3 weeks on..

So I’m sitting here  rather jealously watching my daughter and her friends splashing merrily in the paddling pool when the urge to write overcame me.

Today for the first time in about 15 years for 90% of the day I have managed to breath, and when I say breath what I mean is this .

My lungs are not filled with tar, nicotine or any of the 2000 chemicals every cigarette has, my breath has not been compromised by the cancer stick that I, only 3 weeks ago honestly believed I could not live without.

There have been many times I have given up, never for more than a week or 10 days  though before, the addiction inside me always won. I would tell myself that I would buy a packet (£10.70 a pack .. a pack a day … you do the maths ) only have one and then throw the packet away, looking back now I realise how  warped the thinking of an addict is, it was never one, because once those receptors in your brain are awakened they don’t go back to sleep, it is a repetitive cycle, the promising yourself that this would be the last one, the swearing to anyone who would listen that just one more , only one more . The ridiculous waste of money of buying a packet smoking one then depositing the rest of the packet in my neighbors letter box as I kid myself that I would never smoke again and he can have the rest.

Allan Carr’s teachings that you are not giving up at all, are so correct, giving up implies loosing something, having something of value taken away, while the word quitting can have positive connotations. When you quit smoking you only gain, as I am experiencing now, you gain breath, your skin becomes clearer, your mood is better and so much more.

The messages Smokers tell themselves, it helps relieve stress, it helps relax you etc are so false, it adds to our stress because as soon as we put one out we stress about when we can have the next one, so leaving that restaurant to light up in the freezing snow may feel like stress relief but only because we have been stressed about when we can smoke !

 

Sure I wake up in the morning and my first thought is still “ I need a smoke “ and there are times my family know to keep out my way because those smoking monsters and giving it one last go, rearing their ugly heads with the strength they have left trying to convince me just one more, but they eventually recede, they know they are loosing the battle.

Smoking addiction is known to be a harder addiction to get over then heroin, which I think is why so many of us believe we can do it, only to return to smoking after.

Having become rather ill a few weeks ago, which was NOT a result of smoking, my outlook on life has changed, this was not a conscious decision, I did not think to deeply about stopping smoking, but the reality of lying in my bed, unable to speak or move my leg seemed to have flicked a switch in my brain, giving me a terrifying glimpse of what can and probably would happen if I continued to smoke .

So my message to anyone out there thinking about quitting, don’t kid yourself that you will have just one more, don’t tell yourself that you will quit in a week or a month or sometime soon, we never know which cigarette will bring on that stroke , heart attack or even worse death.

Do it now.

All my love

sara

 

A Sudden full stop.

So there I was, sitting at my desk, comparing weekend notes with my college, usual chit chat, usual tutting about the filth on the floor, usual conversation about ” oh my isn’t it hot” and ” how long will it last, oh really another week at least, goodness me, and we are stuck here in the office ” kind of conversations when, everything came to a sudden and abrupt full stop.

My arm, which had till then been doing its thing, sitting quietly on my left side awaiting instruction started to ache, and when I say ache I mean, an incredible, all consuming, heavy pain, I began to feel overwhelmingly exhausted, dizzy and sick. Within 10 minutes I was on an ambulance, the lovely paramedic informing me, in a way that only someone who has delivered life changing news ( not happy news!) can that I was having a stroke.

I will never forget that ride to the hospital, the ambulance going so fast I thought I was going to fly out of it, the blue call he sent through to the hospital, meaning that when we arrived there was a team of Dr’s and nurses ready to greet me,  the pure terror I fel is hard to describe.

I have been lucky, this was caught so fast, on Monday I could not move my arm, could hardly speak, and could not move my leg at all, and now miraculously only 3 days on, my arm, although I have some weakness is pretty much doing its thing again, my leg on the other hand not so much, I have managed to do a kind of shuffle, shlep the leg dance, and get to the door of the ward and back, but it feels as though I have just climbed Everest and ran back down again, without stopping for breath, my speech is also getting there, I now sound like I have had only 10 or so teeth taken out instead of a mouthful, when i try to talk for to long it gets worse and every syllable is an effort, and it is my speech that is scaring me the most, as, if you know me personally, you will know I like to talk!! Speaking leaves me exhausted, and frustrated.

Lying in the ward I have had a lot of thinking time, when I picked up my Siddur ( prayer book)  this morning and I said the blessing “Blessed are you … who firms mans footsteps” I realised in all my 41 years I had never stopped to consider what that actually means!! Go ahead and try something now, lift up your leg.. done? how long did that take you? did you have to concentrate on sending messages to your leg, or did it just happen, now imagine I say lift up your leg, and as you go to do it nothing happens, not a twitch, your leg just stays as it is, you are now starting to strain, shouting at your leg to move… but nope, nothing, nada, zilch, it lies there, mockng you, refusing to move. For the first time in my life I appreciate my leg. I appreciate how incredable our bodies are.

When I open my mouth to talk and even though the words are tumbling through my brain, it is an extreme effort to say the word, I am appreciating the ability God has given us to form words and say them, we would live in a very angry world if it took everyone the amount of time it takes me to say a word.

Speech, what an incredible gift, what an amazing way of letting others know our needs and wants. Interestingly enough my husbands name is one of the hardest things I am finding  to pronounce.

I have learnt so much in the past few days.

1. It can happen! we smoke, over-eat, never excercise and say “na it wont happen to me” but it can and it will, and yup I am going to preach, take care of your body, it is so precious.

2, Every word that comes out of your mouth is a gift, use that gift wisely.

3. Think about where your feet are taking you, we are on earth to please God with our actions, but also God wants us to have a pleasurable life, use your legs to take you places and to do things that both you and God will find pleasure with.

4. In the last few months my extended family have seen over and over the kindness of community, I am experiencing that now, with messages, words of support, calls and texts and offers to help coming in to all my family and friends from everywhere, and I  am so touched and blessed to be a part of a wonderful community.

5. Questions, basically all I have to say is “shhhhhh” if you are not asking the question out of pure, unadulterated care, not just because you want to tell your neighbour or local friendly baker just how much you know don’t ask!!

6. Hospital beds …. SUCK!!

Night night, God bless, stay healthy.

Sara

 

 

 

 

 

 

The finish line in the distance…

Its been around 4 years since I met my therapist, living in a tight knit community it was important to me that my therapist have some idea of the life I had led and the intricacies of community life, luckily a friend happened to be a friend of the person who would become my support, my crutch and my advisor for the next approx. 4 years.

She has been the one I have turned to whilst in shock, she has been the person whom I have trusted to hold so much of my pain and hurt.

When choosing a therapist I would advise seeking someone who understands your background and your way of life, although it can cause complications, my therapist for example has family in my neighbourhood, we have friends in common and so on, this can cause issues with boundaries, and can cause the client to become to attached and lines can be crossed. There have been times where I knew she was aware of things happening within my family, for example when a family member went missing and she was receiving messages from the community to keep an eye out for him, or when I am aware of certain things going on in her family, but it can be a great source of comfort and can make the whole therapy journey easier.

Seeing her for so many years on a regular basis, pretty much every week, sometimes every other week,  I have grown to feel very close to her ( In a purely therapeutic way!), that is why what is coming up is so very hard, but so necessary. I think the longest I have gone without seeing her is around 2 months, and it was so very hard.

The aim I feel, of therapy is to get to a point where you can end it, where you can say, the work has been done, I may have times I need to come back, but now I have the tools and skills to do this without my therapist.

It can be, and usually is a very scary thought for anyone who has been in therapy for a while to feel that the journey is nearing its end, you have opened your heart and soul, have bared your deepest thoughts and feelings and trusted this person with things you would not share with anyone else.  The feeling of closeness a person has with their therapist is so complex, it is a one sided relationship in the sense that whilst you may know basic things about your therapist, you will never spend time socially with them, you can never give back emotionally to them and will never be a part of their lives. Yet I am sure, that most therapists, who have been seeing a client for many years will naturally feel a closeness to the client, and I have for so long clung to the hope that this is how my therapist views me, and when the time comes to part, maybe, just maybe she will miss me.

There are signs to look out for that can point you in the direction you need, for example, when a person is not feeling great, whether they have a mental health issue which is affecting them, or living through a stressful time, they may automatically think about their therapist more, may even obsess about the therapist, especially with issues such as  bi polar which often causes obsessive thinking. At such times it is probably best not to be considering ending therapy as the thoughts if not dealt with in the correct way can escalate quickly, but, if on such occasions you are able to live with the thoughts, think about them in a rational, non emotional way and let the thoughts pass, you are probably on the path to reduce or end therapy.

Feeling anger at your therapist is also a good pointer, recently I have felt some anger at her, which is oddly enough a good thing, it means you are able to view your therapist as a human, realise that they also make mistakes and are not some other worldly, angelic figure you may have spent years idolising.

Another sign to look out for is feeling that the world is not coming to an end if you do not see your therapist for a couple of weeks, that you will not be sending him/her message after message and that even though you may think about them, may even send the odd message, the thought is ok, the feeling is not one of desperation, of feeling you will not cope until the next time you see them.

I will not be seeing her this week, and I did not see her last week, the thought is worrying me, and yes I am already storing things up to tell her, but I know that I can do it, the Bi Polar part of me is stable, I have learned and have the tools to deal with any near episodes, and whilst I know that I am not yet ready to completely bid her farewell, its a great feeling knowing that I am slowly, very slowly getting there.

Please do not end therapy if you are not 100% sure you are ready, take it slowly, figure it out together, and know with certainty that you can do this.

“as mad as a hatter”

Those were the words a gentlemen used when describing a person with a mental health issue. To put it in to context, we recently joined a family we know for a meal, the subject turned to work, and on explaining that I work for a mental health charity and describing what we do, the conversation moved on to treatment and recovery, at which point  the gentlemen proclaimed ” who would want to marry someone who is as mad as a hatter”.

Those who know me will know that I do not hold back, if I am upset, angry, happy, surprised, nervous and so on it will pretty obvious, so for me not to answer his statement without literally leaving my chair, climbing across the table, knife in hand, snarling like a rabid dog was pretty impressive. Instead I tried to calmly explain that people ( like myself, except I did not tell him that as he would probably have started crying, terrified what the crazy lady at the table was capable of) who have mental health issues are in fact the same as every other person, that mental health issues, and physical health issues are cared for with medication, lifestyle and therapy, sadly though he could not grasp the concept and I do not believe he will ever change his views.

If I had the inclination or time this is what I would have told him.

People with Bi Polar do not, as a matter of course, drive planes in to mountains.

The chances of a person experiencing either a manic high or low hurting anyone else besides for themselves are nearly zero, we are more likely to self harm.

We live full, interesting and stable lives, just like anyone else.

You do not need to walk on eggshells around us, we will not collapse if you hurt our feelings.

A person with a mental health issue, can go years without a relapse or hospital admission.

Yes we may need to take medication, but hey, who doesn’t for one reason or another.

Because of our mental health issue, we are usually stronger and kinder people as we have seen and heard things a lot of people would not.

When we are unwell, we can appear to have super confidence ( when manic), talk very quickly, have illusions of grandeur, and put ourselves in extreme danger, as we are at our most vulnerable, we may loose sight of reality, this does not mean we are as mad as a hatter, it means we are unwell.

Please do not compare as a girl I was recently with did a person feeling low, or having a bad day to a person who is having a period of full blown depression or Bi Polar low, there is no comparison to make.

Do not say as an off hand remark “your so OCD” or even say it about yourself, you have no idea what it is to actually have OCD.

Its not ok to call people mental, it is the same as calling someone who has lost all their hair due to cancer baldy or something similar.

Realise you, or your family members can all develop a mental health issue, just like they can develop any other kind of illness.

Until people stop being afraid of us, until mental health can become a topic that no one is afraid to talk about, no one is “put of” by a persons mental health history nothing will change.

When someone has a physical illness people rush to assist, with meals, hospital visits, help with the children etc, it should be the same with mental illness, yes, it can be scary visiting a psychiatric ward, but as I know to well, the people there are suffering, afraid, and feel alone.

Finally, we are not mad, we are not crazy, we are you, we are us.

Lots of love

Sara

 

 

 

 

 

SPRING IS IN THE AIR.

Meaning its time to clean clean clean!

So I thought lets get some clever life hacks together to make the joy of cleaning even more joyous.

My aim is to get to 100… so sit back for a minute, let those net curtains that need to be cleaned stay right where they are and enjoy.

  1. Clean your toilet with Coke, it works!
  2. To clean your shower curtain stick it in the washing machine with a cap full of washing powder and a cap full of bleach and put on a very gentle wash.
  3. Clean the bath by using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar
  4. If you really must listen to something on your mobile whilst in the shower, put the phone in to a VERY dry sink…it makes a great amplifier.
  5. clean your showerhead by putting it in to a zip lock bag with distilled vinegar.
  6. To pick up glitter from …everywhere!! Use a lint roller lint
  7. A ball of tinfoil scrunched up tight acts as softener in the drying machine and picks up pieces of lint.
  8. To remove stems from strawberries use a straw.
  9. Wrap a wet paper towel around a bottle, stick it in the freezer for 15 minutes and it will be almost completely iced.
  10. For a refreshing ice drink, after filling up your water bottle half way put it down lengthways in the freezer, when it is frozen fill the rest with water and you will have an iced drink.
  11. To make a perfectly shaped fried egg, cut a large onion slice, ( so it is a round circle, put in to  your hot pan, and crack or pour the egg in to the middle of the onion ring.
  12. If you have lost your purse, put your notes in to a sanitary towel package! No one would think to look there.
  13. To prevent a pot boiling over, lay a wooden spoon across it.
  14. Put cupcake paper cases at the bottom of an ice-lolly so it catches the drips.
  15. For an inexpensive cookbook holder, use a skirt hanger, (hang it on a cupboard and use the clips to hold the pages open)
  16. Put pancake mix in to an empty ketchup bottle for a no mess experience.
  17. Use nail polish to identify keys
  18. If your wood is damaged, rub a walnut over it, the marks will disappear.
  19. If your car has seat warmers, and you have take out, turn on the seat warmer, it will keep it warm until you get home.
  20. To stop getting spam e mails, filter all messages by the word “unsubscribe” its a quicker and easier way to find those annoying messages.
  21. Take a picture of your fridge when it is full, and you have just done your shopping, a quicker and easier way to remember what to buy next time.
  22. For a fantastic I phone speaker, put the phone in to a large glass!
  23. Take out cups ( the plastic ones with the straw and lid) make fantastic paint pots.
  24. If you do not have a net bag to wash those hand wash items or fragile bits, put them in to a sports sock to wash.
  25. To make more space in the microwave, place one dish as usual, stick a mug next to it and place the next dish on top of the mug.
  26. When freezing minced meat, always flatten it out as much as possible before putting in the freezer, it will cut the thawing time by half.
  27. If you are trying to light a hard to reach wick, use a stick of spaghetti and light the wick with that.
  28. If you are low on work space, pull out a draw, place a chopping board on top of the open draw and you have more space.
  29. Here is a yummy one… almost finished that jar of Nutella? Put some ice cream in it, and enjoy!
  30. To easily separate eggs, crack the egg on to a plate, take a (empty !)plastic water bottle, and gently squeeze it over the yolk, release the pressure slowly it should suck up the yolk.
  31. Put old newspaper at the bottom of your dustbin to absorb food juices.
  32. To always find the end of sellotape easily stick an paper clip to the end.
  33. To save space inside your cupboards in the kitchen, mount towel racks on the indie of the opening to put lids on.
  34. Stick a sticky back picture hook on to your bins, when the bag starts moving wrap the end around the hook.
  35. Use unscented floss to cut cakes and other solids perfectly.
  36. To reduce wrinkles in a shirt quickly, turn on the stove and let it steam, hang the shirt over (at a safe distance!) the stove.
  37. If your shirt collar is creased, use hair straighteners.
  38. Apply chap- stick to paper cuts and hey presto they are gone.
  39. The above applies to shaving nicks to.
  40. Extend the life of batteries but putting them in the fridge one day before using.
  41. For a home made air conditioner point your fan at a few frozen water bottles, with about 2-3 Tablespoons of salt in each bottle. Refreeze the bottles at the end of each day.
  42. While playing games on your mobile, if you are fed up of getting ads, put your phone in to Air-plane mode.
  43. For emergency lights, put crayons in to a glass cup or plate and light, they will burn for hours.
  44. To break in or stretch tight shoes put on thick socks, put on the shoes and go over the tight spots with a hair dryer for a few minutes.
  45. Place a cup of water in the microwave with pizza and it will stop it getting hard.
  46. When reheating food in the microwave, always leave a space circle in the middle of the food it will heat up much faster.
  47. Put a paper towel in your bowl of lettuce to keep it fresh all week.
  48. To keep your potatoes from sprouting, put an apple inside on the top of the bag.
  49. Put a cut avocado in an airtight container, with a piece of cut onion to keep it fresh for far longer.
  50. You can use AAA batteries instead of AA if you don’t have any, simple fill the gap on the positive side with a small wad of foil.
  51. If you spill red wine, use white wine to get rid of it.
  52. Use laundry baskets in the boot of the car to keep all those bags and bits in.
  53. If you have no where to put the wooden spoon or other utensil when cooking, put it in the hole at the end of the pots handle.
  54. When travelling to a place where you do not know the language, take pictures of places before you go for an easy way of asking directions, or even simple things like the toilet!
  55. Use paper clips to organise cables.
  56. Never leave your phone charging overnight plugged in to a socket as this can cause a house fire, instead, use a battery bar.
  57. Use a tin opener to open those new packets which are impossible to open.
  58. Roll jumpers in the cupboard instead of folding, making ease of access and no messy wardrobes.
  59. Add dabs of glue to hangers, ( let them dry!) to avoid clothes slipping off them.
  60. When painting put a rubber band around the open tin, then use it to wipe the paint off the brush, to avoid spills and drips.
  61. If you borrow something, take a picture of that person holding it, that way you will always remember who you borrowed it from.
  62. Use a banana hair clip to organise wires.
  63. Use toothpaste to clean dirty head lights in the car.
  64. Cut open empty toilet paper rolls and use them as a cuff for your wrapping paper rolls.
  65. Chew gum to avoid tears when cutting an onion.
  66. Or.. wear goggles!
  67. Use a muffin tin to serve dips at a bbq
  68. Use a clothes peg to hold a nail whilst hammering it in to the wall.
  69. Use the tabs from cans of drink to create another layer of hanger space, simply pop one end over the hanger, and use the lower bit to put in another hanger.
  70. WD-40 lifts ink stains.
  71. Stuff dryer sheets in to smelly shoes overnight to get rid of the smell.
  72. Applying clear nail polish will stop a ladder in tights spreading.
  73. The next time you have a sore throat, try eating marshmellows!!
  74. If you are having trouble lifting any kind of sticky tape etc from a surface, heat it with a hairdryer for a couple of minutes.
  75. If you have smelly breath… eat some Parsley! it neutralises breath!
  76. A frozen, soaked sponge makes a great non drip ice pack.
  77. T shirt wrinkled? throw it in the dryer with a few ice cubes or damp towels for 5 minutes.
  78. Pour made coffee in to a ice cube tray for fantastic ice coffee.
  79. Phone running out of battery? put it on Airplane mode whilst charging, it will charge double as quick.
  80. Clean your keyboard by sliding a piece of tape between the rows.
  81. When shaving, line the sink with newspaper to catch all the hairs.
  82. If buttons on clothing are loose, dab a bit of clear nail polish on the threads around them to make them rock hard.
  83. Apples help with bad breath.
  84. Use duct tape to open stubborn jars, fix a long piece around the lid and then pull on the tape.
  85. Keep hair grips in old tic tac jars.
  86. To put a new key ring on your on your existing ones, use a stapler remover to hold the pieces open.
  87. Prevent tangles necklaces, by threading the chain through a straw.
  88. If you keep loosing one earring, using a button put the pairs together through the button holes.
  89. Use a giant paper clip to help close bracelets on your wrist.
  90. Use an emery board to gently remove scuff marks from suede shoes.
  91. Use old shower curtain rings on a hanger to create a scarf holder.
  92. Wrap fragile items in a sock when storing or moving to prevent any damage.
  93. Use dryer sheets to clean skirting and floors, they help repel dust.
  94. Keep your tulips standing straight by putting their stem in a straw before placing them in the vase.
  95. Use cooking spray to keep door hinges squeak free.
  96. Store plastic bags in empty tissue boxes.
  97. Protect china plates and fine dinnerware from scratches when storing by placing a cheap paper plate between each one.
  98. Add a penny and a bit of sugar to your flowers in a vase to keep your flowers fresher and looking great for longer.
  99. Use empty pill bottles for storing loose change.
  100. KEEP CALM… IT WILL GET DONE, PUT ON MUSIC, HAVE A DANCE WITH THE BROOM, AND ENJOY.

Thank you to ALL the many, many websites I used to create this list.

Print it, hang it, use it.

Love

 

Sara

 

To Much MM?

Purim, in contrast to a lot of the other Chagim is meant to be relatively cheap… by cheap I mean you don’t have the following conversation with your spouse, “Its coming up to Pesach/Rosh Hashana/Sukkot…. its time to a. re-mortgage, b. get a new credit card or c. sell all our non existent silver”.

Sadly though  it has become pretty much the same expense as any other Chag.  Even without buying costumes, costumes which need to get more creative, outstanding, better then anyone else in the community. When I was young, my mother would create from any material brilliant costumes, we all had a theme and we enjoyed wearing them.  Now, my mother obviously knew, unlike most people my age and younger what to do with a needle and thread, darning socks was actually still a thing then! Now though I have heard of people ordering Sari’s from India, Chinese gowns from china, American footballer costumes… yes you have guessed it from America. In fact I am sure that some people hop over to the country in question for a day to ensure their kinderlach get the best costume in town.

Reading a thread about Mishloach Manot ( from now on to be called MM) ideas, I was amazed how creative people can get, coming up with themes that were out of this world, to fit any kind of costume. Cholent themed MM with beans, rocket launcher sweets and heartburn pills was one of my favourites.  As is the old favourite of pop corn in red and white buckets for Where’s Wally costumes ( which we are doing this year…but shhhh don’t tell) Breakfast themes etc. Happily going through the thread, OOO’ing and UHHHH’ing in delight at the ideas, I came across a very judgy, holier than thou post, telling us all how we are a disgrace to be using money to make such a worthless idea as giving MM a big deal, how our brothers and sisters in Israel struggle to make ends meet, how instead of giving MM we should be sending money to our children as a down payment on a flat, ( ok lets get real, even if a person spends an extraordinary amount, lets say £500 on MM… really a down payment??) how we should be giving all the money spent to Tzedokah, and on and on.

My first reaction was one of amusement, my second was bewilderment. the replies to this lady were from anger, to hysteria. Everyone proclaiming that it was their choice how much to spend, that yes they gave the amount and more of the cost of what they had spent on their MM to charity, and so on.

My brother in law’s dream is for everyone to go back to the “good old days” where MM consisted of ( you know what I am going to say before I say it) a paper plate with a carton of juice and a tangerine on it. Thankfully, for his wife and children sake (oh the embarrassment )he does not follow through on his dream MM.

There are many women who create beautiful MM and love doing it, going to stores such as homesense, or thrift stores, their imaginations running wild, the joy their children experience when filling up the amazing jars, ( its got to be a matter of one sweet for the jar one for you) makes this Chag even more special than it already is for our kids.

As a parent Purim can become the worst, most stressful day, thank G-d we are allowed to drink away the stress on this day, I think that the whole idea of Misha Nichas Adar Besimcha, which means the month of Adar should be celebrated with joy, is really just another way of saying ” you will be stressed today… go ahead DRINK!” driving takes on a whole new reality, getting from my home  across the street can take the most part of a day, navigating between the swarms of children thrusting buckets in my face, screaming at me ( even though I am literally a cm away from them) why, that last penny, that last crumpled up charity voucher, should be their’s is something every Jew in every Jewish community will experience on Purim.

Driving down the road, without the engine on, there is no point as I am not getting anywhere at any pace, my daughter screams in delight (or sometimes terror) each time she sees a minion, monkey, bunny, fairy, dancer, police officer, arab, indian, nun, pope, mr men costume, where’s wally, cowboy, cowgirl, fireman, (you get the idea) whilst we sit drumming the wheel, fixed/manic smiles on our faces, while looking at the list, seeing that we still have to get to her best friend of the day the other side of town, and taking yet another swig of that alcohol that YES we are actually allowed to drink that day (passengers only of course!)

My thoughts and sympathies go out to any clueless person who happens to be driving through a Jewish area on Purim, my advice to you is…. DONT, and if you do my prayers are with you friend.

All in all Purim is not the inexpensive, stress free day we remember from our childhood. The issue with overdoing MM is a huge one, no I do not agree with sending MM which cost £100 each, or even £50 or even £20 each, I do not think sending someone a showcase of whisky as picture above is Tzniut, I believe MM can be beautiful, and the education we give to our children should be about giving those who need, those who may not get from anyone else, those who will be happy, even with the tangerine on a paper plate ( though your children may disown you).

If a person wishes to express gratitude to someone and chooses Purim to send a nice gift, go ahead, but the gift should be done with thought of how it comes across to others, is it to show off or have you thought about what that person would feel happy to receive?

We are meant to give Tzedokah on the day of Purim, so maybe we can match what we spend on our MM?

I spoke to a friend in Israel last night who mentioned that each of her children only give one MM each to their friends, I admire and respect the education she is giving her children, and was ashamed to say that after a lot ( I’m talking calling in the mediators and lawyers ) of negotiating with my daughter we have settled on 13 ( but just to make myself feel better that does include to many cousins and neighbours to count ).

As I think about Purim, I realise that for adults the day can be stressful, the forced happiness, the noise etc, but then as I think back to my Purim memories of my fathers students filling up the house, the noise and happiness it reminds me that for children Purim is a day they will always treasure.

So enjoy, have fun …. most of all be safe!

 

 

MY FATHER, MY TEACHER

It is coming up to 10 years since my father left us, after a long, difficult battle.

Approximately 7 years before his death he suffered a massive brain haemorrhage leading to him becoming paralysed on one side of his body, he speech was affected as was his brain, he struggled to walk and often would get frustrated after taking a few steps. Before his haemorrhage my father was a teacher, a public speaker and well-known in our community and beyond. He was head of Jewish Studies at the school I went to and was much-loved by his students.

After suffering the haemorrhage he became almost “child like” in some ways, he would easily cry, his concentration levels plummeted and he would become angry and frustrated easily. Yet even after his stroke his belief in God never failed, I remember him saying that everything God does he does with kindess, my father may have lost the use of his arms and partly of his legs, but to my father as a teacher, communication was everything and he thanked God for lettig him keep his speech.

My Mother is a strong power house, she dedicated all those years solely to my father, there were times he would direct his frustration at her, which is natural as she was the closest one to him.  She would be the one to pick up the pieces when his carer did not arrive in the morning to wash my father, or in the evening to ready him for bed, she could not just decide to go out, she carefully had to arranged her life around my fathers needs, which were immense.

Often Brain Haemorrhage is confused with a stroke but there are differences, A stroke happens when there is some disruption in the level of blood that goes to a person’s brain, causing the brain to be starved of oxygen and nutrients, as a result the cells in the brain die. Haemorrhage happens when an artery in the brain bursts causing internal bleeding as a result of this the brain cells cease to function.

Both though have similarities, they both happen very quickly with little warning,  sharp headache will come on abruptly, a sensation of numbness or tingling on only one side of the body will happen during a stroke, whilst a haemorrhage will have feelings on numbness in one or both of the arms and legs, both will have feelings of weakness in the arms or legs, memory loss, vision loss, confusion, feeling dizzy and nauseous and more.

High blood pressure, smoking, family history and age are all factors that could lead to both haemorrhage and stroke.

I have heard that after we lose someone dear to us, the persons voice is the first thing that starts to fade from our memory, thankfully my father’s voice is still clear to me.

My family life changed after my father’s illness, some of  my siblings living abroad returned to England. My Mothers home became a hub of carers, occupational therapists, and adapting of the bathrooms and bedroom to accommodate my fathers needs.

My father taught me, both in the physical sense and the emotional/spiritual sense, he taught me patience, he taught me how to care, he taught me love.  When I look back to my childhood, the family holidays we had are the memories that I treasure, he was a strong tall man, whom during the year worked so hard, our holidays were his escape, the place he could completely unwind, I remember so clearly his joy at pulling us kids along in the rubber dingy in the sea, every single holiday pronouncing that next year he would be buying a “real” boat. Yet even during those holidays we would inevitably meet people who would be delighted to meet him.

In Judaism, after a family member passes away we sit “shiva”, this is a mourning period of 7 days where people come to the house to pay their condolences, share stories, laugh and cry, it is an amazing process which can bring a lot of healing, during the week of Shiva, we learnt so much about my father, pupils whom he had taught many years ago came and shared with us stories of how my father changed their lives for the better, he had a knack at figuring just how to relate to his students, whom he fondly called “ladies”.

My family all knew how dedicated he was as a teacher, but we, in that week saw him through the eyes of those he had helped, I have in my home a folder with over 100 letters we received from friends and past pupils full of antidotes about him.

He was a man able to connect to anyone, no matter who they were and what age. He was a leader in our synagogue, so much so that on one of the Jewish holidays, the whole synagogue danced around his wheelchair as he was pushed all the way home.

I know, that when I tell people who my father was, they will light up as they talk about him. He was more than a man, more then a father, more than a teacher.

After his Haemorrhage I tried to spend time reading to him, though the experience was heart breaking each time, knowing I was reading to the man who was a giant I gained so much from it, and I will never forget the time we spent together.

If you are still lucky enough to have a father, treasure, respect and love him.

 

The loneliness Minister. Tragedy or necessity ?

Big news today, Tracey Crouch was appointed as Loneliness minister.

Her job? To tackle an issue facing around nine million people in the U K , both young and old.

Look back to the 1950’s would there have been a need for a minister, appointed by the Prime Minister specially to tackle loneliness? Not that I remember….but look at any pictures of those days, or even better watch Call the Midwife and we see neighbours hanging out washing together, we see children playing in the streets , we see Dr’s doing house calls, we see the milkman knowing the life story of his customers, we see community. Obviously life in the 50’s was not perfect, poverty was the norm, but then, pretty much everyone in the community was poor so you did not feel different.

How have we gone from a nation of people who would notice if they did not see their neighbour for a day or two, to a nation where a people do not leave their house for weeks on end and no one notices?

The BBC writes today ” A 2017 report said loneliness was as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” ” An estimated half of people aged 75 and over live alone – about two million people across England – with many saying they can go days, even weeks, with no social interaction at all.”

Loneliness amongst the elderly has been an ongoing issue, which I think people in general are aware of, and slowly more is being done, the spare chair Sunday initiative launched in 2015 encouraged people to open their home to an elderly guest and invite them for a warm and delicious lunch. There are many more befriending agencies then in the past but sadly there is still a long way to go, with library’s and social clubs closing due to lack of funding, children moving further and further away from their parents home, friends and partners passing away, and inability to access transport needs the elderly are finding themselves more isolated then ever before. last year, Charity WRVS warned that more then 360,000 older people felt lonely because their children were too far away and too busy to see them.

It just takes a minute, knock on the door of an elderly neighbour and ask if they are ok.

I wanted to write about loneliness in younger people. research by the Mental Health Foundation found that social media is fuelling isolation among young people. From personal experience, using Wats App has affected my social interaction in a huge way, my husband often gets exasperated when I have a whole conversation through voice message rather than picking up the phone and talking to someone.  Facebook is a world of likes and dislikes, to the extent that a young person putting up messages that she is about to commit suicide will get liked, rather then anyone actually connecting with her and having a conversation.

At every age a person can get lonely, we may be an aging population but we are also getting more and more alone, we need not go the shops, they will come to us, we need not talk to anyone, we need not leave our home.

A young mother for example, staying home with her baby, unable to go out for long due to her babies needs can find her mental health deteriorating at an alarming rate, the need to put on a smile, paint the mask of being a capable, in control parent when going out due to fear of being judged as not coping will become more and more isolated, whilst her single friends are out, working, socialising she is alone.

A stay at home or single dad may find that any groups he does want to go to are overrun with women and feels isolated.

So what to do?

For some people, opening the curtains in the morning is the first step, and a massively positive first step.  taking that scary first step can lead to more and more baby steps, to feel the fear and do it anyway, to give yourself a pat on the back for the smallest of things, can slowly bring about a positive change.

I have heard of people adopting a dog or cat, animals can bring comfort beyond measure.

whatever a person is interested there is something that they can get involved with, for example I love writing, doing a quick search in my area for creative writing groups I am directed to a local café holding open mic nights, and writing and sharing groups. If biking is your thing, there are cycling groups in most areas. interested in Art? do a search of groups in your area.

Volunteering is an amazing way to feel less alone, volunteers are an integral part of the Charity I work at.  There are so many different ways to volunteer that can change a persons life for the better drastically.

Community, though community can at times be suffocating being involved in your community can help combat loneliness. Your local synagogue, church etc. may be able to provide opportunities for you. Another aspect of community is right there in your street, it takes courage to knock on a door of a stranger, but you never know, the person behind the door next to you may be lonely to, they may be hoping that you will take the step and knock on their door.

One last thing, through any kind of group, workshop or volunteering opportunity make a friend, even if it is only one friend, that is all you need for the times when the desperation to have human contact is at its biggest. A friend can bring so much to a persons life.

All the above can sound like a mountain to someone who is alone and afraid, but take the one step, open the curtains, google a group, knock on the door, and every step you take however tiny give yourself credit, you deserve it.

lots of love

Sara

The roundabout

Yup 2 posts in one night , but as the picture above so aptly states sometimes you just have to write it down.

Ear worm , a word I recently heard describes those times when you have that song stuck in your head and it goes round and round and round … replacing it with another song is usually the only way to get it out of your head.

Now imagine that it was not a song but thoughts of that off hand remark someone said, or something you said , or your health, or whether or not your husband loves you.

There are many studies which give a direct connection with obsessive thinking and Bi Polar . It’s an accepted fact in the mental health world that People with Bi Polar will often obsess about anything and everything.

Some examples, my husband doesn’t answer his phone when I know he is on his lunch hour, the thoughts begin, is he with a female colleague, is he having an affair , by the time he calls me back 10 minutes later my mind is already throwing his clothes out the door, convinced he is having an affair.

Having obsessive thinking with Bi Polar is like being on a constant daily roundabout. It’s not a matter of  will I obsess about something, but more a matter of what today’s obsession will be.

Often it is harmless, getting the house in perfect order, being the best I can be at work, making the perfect meal .

Mainly though it is not healthy. For example today. A few weeks ago someone said a harmless comment to me, it was a comment meant to help me, it was during a conversation in which she was guiding and supporting me, but because of my Bi Polar and because of my obsessive thinking it was all I could think of today and for quite a few days.

The obsessive thinking will lead you in a direction that you have little or no control over, googling the person , bringing them up in conversation etc.

It can affect your daily life, it is exhausting.

I am used to being told I am ” over sensitive ” a word which I have come to hate … I do not think anyone can be over sensitive, everyone has their own fragility, everyone is insecure about something and we don’t know if the comment made can touch that person deeply , for the good or bad.

I know I am having a good Bi Polar day when thoughts flow seamlessly from one to the other, obsessions only last for a little while and they can be replaced.

Today is a bad Bi Polar day, where an obsession about someone has stayed with me for to long.

Whilst having these obsessions all other clear thinking goes out the window, you are unable to concentrate on anything.

So how do people who have bi Polar related obsessive thinking get off the roundabout ? How when it is turning faster and faster, when your brain is completely overrun with the one thought do you stop, do you shout ” I want to get off “!

For a lot of people quiet time works ,lying still , with relaxing music on, just listening to your breathing . This has been the go to for a lot of people.

For me lying still is not an option, if I were lying still the roundabout would go faster and faster.

With my form of this thinking I need to firstly if I am able to talk to the person or write … and I have now done both.

 

Deep breath… relax …

 

 

 

 

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