How to feel “normal”

It’s been 1 1/2 years since I lost both my parents in a very short space of time. They both had cancer and I nursed them at home till they died and as an only child found this very difficult to process initially,
I have no money worries as my parents left me an inheritance including a house and have a good job so in essence I should have no worries.
I just feel that I can’t move on and I’m not the person I was before, I have lost all decision-making ability, am incredibly anxious about everything and some days struggle to see the point in anything. When does this start to improve as I can’t “get on with it” much longer? I have absolutely no one I can talk to about this.
Would appreciate hearing from anyone who has experienced similar who feels things are improving.

Hello Cate. Sorry to read about what you have been through. I’m certainly no expert but do you feel you could be experiencing some level of residual or delayed depression? You sound as if you really know your own mind so I could be speaking out of order really but you mention you get anxious and often see little point in things periodically. Apparently a major tell-tale symptom of depression is an inability to make decisions and this described me as I was told by my GP before she diagnosed me with reactive depression. It was just a thought. I’m sure others will answer you with their advice as well. Warmest regards to you.

Hello Cate

I read your post with a lot of interest and sadness, I am so sorry to see you have lost both your parents and within a short period of time. You have been very brave nursing both of them and coping ever since then. Being an only child must have made this feel much worse though it is good they have left you well provided for.

However as you so rightly say it is the emotional side which is more difficult to come to terms with. I lost my Dad a long time ago now and Mum the same as you only just over 18 months ago. I nursed her when she came home after being given a terminal diagnosis so understand exactly how difficult and painful you must have found everything. I have a sibling who was very difficult at that time, still is. We muddled through together somehow and having someone else there however irritating was something.

19 months on and like you I have a house and a job. I find some days awful and can hardly get out of bed. Debbie McGee on Strictly Come Dancing last year described losing her husband Paul Daniels as having lost her sparkle completely which I think sums it up well. I have reached an acceptance of not having my parents any more but I certainly don’t like it.

If things are feeling insurmountable it might be worth seeing your doctor for a chat. This doesn’t have to mean taking antidepressants if you don’t want to. Cognitive therapy - talking therapy - is something I have heard about as being very good. Even just something to help you sleep if that is a problem too.

If you are living on your own do you eat properly? Sounds silly but I realised very quickly if I didn’t bother to eat something more substantial than a couple of crispbreads and a snack soup I felt much worse. Comfort food works well for me, baked potatoes and beans that sort of thing. Relaxing in a hot bath with nice bubble bath is another good one. I go for really long walks as much as I can, it is my thinking time to remember Mum and happier times with her.

Have you anyone at work to talk to? When my Dad passed away I was very lucky in that a colleague looked after me. She had trained as a counsellor and I was told to go and sit in her office with her whenever I needed to be with someone. There was no pressure or having to report to Human Resources, just an informal arrangement between us. With Mum one of her friends fell into the same role, almost a surrogate Mum. Now I have moved away from that area I miss her and her husband but know I can ring them up anytime I want to.

Keep coming back here. There is always someone who can respond and advise.

You take care of yourself

Hi Cate,

I’m sorry that you’re having such a tough time at the moment. I lost my Mum 4 years ago, she was my best friend & I was devastated.

If I’m honest I’m not the same person anymore & that took a lot of time to acknowledge, accept and then over time to be ok with it and redefine what ‘normal’ meant for me.

I had bereavement counselling which really helped me. I also had no-one I could talk to about how I was feeling, it would have been my Mum I talked to. It can feel a very lonely place to be. I still feel lonely at times now as no-one can take the place of my Mum.

I also struggle with anxiety. I have taken anti-depressants for short periods of time when I’ve felt completely overwhelmed & scared. I remember crying in front of my doctor and telling her I was so scared. When she asked me what I was scared of \i couldn’t tell her.

I manage my anxiety now through diet, exercise and meditation. I have to be quite disciplined about it as if I’m not I can feel my anxiety levels rise.

Things do improve, slowly, but they do. It might be a good idea to see your GP. There are many different ways to support you & it’s important to find the one that is right for you.

Take care. Trudy x

Oh Cate

I have tears streaming down my face reading this. You are on the same road I am but further along and it scares me to hear how much pain you are in. I hope I can help only in so much as to realise you are not the only person dealt this really difficult set of cards so I really do understand. Xx

My story is so similar. My dad died in May 2018 then 6 weeks later my mum was given 6 weeks to live with terminal cancer. She ignored the prognosis and is just about still hanging on now. I cared for her at home for 9 months but she is now in a nursing home which was her request. I was always Daddy’s little girl but I haven’t had a second to grieve for him properly as I have been focusing on my mum. I too am an only child and nobody can really understand the intensity of that relationship and the loss when we are left alone. Even though I have not completely lost my mum yet, I feel like my foundations have been taken away from me. I am sure you feel the same.

I too will be financially fine but it is amazing how little comfort money does give. Don’t get me wrong, I am so greatful that that is a worry I won’t have but I would pay anything to have my parents healthy again. I am 42 and so jealous of those who have their parents in their life for a much longer time.

I feel like I haven’t got time for anxiety yet but sure it will hit me down the road. I don’t want to take tablets so I try to get to bed on time, go to yoga once a week and post regularly on here. All these things help a little bit. I have turned to comfort eating too much too but not got the energy to stop yet…

The other thing I do is remind myself what my mum and dad would want me to do. I know what it is because my mum tells me. They would want me to be happy. Do nice things. Go to nice places and remember the good times of which I am so greatful there are so many. I am sure your parents would want the same for you?

I do hope you keep posting. You are not alone. Xx

Ann x