Light at the End of the Tunnel

Tunnel, where is the light

It is sometimes hard to see light at the end of the tunnel when you are stuck in a long dark tunnel.
Perhaps it wasn’t so dark when you went in, or maybe you didn’t realize it was so long. But now you are stuck.

You can see no light at either end.


Don’t turn around, or you will lose your sense of direction. If you sit down to try and work it out, you might end up going the wrong way.

Have you ever felt like that?

Most of us have.

What is your tunnel?

  • Toxic work situation?
  • Betrayed by a friend… your partner?
  • Lost your job?
  • Had bad news about your health?
  • Or did you go chasing after something you thought better than you have now, only to find is was an illusion.

Whatever the reason, you are stuck in a tunnel.

The reaction to any one of these, and myriads of other causes, is the key to your way out of the tunnel.

Do you feel disconnected?

disconnected in the tunnel of isolation

Sadly, we live in a world where everyone seems to be so busy, but is their busy-ness their way to escape their feelings of hurt, anger, or sadness?

It is a common way to cope… keep yourself so busy you don’t have time to think about your situation. However, at the end of the day, it is difficult to hide from your feelings.

What do you do?

  • Get drunk
  • Have an argument with someone
  • Feel worthless.

You might be surprised…

If you knew how many people are suffering the same feelings of disconnection, loneliness or despair.

Perhaps it is time to ‘own your feelings.’ Identify the main cause you are stuck in a tunnel with no idea which way is forward.

Constantly trying to run from your emotions is exhausting and counter-productive.

People (or a person) may have hurt you, but your reaction to that hurt is your feeling.
Identify that, allow yourself to feel the emotion.
Are you able to tell a person who hurt you what you experienced… without blaming him or her?
Are you able to tell an employer the effect the atmosphere at work is having on you?

Is there a pinprick of light in your tunnel?

If it you discovered your friend was feeling what you are feeling, how would you respond?

Compassionately?

If so, do you not deserve the same treatment?

Respond to your own feelings in the same way you would a loved one who was sad or struggling.

Reactions are our responsibility.

If we do not stop to ‘own’ that, we will continue to blame others for our reactions and run from one tunnel to another.

If a spouse or child has died – it is okay to feel the loss. Know that over time the loss will still be there, but it will change and become bearable.

If your work situation is having an effect on your health and you can do nothing to change it… look for another job. (But don’t complain in an interview for a new job about the one you are leaving.)

If you are diagnosed with a serious, or terminal illness, yes, grief what you are losing, then make the best of the time, or abilities you still have.

Why spoil the present by dwelling on things from the past or fears about the future?

smell the roses image

A long time ago someone said to me, “Stop and smell the roses.”

It can be a challenge to step back from your feelings but it is good for your health.

“Refrain from anger and abandon wrath; do not fret—it can only bring harm.”
Psalm 37: 8 Berean Study Bible

Susan

One Plate in the Dishrack

parched ground, loneliness

One plate in the dishrack, one fork, one knife, no spoon. “I never have been a dessert-eater.

On special occasions I will have a chocolate ice-cream on a stick. There is little point making dessert for one.”

This is reality for many widows or widowers who only have themselves to cater for.

Some single people choose to live alone

Chocolate ice cream on a stick
one plate in the dishrack

The key – a matter of choice.

If a person chooses to live alone, either they are totally content with their own company, or have support networks outside the home environment.

For widows, widowers, or people who have been abandoned by their spouse/partner it is not necessarily a matter of choice. For them…

One plate in a dishrack is a reminder of their loneliness.

one plate blog, forgotten

I did a great deal of reading on this subject before starting this post… that, and personal experience as well as the experience of other folks in my position.

One person said, “I feel that I am the loneliest person in the world.”

Someone else might compete for that title.

There are many groups on Facebook, I belong to some writer groups where I can ‘meet’ with peers because there few authors where I live, and even fewer in my genre, so it is fun to be part of a group, even if it is online. But there are other groups, and occasionally something will appear from one of those other groups. The image beside this was from a group called Gramma’s Giggles and Fun.]

Feeling forgotten is the ‘killer’ of enthusiasm in so many people.

One plate on a table is a person alone.

It might only be for one meal. It might not be. If the one plate is all a person has day in day out, week after week, month after month, year after year, that the person would be correct in questioning if they have been forgotten.

A person living alone through no choice of their own is missing one incredibly important thing – encouragement. It’s true we all need it – the busy mother who feels taken for granted, the many workers or carers who rarely hear a word of thanks, or appreciation. A person living alone has no one to give encouragement. Perhaps there used to be a spouse who appreciated the other. Now, there is no one.

Statistics I read say that people who are lonely, particularly seniors, are more vulnerable to chronic illnesses, depression and conditions leading to early death. (It didn’t mention suicide, but I suppose that could be a possibility.)

Something else it did not mention but which I think is a danger… being ‘conned.’

Something else it did not mention but which I think is a danger… being ‘conned.’

Statistics graph

Frequently on the evening news or on current affairs programmes are reports of how many people have fallen for some ‘con’ (scam) and have lost thousands of dollars. One could wonder how the person was so easily fooled. Perhaps they were a ‘one plate in a dishrack’ person. As well as needing encouragement a person without emotional support, without visitors needs to feel useful. The ‘one plate person’ might have raised a family, might have had an important job – or at least a busy one, perhaps they now feel redundant and are thus more vulnerable to being scammed.

hook imageNearly all the scams I have seen reported as having victims  where I live involve someone saying they need help – for themselves or a family member. A huge carrot to someone who needs to feel needed, feel useful,  to help someone.. And they are hooked!

The suggestion is often given to join a club (a bit of a threat to an introvert), or to volunteer. Many older people do. But what if the ‘one plate person’ already has a chronic illness, no transport, or difficulty walking? Perhaps they are on the low government pension and have no money to go out to activities.

Worst case scenario – no longer a one plate person, but a recluse.

It does happen.

A few hints to help the one plate person

  • If visiting is not possible – send a card.
  • If they are on the Internet, and many seniors are these days – a short email saying you are thinking of them/ hope they are well.
  • Suggest they write down a memory to share with a grandchild, or to share with a class of young children. Who knows, it could end up being a memory a week or a day and help youngsters understand the past.

The popularity of TV shows like Downton Abbey, and Call the Midwife demonstrate there is an interest.

A phone call to someone living alone comes with a risk – if you are the only person he or she has had contact with that week be prepared to donate some time.

Wherever you meet a one plate person, listen. So many of us listen to give a reply but do not really listen to what is said. Listening is becoming a lost art… but that is another subject.

For now, please don’t judge the person who is alone, negatively. Consider, every positive thing you say to someone else becomes part of you, and might mean the world to them.

Please,

Tread softly – you might be the difference between despair and delight to someone who is lonely.

Susan

Life as a Carer

It is lonely being a Carer

Anyone who is chronically ill needs a carer, or carers.

Last week I shared an item that I reacted to… that of a man, who was refused a flight booked by a hospital for a lung transport.

The news article (Adelaide Advertiser, South Australia) which prompted the blog was about a man with Pulmonary Fibrosis who had come up as a match for a lung transplant and been refused a seat on the flight the hospital doing the transplant had booked. I will not go into the details of that post, although I do need to make an observation.

One… there might not have been oxygen available on that flight for the man. This seems strange since the flight was booked by the hospital who would have done the transplant had the man been able to arrive there in time.

However, it also stirred up my thinking about the Carer… the person or people who care for the person with a chronic illness.

Unless a person who has a chronic illness lives alone and has no visitors, that person has at least one Carer.

Life as a Carer…

Life as a Carer often involves being a ‘parental’ figure. Often the person being cared for does not have an accurate view of his or her condition. This is a hard part of the carer’s job. Being the one who assesses what is needed for every hospital appointment, how to travel there safely and what medications might be missed/needed during the time away from home.

But carers often have the unenviable role of ‘nurse’, and – there’s more…

Carers often have to learn…

Carer has to learn

About the disease, its treatment, and management

About the medications prescribed including what they are for, any special instructions and potential side effects

Sometimes these put the Carer into the role of ‘antagonist’ to the person they are trying to support, often the person they love.

The carer needs…

  • Skills to help manage the fatigue, pain, frustration, and isolation that people with chronic disease often get – as well as their own.
  • To be able to communicate effectively with health professionals by answering questions accurately, asking your own questions and making sure you understand the information provided to you. (Talk about the information needed with the person you are caring for, if possible, and write the questions down and take them with you.)

One of my huge frustrations, and it was my late husband’s also…  was the specialist/doctor wanted him to answer questions. However, he did not understand the terms they used, and having been a nurse, I did. But, at least to begin with they did not want to hear my observations on his condition.

This had a counterpoint (opposing viewpoint) – sometimes my observations and his – clashed.

I remember attending a workshop for carers… At the beginning we were given a list of all the roles a Carer performed. It was a long list.

Something else a Carer needs –

… Understanding – or at least acceptance.

If you know someone who is a Carer – try to ‘cut them some slack’ – one of the first things to happen is they become ‘unreliable.’

  • They cannot make arrangements to have friends come to visit, or go to visit them. Many times they will have to cancel any arrangements. So, either the friends drop them, or they withdraw rather than face the embarrassment of having to cancel… again.
    • You will have to understand. (Or give up on the person.) It would be kinder to expect nothing and accept that it is a black or white spectrum. There are no shades of gray in this kind of life.

If you decide to care for the Carer… and the person.

  • Be understanding.
  • Accept that arrangements might change without notice, and do not take offense if they do.
  • Be a person they can trust with their feelings.

Being a Carer for a loved one is a very difficult ‘role’, so you need to accept that it is a way of life – their way of life. Lives which revolve around medical appointments, tests, medication times, and sometimes hospital admissions. These are the ‘outings’ for the Carer and person being cared for.

Being a Carer – or a person needing a carer is a very lonely place to be. Ask any Carer and they will tell you how difficult it is to hide their feelings and struggles from the person they are caring for. Ask anyone needing care and, depending on their insight about their Carer, they will tell you how much it hurts them to see the person caring for them struggling to cope with their care.

Whether the person is a Carer of an adult, a child, or someone in between, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, or any form of dementia – in spite of differences in the type of care, they face the same loneliness. Sometimes the Carer never ‘gets’ their friends back. Without a supportive family or network, isolation sets in and becomes a way of life.

On the outside, isolated, although near people. It is a lonely place to be.

Loneliness of a Carer, in a crowd

Just thinking, and sharing.

Susan