Updated: Jul 23
Hello and welcome,
If you have joined me here it may be because you have read some of my books and wanted to know more about the author, or you may have just stumbled across the blog in some other way. Whichever route you took, I am glad you are here.
As the title suggests, I am at a bit of a loss, and I am sure I am not alone in that. I thought I had it sussed; I was going to make a difference in the world. When I was twenty seven I qualified as a counsellor. At thirty I added spiritual healing and at thirty two I opened my own therapy centre. Fast forward to age forty and I had to close the business (apparently the banks don't care how much light you bring into the world, if you're not making money it has to stop). Someone was looking out for me though, because I immediately found work supporting patients to help themselves with their own health and wellbeing and twenty years later that is still what I am doing. I am lucky enough to love my work, to be surrounded by a great team of people and to be able to spend my leisure time writing my novels, novellas and short stories.
However, since having Covid in March 2022, I have developed cognitive issues linked to Long Covid that have affected both my paid work and my creative writing. So, now in my sixties, it is all looking a bit shaky. I am still searching for my way to make the world a better place whilst it feels as though I am running out of time and energy (not to mention declining ability. Fortunately though, I have always been a glass half full kinda gal, and I am going to find a way through this.
I have started this blog as a positive step in my recovery process and as a record for myself, in case my memory does not improve, but I also hope that its pages will provide an insight into my slightly odd creative mind, that it might serve to increase awareness of mental ill health and provide a fair amount of entertainment along the way.
If you would like to keep me company on my journey just subscribe below - I would love to hear from you.
The first two weeks
Hello again, and welcome back.
Before we start, I would just like to remind my reader's that we are all unique, nobody's recovery process is the same as another's, nobody's progress will go at the same rate. Be kind to yourself, listen to your body and do what is right for you. Right, well now that that is said, here is the start of my journey. I hope you will find some of the contents of help.
It's Saturday 10th June just two weeks since my bosses insisted that I take a week off work to make a start on my recovery, and it feels like a lot has happened. Having had Post Covid Syndrome confirmed (it's not a diagnosis because, as far as I can work out, there is uncertainty about the exact cause or causes), I was provided with a whole list of website links providing support and advice, which I happily share below. The level of support was amazing, even the assessment itself served to make me feel like I wasn't going mad, which was a huge relief. As I mentioned before, my symptoms are more of a cognitive nature than physical, although my physical health had been affected too. For the first twelve hours or so after the assessment I felt euphoric; there was hope, there were things I could do for myself that would improve (if not completely reverse the way I had been feeling. But most of all, it was the acknowledgement that there really was something going on, it wasn't just my imagination or that I was getting 'lazy and crazy' in my later years.
So far, so good. But then I started to read through all the support information. It was like having another full-time job. There was so much of it and I felt like I was drowning.
I knew what the problem was. I am a serial multi-tasker, never happy unless I have at least three 'projects' on the go at once, this is usually comprised of my full-time work, my university degree and the next book in the Moons & Runes series. Changes would have to be made, and the thought of giving up on any of it did not fill me full of joy. Nevertheless, it had to be done.
I am five years into a six year (part time) Open University degree course in Art & Humanities (Creative Writing) and have just submitted my last assignment for the year. I had also completed book 3 in the Moons & Runes series and was waiting on the artwork before publishing. Stopping work was not an option (as I am sure is the case for many of you), so I took the reluctant decision to defer my degree for a year on the understanding that I could keep deferring until my retirement if I needed to. I hoped that this would be enough and that I could continue to write because writing gives me such joy that I couldn't bear to stop it completely.
My bosses were marvellous. Having received the report from The Post Covid Assessment service and Occupational Health, they insisted that I take a week off work to 'get on top' of the support information and begin to put some of the recovery activities into practice. This week was invaluable, and I spent it, in planning and prioritising my life and most importantly focusing on doing things mindfully. Multi-tasker to Mindfulness is not an easy step I can tell you, and, well let's just say, it's a work in progress. My first attempt involved a beautiful mindfulness meditation interspersed with adverts! Needless to say, it did not have the desired effect. Mindfulness, for me, is going to take a bit of practice.
I spent my week sleeping and getting outside for walks which was something I hadn't done in over a year. The first day I managed about 50 metres, but two weeks later I am up to around 2.5k. I don't manage it every day, sometimes I just need to sleep, but more often than not I get out and walk.
I am doing my breathing exercises twice a day and I ordered the 'Smell Kit', again I will put the links below. I wrote myself a schedule for the jobs around the house, just one job a day. This didn't make the jobs any easier, but it did stop me from using energy to think about what I needed do, and, perhaps more importantly, to be satisfied that I had done enough once that one job was done.
I took practical steps like creating a basic grocery shopping list via Tesco online delivery service, so that in future, if I can't think about what we need specifically I can just copy the order for the essentials at the press of a button. I also had my long hair cut off to save having to hold up the hairdryer; a bit of a drastic move and I hated it to start with but am getting used to it now, and it's so much easier.
Finally, I am back to work this week, just doing 3 hours a day. It has been a challenge and now that Saturday is here I am whacked, but I have been able to write this blog, which is more than I could do some days, so I consider that a win.
Don't forget to sign up to my website to follow my recovery journey, get access to short stories and insider information on my books, and be the first to know when a new book is underway.
Remember, be kind to yourself, and I hope the links below will be helpful to you.
Hello again readers,
This morning, like most mornings, I woke early; two fifteen in fact, worse than usual. It was clear that the recovery work I had been doing so far was not hitting the spot.
Physically, I feel better than I felt three months ago; the daily walking is clearly making a difference to that, and I have been really careful with my diet, so that must be having some positive effect too, but my mind is all over the place. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I don’t know what day it is, but I am having real trouble in grasping the passing of time. (I am finding it difficult to work out what time is two hours from now, or how many days there are to go until the end of the month, for example.) On top of that, I find I am being affected disproportionately by things that are happening around me, by news stories of violence and hatred, and by the state of the world.
These were the things that were going through my mind in the early hours. Then it hit me. I recalled the words of the physiotherapist who assessed me for Post Covid Syndrome. She said PCS throws a person out of balance with themselves, something I could relate to having previously worked with channelling energy and balancing chakras in my complementary therapy days.
Why didn’t I act on this information at the time? I think, looking back now, that it was because of all the other information I was given. I think it just got lost in the many website links, appointments and exercises I was being urged to do. Or maybe I just wasn’t ready for it then. I am now.
Of course I am out of balance; maybe it is down to Post Covid Syndrome, but maybe PCS has just highlighted something my body was trying to tell me anyway, and I just hadn’t been listening; I have moved away from my spiritual path, I write about it, sure, but I’m not living it anymore, not the way I used to. I’m not working with the energies every day. This needs to change, and I am going to start doing more of what I am meant to be doing.
As always, this kind of work begins with the self. So, it is time for me to refocus my attention on balancing those chakras, reaching out to the universe, and connecting once again with the healing energies that surround us all.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
Weeks four to nine (Hopefully - still getting a bit confused with dates)
Well, it's been a while and there have been ups and downs but on balance, it has been a good six weeks. I got to see Adam, my oldest son, and his family in America, meeting my most recent grandchild for the first time, which was wonderful. It was a fantastic week with lots of opportunities to relax which did me the world of good. (The jet lag after the journey home was a different matter, but we won't go there.) Max, my middle son also has an addition to his family. A brand new puppy, Pearl, who I am sure will feature in the Getting to Know You blog when she calms down a little.
As I mentioned last time, I have been working a lot more closely with healing energies as part of my recovery, and also as part of my self-development. I am now making time to meditate daily instead of just twice a week as part of my But Once healing group and bringing the energies into everything I do, be that writing the next POISE Archives novel or cleaning the oven (That's on my to-do list for this afternoon! Such is the glamourous life I lead.) :)
Regular energy balancing and healing sessions have helped me to return to work, albeit still on reduced hours, and I have even started to write a little; something I could not have contemplated a month ago. I have had so much support from friends, family, doctors, the Wellbeing Service, Occupational Health and the Post Covid Assessment team that I am feeling really blessed. All in all, things are looking positive and I now feel able to give something back.
I have added a page to my website Virtual Healing Room | Martine Cullum (martinecullumwrites.com) and if you would like to receive absent healing to aid your own recovery in whatever area of your life you may need, please just put your name down on the request form on that page. You will be included in our twice-weekly sessions.
Finally, I have been reminded since all this began of the importance of balance in life, sleeping, working and doing the things you love. It brought to mind the old Mars Bar advert. Not that I'm suggesting we should all start eating more chocolate - no - of course not - that would be just wrong.
Kindest Regards for now,