the other eternal.