In with the New
Hello. Hope your Christmas went well and you're now looking forward to the New Year. I'm not really sure, as I sit down to write this, quite where this week's column is going to go. I don't do new year's resolutions, I never have. But this year I am thinking that I need to have plans, or aims, for the next year. Not of the 'I will run three miles a day' or the 'I will give up chocolate' variety. I want specific, measurable and hopefully achievable targets. When you are a carer it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, by which I mean often anything past the end of the week. It is also very easy to lose sight of yourself. So here and now I'm going to work through where these two are going this year, and try to be ready for them. Sit tight.
Right, let's start with the caring thing shall we? This morning R explained to me that her ongoing series of kidney infections means that she may find herself admitted to hospital for treatment. There isn't, in some ways, a whole lot we can do about this. We can't amend her diet or change anything that will make her less likely that she will get repeat infections. What we can do, is keep her as well as possible but also plan for what to do should the worst happen. R has been in hospital a few times before and has a good idea about what would make her stay as bearable as possible, so she has that much prepared. We can also start to think about other aspects of coping with her absence. I'm aware even as I write that in some respects I bury my head in the sand and pretend that everything is going to be fine. Well, maybe it is. But maybe it isn't, and I'm doing nobody, including myself, any favours by pretending otherwise. If Raven is going to be away for a day, or two, or more, I need to be prepared. Who will look after the rabbits while I am at work? How will I find time to do all the shopping and cleaning and other jobs that R currently does? Last time she was in Hospital I was fortunate to have a couple of coinciding days off. That may not happen again. Do I need to ask for time off work in this event? I need to get a handle on my rights here. So job one, get properly prepared for an emergency.
So then there's me. I need to keep track of myself in the midst of all of this. Buried somewhere a sitcom script is burning a hole in my hard drive. It needs to be rewritten (again) and then reread (again). Then, assuming the… um…. 4th rereading throws up no more major anomalies, it needs to be thrown to the mercy of a production company. But somehow I have to make time for all of this. How do I do that? Where does my time actually go? For me, caring for a depressed person involves a fair amount of picking up the pieces of things they lack the motivation to do for themselves. I sort of hope that amidst this and all the other caring and non-caring related tasks I will find room for myself. Again, you may have noticed, I am hoping/assuming that things will sort themselves out, rather than deciding that I need to make things happen. So I reckon (subject to marital negotiation) two hours per week to myself, in which I will do nothing by write. I will not take on any other tasks during this time. If I do, the time will be made up elsewhere. I'll be honest, I don't see this happening, but you've got to start somewhere.
All of which leads me to here, and to you lot. I'm not sure how many of these I've written, because I haven't quite had time to total them all up. It's probably more than 100. Sometimes I worry that I'm repeating myself, or that I'm not really saying anything of value, or that it my rush to get my copy out for this week's deadline (as usual, this week's went to DG at the last possible moment, I'm writing this on Christmas Eve) what I've written is, in any of a variety of ways, not good enough. So what do I do? Do I accept that I've produced a respectable body of work and that ploughing on incessantly is no longer helpful? Or do I insist that there is always more to say, and that part of this year's review must simply be to find a way to do it better. I enjoy writing this column but is it still the best use of my time? Is it getting me anywhere, and is it benefiting anyone apart from me? I have no idea whether I'm writing this, whether sharing is something I should be doing to ease the weight on my own shoulders, or whether this is going about putting myself first in completely the wrong way. I don't know whether this will work or what I expect it to achieve. In many ways, I suppose, it's exactly what being a carer is like for me.