Dealing with Responsibilities During Grey Times

A theme of the past few weeks has been me feeling a bit down. Indeed, my last blog was about the possibility of having ‘Post Holiday Blues’ – read it here. I am not as low as I have been in the past but I am a bit down. In my mind, there can be no doubt that this is linked to the grey times we are living through.

Grey as in autumnal grey

Days are shorter and lack sunshine. You can have a whole day where you don’t see any sunlight. And, obviously, it’s getting colder. Plus we’ve had so much rain recently. So perhaps there is a bit of SAD going on.

But also grey as in life generally feels uncertain bordering on bleak: Gaza, Ukraine, Putin, Taiwan, Trump, Sunak, Cameron. There’s not much to be hopeful and optimistic about. Although I am taking action and boycotting ‘I’m A Celebrity’ in protest at them normalising Nigel Farage and paying him £1.5m.

Autumnal years

Meanwhile, life goes on and has to be lived. It’s been a week where I’ve spent a lot of time with mum particularly dealing with medical stuff. A key feature of the lives of so many people my age is looking after their parents and other older people. We do it out of love and duty. I am very mindful that one day mine and Dave’s hair will be totally grey (if it’s not all gone by then) and I am not sure who will be around to look after the one who is left behind.

Autumnal trees and leaves

  • Details on grey, dreary times and how I’m trying to get through them
  • More health appointments to be attended with mum
  • Ways to escape from the greyness: reviews of 2 books one of which is excellent, and surrounding myself in art and culture

Swim: Always appreciated once completed

Gym remained closed so I did a couple of swims. There’s something grim about swimming during the grey autumn / winter period where everything feels wet and cold anyway. However, as with all exercise, you never regret it after you’ve finished – unless you break a bone LOL. 22 lengths of alternating front-crawl and back-stroke done on Tues and Fri. Plus good news in that my feared ear infection hasn’t materialised.

The jump

Injury: Another physio visit

Back to see the physio on Monday about my Achilles / ankle injury. The one I was due to see wasn’t there so it was a new younger chap and I had to share the session with another patient. But the new physio handled us both well and I am very happy to see him again in a few weeks. I got a new set of exercises and hopefully they will speed up a healing process that I can feel is underway albeit very slowly.

The battle to stop diabetes

I have had a series of blood glucose readings suggesting I am becoming borderline diabetic. So I’ve been enrolled in a course by my GP to try to combat this. It basically means downloading an app and being bombarded with videos, texts, and emails. I’m not stupid and I know that the key things I need to do is lose more weight; eat more fruit and veg; and reduce my ‘bad’ carbohydrate intake. Will this stick? Only time will tell.

Blood, glucose, diabetes

Weight: Turning the corner but not in a good way?

Linked to this diabetes risk, I’ve been pleased to have lost weight in the last year and be physically active. The latter took a hit with my injury but hopefully this is temporary. However, I put on a wee bit more weight last week. I’ve started to get a bit cavalier with what I eat assuming my weight loss is permanent. But it may not be and I think I need to start watching what I eat again as well as have some periods of hunger.

man weighing himself

Mum: Tiring medical appointments

My main caring responsibility is to mum though me and Dave also happily keep an eye on our friend Patrick who we met for coffee twice last week. Meanwhile, two medical type appointments with mum.

First, took her for a eye test on Wednesday. Necessary due to her needing new glasses after the cataract operation. Took about an hour with various tests and the end result was no need for long vision glasses but a new prescription for reading glasses. Really pleased about the latter as it should help her keep up the reading she enjoys so much.

Second, next morning we were to the hospital for a rheumatology appointment. Much nicer hospital than the one for her eyes but two bus journeys away so we took an Uber there and back. Saw the doctor then had to wait about an hour for bloods to be done. End result is guidance for mum’s GP to medicate her condition that should keep her pain under control.

A successful week but these appointments wear out both me and mum.

Tired man asleep or despondent

Dave: Busy, busy, busy

That’s my poor Dave at the moment. I need to give him space and be patient. We did manage to get out for a drink together on Saturday evening (before new Dr Who – this always makes life better). But didn’t make time for dinner together like the week before – bit of a miss I think. He went out on Sunday afternoon so I treated myself to the first mulled wine of the year at the local trendy cinema.

‘In Memoriam’ by Alice Winn: A wonderful book

Great literature is one of the tools we have to help us get through grey times. Nothing better than losing yourself in a wonderful novel as well as being exposed to new ideas, characters, and the struggles others are going through.

‘In Memoriam’ is a book published this year that has received lots of recommendations. It follows a well-worn path taking us through the horror of World War One. But it is so easy to forget the senseless slaughter of young men that took place. As is happening in parts of Ukraine now albeit WWI was on another scale. Millions of men stuck dying in mud-filled trenches with their only escape to be pushed over the top into the path of machine gun bullets.

This book explains to us in horrifying details what life was like in the trenches and the mass slaughter of teenagers that happened. But it is also built around the story of young men at private school and in particular two who are in love with each other. There’s a real twist in the story which counter-acts the element of imperial ‘boys own’ that dominated much of European thinking at that time.

This really is a glorious book. The sense of sadness it pervades is monumental particularly with the various obituaries of golden lives cut desperately short. And the characters are beautifully created to the point where I can’t believe they weren’t real. I am not sure homosexuality was ever as accepted as parts of this book would indicate. But it does show how all long-term relationships are like great journeys.

WWI painting - blinded soldiers

‘The Future Future’ by Adam Thirlwell: Hard work

If ‘In Memoriam’ was maginficent, sad, and perhaps even up-lifting then ‘The Future Future’ was not. I never give up on a book, always taking the view that it may come good in the end no matter how grey and bleak it may feel. This is one of those novels that I can honestly say made no difference to my life and I wish the time it had taken to be read could be re-used to read another book.

Head in hands

Thirlwell is a trendy British writer and this book has achieved some buzz. It’s also could be termed experimental and counter-cultural. Ostensibly set in the late eighteenth century, the timings are vague and elements out of the time period are randomly thrown in like people having cigarettes. Indeed, at one point our ‘heroine’ flies to the moon in the future before coming back to meet Napoleon.

The style is what might be termed ‘primitivism’. Things happen and characters are listed but there is no real development of them and analysis is almost non-existent. The main character has amazing experiences and contemporary travels that would have been almost certainly unrealistic (even omitting going to the moon). And modern day on-trend elements are chucked around about nature, sexuality, colonialism, and language.

I’m really not sure why people liked this book so much. Perhaps it needs to sit with me for a while before I can appreciate it.

Surrounding ourselves with comfort and hope

One of the main ways I think will help me get through these grey and dreary times is by spending more time immersed in art. It’s that thing about the place we are in physically and mentally making life better. And I put this into action last week by spending some time at both Tate Britain and the V&A.

Both times found a spot that I felt comfortable in and did some reading. Don’t think it’s an osmotic transfer of the intellectual and creative brilliance of the stuff surrounding me. Rather there is that thing about being in a space that just gives a sense of calm and inspiration. An idea that there is something better than these grey times and that things will get better.

Painting

QPR: More bad news

A 1-0 defeat at Norwich; is the new manager’s inspiration already fading away? Meanwhile, the death of Terry Venables. One of QPR’s greatest managers and a key personality who ran through the story of my life.

A recommended article

There are tons of articles out there preaching about PD. I have found one that made a big impression on me. I think it’s worth coming back to on a regular basis to check out how life is going. Let me know what you think: ‘Fast Forward: 5 Power Principles to Create the Life You Want in Just One Year’ – read it here or here.

  • Gotta deal with this greyness as it ain’t going away. But it won’t last forever and that is the thing to hold onto
  • Big fingers crossed that my gym reopens and that will help lift my mood. Perfect scenario is 3 gym sessions, 1 swim, and as many long walks as my ankle / Achilles injury allows.
  • Dave’s got his most stressful period of the year coming up so time for me to give him plenty of space. Am staying in on Tuesday at his flat to make sure a repair gets done.
  • Started to read a good non-fiction book ‘Winters in the World. A Journey Through the Anglo-Saxon Year’ – good to help to connect with changing seasons. Also will (thankfully) start new book on kindle after finishing ‘The Future Future’.
  • Got meets with two old friends: Dom on Mon evening and Phyllis on Fri lunchtime
  • Hopefully continue the trend of spending time in artistic and cultural spaces

Remember, whenever things feel bleak that you are a long time dead

Stunning half naked man - how could you not smile?

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