Sunday, 26 January 2020

The pain of empathy

Tonight I had a reminder of why I stopped looking at facebook.   As I mentioned in my previous post my only weakness - I say 'weakness', it's only been twice in the last fortnight! - is to look at Lazlo's breeder's page to see her dogs.   So I had a look tonight and one of her posts included comments about one of her dogs having lost her on the beach for 30 minutes, which any dog owner will tell you feels like 30 hours.   Now my empathy response has kicked in and I recognise the feeling as one I have not been having for the last two weeks. 

For me, empathy with negative experiences usually manifests itself as anxiety, faster heart rate, even a feeling of panic as my brain imagines or remembers being in a similar situation. 

My empathy can relate to anything - I get it when one of my friends has to have their dog put down; if a friend loses a parent; if I imagine how Mr H must have been feeling at our RTA, or if I see an ambulance - that relates both to our RTA and to watching my father taken away in one (he survived); I get it when someone has a disappointing experience, one that I could easily have had.  It has differing levels of symptoms depending on the context but it nearly always feels unpleasant.  (You probably noticed that I mentioned the loss of  a dog before the loss of a parent, because it happens more often; and I've experienced the former three times, and the latter only once).

I now realise how many things on social media are liable to trigger this empathetic anxiety, and it has made me even more determined to do my mental state a favour and stay off it.

Lazlo and his brothers and sisters.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Switch off and tune in

Two weeks ago I was so wound up by a post that a friend shared on facebook (one of those incessant do-gooder preachy articles) that I deleted the facebook app off my smartphone.   It felt good, but I knew that a) I've done that before and put it back on the next day and b) I still had the facebook account and could access it from my iPad or laptop and c) I didn't want to delete my account because I run a page for our motorsport and also one for my work. 

However, the effect that simply removing the app from my smartphone had has been eye-opening.  Over the last two weeks the only time I've been on to my personal facebook profile has been to 'unfriend' a lot of acquaintances (so many that the word 'friend' started looking as though it was mis-spelled), change some privacy settings and delete a lot of my 'about' information.  I did consciously look at our Pointer's breeder's page once simply because I love her dogs, but there was no scrolling, no newsfeed, I just had a quick look and then closed it.  I found that I can still use the Pages app to maintain our motorsport page without temptation to stray to other bits of facebook while updating it. 

So what are those eye-opening effects have I noticed from my abstention from browsing other people's lives and opinions?

  • I feel generally more relaxed
  • That underlying tension that simmered along in my life has gone
  • I have more time for reading that pile of books that I have collected 
  • I feel more present in the moment rather than wondering if there's anything worth checking out online
  • I am more focussed with tasks generally, either at home or at work
  • I am more tuned-in and engaged when having conversations
  • I 'have time' for 10 minutes meditation (with Headspace) before work; and if I feel that I don't, then I make time
  • And hey, I have time to write a blog post! Maybe I'll do more, who knows. Or maybe not.

Surprisingly (or maybe not, given these benefits I've noticed) I feel no compunction to login to see what I'm missing. 

Now I'm going to put my laptop down and get started on the next book.  Here is a photo of my dog Lazlo, just because he is awesome and I love him.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Fear and a revelation

My brain has been twitching to write a new post since June.  It was 9 years in June since our car crash and I had started thinking 'if only... would things have been different? Could I have avoided the crash?'  For instance, one of the recurring thoughts has been 'if my headlights had been on, would she have seen me in time to get back to her side of the road?'.  Why, when it was not my fault apart from being on the road at the wrong time, do I ask myself this?

Perhaps it is because I am now more aware of the question of blame in any incident, and what a thin line it can be, and I try hard to ensure I will not be seen to be at fault if anything happens.  It is probably this thought that makes me put my lights on much earlier than I used to these days (our cars aren't new enough to have automatic headlights).  I don't want anyone saying "I didn't see you".   One of the effects of the crash is that I now find myself nervous of even the smallest potential incidents on the road, especially when I am not driving. Sometimes if I am feeling hyper-vigilant I just shut my eyes or try and sleep, or study things on my phone.  What I don't see can't bother me.

I know that since June 2010 I am more aware of, and afraid of, the possibility of pain.  You know how sometimes someone tells you about an injury they had, and they describe it and it makes you cringe with horror but they don't seem that bothered?  I found this if I showed my x-rays to people (to be fair they did look pretty awful, but to me they were just fact).  The power of the imagination is such that the thought of something is often worse than when it actually happens.  When it happens to you it is usually so quick there is no time to imagine it or be afraid of it.  It's done and you deal with it.  But now I am afraid of what might happen and how much it would hurt.

The reason for wanting to write this was that I realised that although I am scared of accidents and pain and having another crash or being knocked off my bicycle, I do not wish our crash had never happened.  This realisation was quite a revelation to me.

Of course, I wish that the other driver had not died. I wish that she had not left a partner, and a young boy without a mother.  I wish that she had come out of it pretty much OK physically and mentally, like I and Mr H have.   

The truth is, my life has been a whole lot better since June 2010.    My relationships are healthier, I know that 'life is too short to...' , and I have a new hobby in motorsport that I love and that Mr H and I enjoy together, and a fantastic motorsport 'family' that comes free with it.  I am better at knowing what is important and what is not so important.  Much of this is a direct result of the crash and the aftermath, and the jolt that it gave our lives.

Not being able to run and jump any more seems a small price to pay.

Competing in our Hillman Imp at Doune hill climb in Scotland

Monday, 17 October 2016

D & R

Sometimes the posts I wrote on this blog after the crash seem like a dream.    Through those days, weeks and months my blog was a great source of strength for me, it helped me clear my mind.  I was a place for me to think out loud, to fill my days with projects such as photographs and art, to share the big effect on my life with new friends.

Now that all seems an age ago, although it was only 6 years.  No I am not fully recovered and never will be - the damage done to the muscles and soft tissues in my right leg are not going away. I will never go jogging again.  But my life is good, it is full, it is busy, and I revel in my new hobby of motorsport and only occasionally miss the sailing.   I have made many new friends through the fitness studio I joined to rehabilitate my leg.  I don't need to write this blog any more, yet it is a diary for me to look back at on occasion - a reminder of all the stuff (good and bad) that went through my mind during that time. 

A reminder that the reality of my life today is based on those times that now seem like a dream.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Reflecting on my 40s..

On the last evening of my 40s I've been reflecting and I reckon it has probably been my most eventful decade so far...

- Spent 6 years studying for an Open University degree and graduated with First Class Honours.
- Lived on my own twice, for 12 months and 15 months, when Alex was working in Scotland.
- Said goodbye to two Pointers :( and Hello to another :)
- Had a big van crash and was black'n'blue all over with a split-open-sausage knee and a smashed up femur.
- Rediscovered how amazing my husband is.
- Gave up sailing (for now).
- Took up speed hill climbing & sprinting.
- Rediscovered classic cars.
- Started dog showing again after a 12 year gap.
- Accepted an unconditional offer to do a 2 yr MSc with Portsmouth Uni.
- Celebrated 25 years and 30 years working at RORC.

I wonder what the next decade will bring...?

Monday, 16 February 2015

Loose screws...

I had the top two screws removed from my hip 5 weeks ago. Totally my choice as I've been getting depressed about it still hurting. No they weren't loose but they were a couple of centimetres too long..

So I feel as though I've taken a few steps back but long term I'm hoping it will help. I've already noticed that when I hug my knees to my chest there is no longer resistance in my hip where there was before, and I can touch my toes first thing in the morning! 

That's got to make it worth it, right??

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Spot's Spot: Introduction

Hello everyone

I will pay homage to my predecessor Django who by all accounts was a really lovely chap and a cool dude to boot, I'm sad that I never met him :(  for the first week I was here, my humans kept calling me Django instead of Lazlo so I know that they miss him, they seem to be settling in now though.   I hope he won't mind me taking over his spot here, especially as I do have plenty of tummy spots.

Sooooo I got taken away from my brothers and sisters and driven for MILES to this new place, which was a bit scary but I did manage to sleep on the way. The humans seem nice and gave me lots of cuddles, and it's quite nice getting all the attention with no-one to compete with. 

I'm told that the garden is not the whole world and that there is more of it out there! Holy Moly! I'm not sure how I'll cope with that, my little legs get tired just running up and down here!

I have to say I've been feeling the heat this week, but I learned something cool - if I stick my tongue out and breathe it cools me down!  I've also learned that barking is fun, but it doesn't seem to have the effect that I want, the toys don't move and the humans just laugh at me - they should be SCARED!

My vet is really nice and apparently I might get an invitation to a party soon - what should I wear?

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Reasons to get up

In December I wrote that the loss of Django had left a huge hole and a feeling of having nothing to care for, and how it felt as though there was no reason to get up in the morning.

Now we have a new reason to get up in the morning, in the form of Lazlo.... 

Lazlo, aka Hawkfield Tamarack
With the hillclimbing we are doing with the car, we didn't intend to have another puppy until later in the year, but when the right one comes along there's nothing you can do!   Lazlo comes from a laid back home and shared his first 8 weeks with 7 brothers and sisters, poultry and ducks and rabbits. It was after a visit to see Wendy at Hawkfield with a view to getting a pup later in the year from the same lines, that we met her pups and decided that we wanted one from her - we liked the way they were being brought up, and our approaches to dogs and puppies seemed to match!  We reckoned that these pups have had a brilliant start to life and would fit in with us just perfectly, and thankfully Wendy must have decided that we were suitable to be trusted with one of her pups.
Lazlo was born on 8th May so turns 9 weeks old today.  We picked him up last Friday night and he has settled in brilliantly, seemingly already house-trained (no need to keep getting the free Telegraph from Waitrose then!) and interested in EVERYTHING.  He loves the garden which has plenty of obscure places to explore and birds to stalk, and likes to sit on the edge of the veranda and watch what's going on in his estate.
Going back to my December post, I feel incredibly protective towards this little man, and Mr H says his life is now complete again.  Lazlo is not just a puppy, he is a member of our family that depends upon us completely, and that is definitely a good reason to get up in the morning.