Friday, 2 May 2014

By Way of a Diary Entry

I need a wife. Even a husband would do.

I am old. Like the castle. And like the castle I just want to sit and look pretty. I want to brandish my pension book and leave big decisions to others, younger than me. I want to choose what I do, not have a course of action forced on me.   Enjoyable things. I don’t want to learn new tricks or do jobs which are meant for young people. Or men. Yes, men. Nothing of the feminist about me today.

Yesterday I was hanging out of the velux on the sloping roof trying to clear the channels either side of the window from moss and debris. There’s a new seepage stain in the cupboard in the roof space, which means rainwater gets in somewhere. Three different sets of workmen have looked at the roof, scratched their heads,  rearranged their boys’ bits, fiddled with tiles and sheets of some metal and gone away, leaving a big bill behind. One of these days that window will be the death of me.

I’ve been going into CBT -  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy -  on the internet this morning. There’s this phobia I have about driving up a particular steep lane in Valley’s End. About five years ago I lost control of the car on this lane, rolled backwards into a gate, demolished the gate and wrote off the car; nobody else was involved and nobody got hurt. Since then I have avoided this lane. Unfortunately that makes coming into Valley’s End from the Welsh side a bit of a bummer; either I have to go the long way round, two to three miles extra, or persuade Beloved to do that bit which actually takes no more than five minutes. Beloved no longer has a driving licence because of his poor eyesight.  Making him drive could cause problems with the law. So you see, one way and another it would be good if I could get over this phobia.

I told my doctor and he advised CBT. Really and truly, I would prefer to sidestep the whole issue, ostrich-like (do ostriches really stick their heads into the sand? I must find out); but Knighton is where the poetry group meets and my face-girl has her treatment room. Which do I choose? Give them up or endure the inevitable panic attacks?

A competent wife or husband would take this decision off me. They’d only need to be part-time, of course. The law also frowns on bigamists.

I learned on the website of MIND - for better mental health that CBT can be an effective therapy for a number of problems:

anger management
anxiety and panic attacks *
chronic fatigue syndrome
chronic pain
depression *
drug or alcohol problems
eating problems *
general health problems
habits, such as facial tics
mood swings *
obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) *
phobias *
post-traumatic stress disorder
sexual and relationship problems
sleep problems *

The list awards me seven brownie points, that is if chocolate cravings and a mild need to arrange pills, chocolate buttons, newspapers, spoons and socks in orderly matching pairs, strictly aligned according to length, count.

What happened to those wonderful days when the aged were shoved into the inglenook, or in particularly drastic cases, pushed into a cupboard, fed when someone remembered and otherwise forgotten and left to get on with drooling and gnashing their toothless gums. They never had to make a decision.  Actually, that sounds remarkably like some modern nursing homes, except there you may have the added excitement of being called names and given a slap when the carers can’t force your arthritic arms and legs into your garments quickly enough. 


  1. Oh my, you are having abad time. I understand the driving issues. I always make so excuse or other. Fortunately, David sees better than me. Great read, although the image of being stuffed into a cupboard or slapped may give me nightmares.

  2. Yes, I saw that TV documentary on care homes too, Friko. Disgusting.

    I hear a genuine plea and rage here behind your humour and irony.

    CBT can be quite effective, I'm told, for phobias. Though, having once started training as a counsellor (I had to give it up as I was told I talked too much!), and having known counsellors, my opinion about counselling is ambivalent.

    My unprofessional, blog friend advice is: forget the seepage, forget the stains, and carry on being you. And take the long way round. Or take a taxi?

  3. This kind of thing can be so upsetting and annoying. I am not sure CBT really helps. I had a phobia about driving which lasted for years. One day it went away. I hope it doesn't come back!

  4. hey i hope that CBT works for you to help you overcome this fear....
    ugh on the nursing homes...i honestly hope i never make it that far...

  5. Hmmm. I've had at least six of those issues. Sign me up.

  6. Oh dear. I am not going to admit just how many of those problems surface in my life. Some have taken up residence, and others are intermittent (albeit uninvited) guests.
    Good luck.
    And I would love to have a wife. Or a husband, but preferably a wife.

  7. Friko, I so wish that we could get together tomorrow for a long catch up. I completely "get" all that you've been writing about.

    Think I will email you. xo

  8. Panic attacks...never had one...but can so imagine how brave you have to be. Can you get a friend to go with you as you attempt several times to drive this road. You know that intellectually it is just a road like any other. Keep working away at it and you will be so proud when you have gotten over it. What you need is a servant who does everything and anything you ask. I would like one of those!

  9. From experience, I consider CBT valuable in managing anxiety, but do not think a mere 3-mile detour, avoiding a treacherous bit of road, is a violation of cognitive behavioral protocol. That's just good sense.

  10. I don't have any phobias but I do have an unpleasant dream about driving up an exceedingly steep bridge or over pass and if I manage to make it to the top I know there is no way I'm going to make it back down the other side and when I do crest it and start down, the car loses it's traction and goes into free fall. nasty little dream.

  11. Wow -- I'll be curious to hear how successful this is for you -- I could use that in any number of ways, I think! And you're not alone with having spots that give you a total freak on the road. I will be going by one tomorrow and know there is a way around it -- but don't know what that way is. A friend takes it all the time but by the time she tosses in all the rights and lefts and roundabouts to get to the spot that passes it by, I'm confused! I certainly do hope the CBT works. Good thoughts your way.

  12. I giggled at "rearranged their boys’ bits"

    As a psychologist, I sometimes get annoyed by physician's recommending CBT. It's not that I don't use it in my own work, it's just that it's a simplistic idea that pure CBT works for everyone. Life is more complicated than that. I'd prefer for people to tell me what they want to change and let me structure the therapy in the way I know will be most helpful.

  13. For the past few years I have been taking the long way around and breathing easy. I understand where you are coming from as my husband and I were in a very bad accident where he almost died and I was scarred for life, both physically and emotionally. I recovered, but over time more and more fear overcame me. Is it age or is it the memories that have sometimes crippled me. Probably both. So yes, when I must get from A to B and I think I can't take the most convenient and shortest route for fear of having a panic attack, I take the road less traveled and enjoy the ride.

  14. My favorite is "I could use a little help." I t wouldn't have to be a wife or husband...just help. And by the way, i don't want to end up in a nursing home. Many of them are very good but it's still a terrible place.

  15. I think you have a point here, Friko, and that is that we're now being kept alive and versatile way beyond nature's intention. You're not allowed to get old any more, or you are, but only of you admit that 'oldness' is only a passage not a destination. You have to be seen to be engaged with the world and it certainly isn't going to let you stop being engaged with it.
    I am in full sympathy with you. Whatever happened to being allowed to age gracefully, even if it isn't so graceful? Why can't you just be allowed to sit? Why are there all these buttons to push and these forms to fill out? I don't know. The world seems to be living in its head.

  16. Hello,

    We feel your angst. We do understand your angst and, actually, we fear that we may have one or two items in need of CBT ourselves. However, we are firmly in the camp of skirting round and enjoying the ride and only facing demons when there is positively no other choice. And then, when the demons come, to fight with all your might.

    We are all for help wherever, whenever and whatever may be required. It is just, sadly, a matter of paying for it. If we never had to cook, dust, clean or make the bed again in our lives that would be truly heaven for us. We make an art form out of sitting and are, we think, truly professional at Lazy Tarting.

    So, could your face girl come to you? Can you host the poetry group in your garden? Or, what about a move to the bus passes......cultural events on the doorstep......and no need girl a car! No castles, though....except those in the air!

  17. I still want to learn new tricks but no work anymore I became lazy ! Drive on this lane you avoid ! You just have to do like somebody who fell off his horse, it's said that he has to sit up again immediately otherwise he also gets a horse phobia ! I don't mind driving everywhere as long as I have my GPS with me ! Otherwise I get always lost, even in my street (or nearly).

  18. Ditto on the nursing homes - I cannot imagine how people that torture olde people get a job there. They, themselves should be tortured when found out - I would be your driver if I lived closer and take you anywhere you wanted to go :) Instead of driving to some of these people you need to see, can they come and see you in your home - might make that a bit easier for sometimes professional people will come to your home.
    When my Mom wasn't well, I had her hair dresser and doctor come to the house - no problem, but then I live in a small town. Hope you find the easy answers to that dreaded hill.

  19. When I did one of my internships for my studies, I learned a lot about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and its effectiveness. It's proven to be extremely effective! I am a strong believer in it. I hope it helps you overcome the phobia :)

  20. I think I'd keep taking the long way round, invite the poetry group home and forget the facials.....avoid unnecessary challenges as there are plenty of unavoidable ones about.

    The nursing home nightmare is one that my mother dreads facing....along with the Liverpool Care Pathway to death operated in her local hospital...

    Leo doesn't drive any more - his paralysis makes for interesting handling of the brakes - and my eyesight is too bad to make it worth risking someone else's life, let alone mine, so Danilo, who does all the hard work around here, drives us wherever we want to go.
    It cuts down on spontaneity....but at least we get out.

    I feel for you about that guttering....I used to have to repaint the shutters every year on the house in France, some of which involved hanging out of tall windows on the fourth floor, as having a man in to do it meant paying for scaffolding and goodness only knows what else only to have a sloppy job done.
    The same with cleaning down and treating the beams....ladders perched on planks between main beams to reach the higher ones...I would have given a lot for someone else to have done that, but there wasn't anyone reliable. Nomatter what the payment.

    I do sympathise with're not having the best of times just lately....and hope that, as for Mr. Micawber, something (or someone) will turn up.

  21. Oh dear - I could tick a few of the items on that list too.
    It sounds like you've had a bad spring all around, Friko. There must be something weird about the alignment of the stars, as it's been bad over here too. If you find a way to get yourself a wife, please let me know. I too am weary of doing it all myself.

  22. I understand your fear. You may recall that I only learned to drive and am very newly licensed, myself - so fears about difficult maneuvers are very much on the surface for me. I suspect that as with most things, just doing it successfully a few times will reduce your anxiety considerably. I think Tabor's suggestion is a fine one. Get your Beloved, or a trusted friend to come along with you and encourage you through it a few times before you attempt it alone again. That's if you strongly believe you need to save that extra mileage. If you feel much more secure doing the workaround, who's to say that's not the best thing for you? One way or the other, you'll find your comfort zone. That's yours to decide.

  23. I hope you can conquer the fear--yes, beat the living hell out of it! I suppose that's where that saying about getting back on the horse comes from. Otherwise you can remain afraid of horses. (I can relate to not having gotten back on a horse or two in my life.) It has nothing to do with age.
    Love and hugs!! :)

  24. CBT can help so much, because most of what most bothers us in our lives, is all down to how we see problems, and react to them without realizing what we are doing Be brave.

  25. That's OK baby, let all that darkness out. There's a girl.

    At one stage in my life I made the smallest bedroom in my house my bedroom and hung it with these draperies to make it smaller again. I felt so safe in there. Safe from what would be an excellent question except I would still not be able to answer it. I ran into a problem when younger daughter had her own problems in the middle of the night and would leap into my sacred space and huddle in fear beside me and I had to comfort her without having slain my own dragons. She was 29 at the time.

    All this in the way of saying: I get you.


  26. Understand so much you share.
    Moved to my country property for peace and quiet
    and like driving the almost empty roads.
    Sometimes I have the thought
    that eventually do I need to be in the big city
    near children.
    No - they are so busy and the busyness
    would sure unsettle this one.
    Good luck
    in all I hope you conquer...

  27. You put some humorous twists into this situation I face too, as we age and become old like castles. I love the idea of just sitting and being catered to and doing only what we like. Pushed into the inglenook, a funny word picture from you. I hope the behavioural therapy is a great success for you in driving down that lane.

  28. You don't need a wife. You need a Personal Assistant! For remember what they say: The trouble with bigamy is that you have one wife (or spouse) too many; the trouble with monogamy is that ... you have one wife too many! Anyway, I hear CBT can work for fear of flying, too. Haven't tried it yet; but I will next time I book a flight.

  29. I sympathise about the driving phobia, as I also increasingly dislike, and try to avoid, some if the steep, narrow, winding lanes which abound in the Marches. I hope CBT can help.

  30. Ah, we must be sharing dreams...
    I hate driving, must force myself to continue to drive and continue to take care of things I don't like just to remain mobile. Otherwise, I can't afford to pay for all the services I'm not willing to do.

  31. Never mind about an extra wife or husband . What happened to the family robot that , according to '60s science fiction , we were all supposed to have by now ? Though I have a feeling I'd have been the one grappling with the programming and instalation ...
    Meanwhile , I quite understand your determination to do as much as you can yourself but really would suggest taking the longer route to both poetry club and hairdresser and enjoying them properly .

  32. Whether CBT could possibly be appropriate surely depends on whether the problem is real or not. Dangerous streets are dangerous, and it's sensible, particularly if you've had a scrape, to be wary. Or so it seems to me. Having to drive, bottom line, is a big and bigger problem as we all get older, and as you already know so well. I can't stand that up where we are. So much better to live where everything you need is close by and there is plentiful public transportation. Or, once again, so it seems to me.

  33. EFT or the Tapping Solution is very effective for phobias, and you can find videos online to tap along with. Good luck with shifting the phobia. Good on you for tackling it.

  34. Your last paragraph is a little scary. I'd hate to be in one of those nursing homes we see here on TV when someone exposes them for tying the patients to wheelchairs or beds, patients lying in dirty wet clothing and bedding because there aren't enough carers or nurses to see to all of them every day, food left on trays for patients who are clearly unable to feed themselves, so the patients slowly starve. Others get drugged so they don't "make a fuss" so the nurses can get on with all the paperwork that is required. something is definitely wrong there.

  35. Take the long way and sing songs for the extra three miles :)

  36. Let us know when you've slain that dragon!

  37. I hope so much this will help you to deal with the phobia! I'm sure you can do it so you don't have to miss out on anything anymore. I can so understand where the phobia comes from though, I'd be scared now, too.
    Don't stop believing in yourself! You'll be so proud of yourself once you're past it :)

  38. Hi Friko - knowing your countryside I can see your challenge and boy there are some steep hills around ... I think I'd ignore the whole thing and drive the few extra miles ... and not miss out anything. Good luck with that water leakage though ... Life is full of decisions, and more of them .. but not the arthritic shove into clothes - thank you .. enjoy the somewhat better weather ... Hilary


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