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AdoraBelle Dearheart

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After a lot of heavy and deeply emotional discussion and amazing support from people here after losing both my parents in 2023, I made this now extremely long and depressing thread in the last months of my mother's illness. I got so much invaluable advice and support there, thank you friends, and it was useful to be able to update that when I was too busy, frantic or depressed to respond to individual friends.

But it's both insanely long, depressing, and too much for even me to follow now, and has a lot of the depressing, panicked and negative essays from me, so I wanted to make a new thread to mark a new start, and means I won't have to keep returning to that thread, or making anyone else keep returning to it either.

Now that the funeral has passed, and I'm working on my mental health, on navigating the benefits system, therapy, working with Dr's, St Peter's Hospice social workers and emotional support, and on wait lists for therapy and some more practical help, I still have a lot of scary and intimidating stuff to do, and practical tasks relating to the house, probate etc. But I can't drown in that stuff 24/7. It's going to take months - even up a year or more to settle probate since both parents passed without wills, and I have a lot to do. But need self-care, and to indulge in hobbies and interests in order to maintain some balance and stay sane!

My tanks wound up really quite neglected over the last year or so, only getting their feeding and weekly W/Cs for a long time, and in the last months of mum's life, not enough water changed often enough either, and I lost some fish. :( But I've gradually been increasing the water changes and tanks (and fish) looking a lot better than they were, but I have plans for setting up spare tanks I have, transferring stock, and making them lovely again! I'm obviously on a very limited budget, but I already have several (second hand) tanks, spare equipment, substrate of a few kinds, hardscape etc, and I'll be hunting for bargain plants/trading with other hobbyists where I can once it comes time to plant them up, along with transferring the few remaining plants I have.

So I just wanted a new thread to share that journey. :) Keep friends and any lurkers who've been following along updated, get advice and inspiration, any helpful tips etc. I'm not ready yet to make a journal thread for any of the tanks, but will later snatch photos of the two currently set up tanks, and the current plan(s), which of course are subject to change. But it's nice to have something positive to focus on, and I've missed the hobby, sharing with people here, and learning from them, and helping out others when I can. So in between paperwork and battling government institutions and mental health issues, diving back into this wonderful hobby will give me another positive thing to focus on as I rebuild my life along with the tank rebuilds. โ™ฅ๏ธ

Edited to fix typos
 
When I had/have those times... where I couldn't face getting out of bed, or it took me all day to only get the basics of caring for parents and pets done, but didn't have the strength, mental energy or motivation to do anything else for myself, or to face the debts, I'd blame myself, blame the depression, since it famously causes a lack of energy and motivation, and berate myself for not just dealing with it like an adult.

I've battled depression my whole life. But I'd always been able to remain functional enough pre-breakdown to work, study, live alone and manage my finances, have a social life etc. Depression does sap your energy and motivation, absolutely. But I went on anti-anxiety/antidepressant meds when needed, made lifestyle changes to diet and activity levels, leaned on friends, and always managed to remain functional enough, even if I had short stretches of "I don't even have the energy or will to get out of bed, and just want to withdraw and hid away from the world."

But post-breakdown, it was so much worse. And when my benefits were cut so I could no longer afford the expenses for my flat, let alone anything else, I didn't just withdraw from friends and activities, but withdrew from the whole world, and couldn't face opening mail with demand letters for money I knew I didn't have a hope of being able to pay, and wasn't nearly well enough to return to work either. So I stopped opening mail too. Got quite a phobia and panic attacks when I did try and deal with it.

In therapy and post-breakdown, there was talk of PTSD. I'd never had panic attacks or agoraphobia prior to some of those traumas, so something had definitely changed - and when I read up more about PTSD, I wondered if mine was an avoidant type. I avoided romantic relationships of any kind, became quite hopeless of any kind of recovery, then began avoiding dealing with the outside world altogether, beyond my family and closest friends. I pulled myself together just enough to care for my parents as they were aging, dad broke his hip, then passed away and mum needed my help more than ever. But previously, I'd resigned myself to being "too broken" to ever recover, and that once my parents didn't need me anymore, I'd opt out. Didn't feel like a deserved any more help, since it hadn't been working in recent years, had zero self worth or confidence left, and depression also saps a lot of the joy and colour from the world, so you don't find pleasure in things you used to enjoy.

I thought the "avoiding the post and demand phone calls/emails etc might be an avoidant PTSD reaction, or the depression, and only beat myself up even more for not just facing it and dealing with it, and letting things pile up and get worse. But this video paints it in a new light, for me.


Now, anyone can make a youtube video, and there's a lot of self-help bunkum out there. But this is a licensed psychologist with a doctorate, and what he's saying makes absolute sense when I've studied psychology and the rapidly growing fields of neuroscience and psychobiology. I've long been aware of the amygdala's part to play in "fight, flight, fawn or freeze" responses, how it can hijack the brain in life or death situations, and is also involved in PTSD. I had not realised the way it pulls resources from the frontal lobes in order to do that - so when it's activated because of chronic, long term stress and what I'd described as feeling "stuck" or "frozen", no matter how important it was that I get up and do something, that sometimes made it even more paralysing, and only made me berate myself more.

The fact that it's not a choice, or being lazy/an idiot/broken beyond repair, or all the other things I tell myself - but that my amygdala is literally shutting down my frontal lobes and executive function - made a lot click into place. The very things you need in order to prioritise tasks, face difficult conversations, get yourself and other things organised - are all in your frontal lobes. Your higher thinking. You can't use those effectively while the amygdala is hogging all of the brain's resources and subconsciously screaming at you to freeze, your life is in immediate danger. And the tendency to beat myself up and try to push through it makes it worse, not better. When trying to push through it, I've described it as being like trying to move through treacle, or wading through a thick fog. It makes so much more sense to me now, why it feels as though your brain is shutting down when you're feeling stuck like that, but have an overwhelming list of difficult tasks to get through.

I also like the analogy of comparing it to potty training a puppy! Being a dog person, with a psych studies background, that makes some sense to me, even though I have a very hard time giving myself credit for anything. I always compare myself to when I was at my most functional, when I was a really good support worker, could clean the house in one day, get a lot of things done, while maintaining a life of my own. So I find it hard to praise myself or give myself credit, and when people tell me I'm handling things well, or how well I'm doing under the circumstances, I tend to internally dismiss that as them just being nice and trying to encourage the crazy lady not to break down again!

But I have to change those internal messages in order to regain that functionality. I did manage to organise both funerals with no real help, did look after mum and dad up until the end, and the rest is paperwork and hoop jumping. I can do that too. A bit at a time, leaning on professionals for help as much as I can, and accepting the help and social support from neighbours and friends!

Getting back into the hobby is a part of that. I didn't want to give it up, but had to backburner it while caring for mum. But we all need hobbies and interests, I have most of the expensive stuff already, so it can still be done on a budget, and it's also part of overhauling this long neglected house that desperately needs sorting through, and every room needs redecorating and some home repairs.

Setting up 'new; tanks that I have sitting around empty so I can transfer stock and get rid of the ancient 57g that dad set up decades ago will be part of that. I'll also be moving to the master bedroom, although the carpet needs ripping up first due to mum's health and accidents... I'm hoping since the house was built in the 20s, there will be good floorboards underneath that I can sand, stain and varnish. Then the downstairs room I've been using can be turned into an office/guest room, so I can get and keep all the paperwork organised. Lots of big projects that can feel overwhelming, but can be broken down and done a bit at a time! Especially if I can give myself credit for the things I have managed to do, get my amygdala to calm down and let my executive function actually work!
 
hEY cRAZY lADY, tAkEs OnE tO kNoW oNe :)

Maybe you could breed fish and sell them to shops to help pay for the animal food and accessories. Move all the tanks into the same room to help with maintenance and heating. Insulate the tanks or room or both if you can. Breed something that sells and use the fish as a partial income to help pay for itself.
 
Ya, birds can be touchy. I use no chlorine cleaners or ammonia. Even my glass cleaner is ammonia free. Even essential oils and some scented candles can be harmful.
 
Not getting much useful advice or help from Citizen's Advice right now. The old man who I've spoken with a few times seems pretty ineffective and useless, saying they can help with all sorts of things, I just have to "do this, this and this" first - when the "this, this and this" are the very things I'm telling him I'm terrified of and struggling to do. Or asking if the St Peter's Hospice people can help me with those things, when they don't have nearly the pull nor resources of CAB.

Discouraged from his phone call today... but I'll figure it out somehow.
 
Maybe try calling a different Citizen's Advice Bureau or call at a different time of day. Hopefully you get to talk to someone else who might have different ideas.

Another option is a community law centre. They usually do 20 minute consults for a lot less than a normal lawyer and sometimes they give you free consultation/s if you are on a pension or low income.

Maybe hop on a law forum and see if they have any advice.
 
After we talked in circles for a while and I got more frustrated, I could feel a panic attack coming on, and took a diazepam. But since I've been on them for months now, I've developed a tolerance to the dosage and they're less effective at calming that panic reaction than they used to be. I'm not addicted, mis-using or dependent on having them, and discussed this with my doc last week, and began tapering my dose this week, but means I'm struggling a bit more with my emotional reactions and panic attacks, which are exhausting.


When he'd basically told me to just do what I'm struggling to do before they can help me, and he'd call again in three to four weeks, I went fully into a panic attack, and had to do breathing and grounding exercises to calm myself enough to talk again. I said it couldn't wait for a month, lots of this stuff is urgent and I'm getting stuck wading through it all, plus the benefits system, but I needed to get off the phone now, and could someone else from CAB help me sooner than that? He said yes, I went to animals and outside to calm myself and breathe through the panic attack. but it leaves you so tired and confused sometimes. So that mood and worry has dragged on all day, and while I've procrastinated and done some other sorting and organising, I haven't done the main and most urgent tasks bothering me.

An hour or so later, a woman from CAB called me, and had obviously read notes about my history and what I needed help with, and she was much better. She'll be checking in weekly, told me not to stress over it, just bit at a time, baby steps when I can face it, we can do a face to face appointment when I'm ready (because of agoraphobia/panic attacks in public & stressful situations).

She was more empathetic and understanding of why I'm so overwhelmed by it all, reminded me that mum only just passed away Christmas Day and the funeral last week, so no one expects me to be fully functioning, super organised and focused administrator type person already.
 
See if you can deal with the lady who phoned you back, she sounds like a better option and more helpful, and just keep trudging away. It's going to take a long time to sort this mess out. When you feel stressed, take a break, grab Pixie and go for a walk, then come home have something to eat, watch a movie and go to bed. Look at the papers the next day and try to do a bit more then.
 
Still feeling the after effects somewhat after yesterdays panic attacks - it just exhausted me, and meant I couldn't face some of the scariest tasks, but I did get some more household stuff done, took the advice from the CAB lady, St Peter's social worker, you guys @Colin_T and @Essjay and tried to take it easy on myself, not beat myself up, and just focus on baby steps and taking a break when needed. So I got an early night too.

Felt better today, even if still tired and a bit unfocused, but this morning I still managed to face calling the bank about settling the funeral invoices, guy was super nice and helpful, so I also got those invoices sent off to the bank, and left a message for mum's funeral director to call me back when he's free so I can let them know, and sort out when to collect mum's things/memorial pendent with her fingerprint, and ashes - still need to get a double urn, but I also emailed the previous company to let them know I'd sent their invoices to the bank, and give my written permission for them to transfer dad's ashe's to the co-op who have mum's ashes. So when we do finally have a double urn, they can transfer both mum and dad's ashes into it for us.

Called Tesco clubcard to update my address, new phone number, and newer email.

Filled out an application online for our local British Heart Foundation furniture store to come and collect several pieces of saleable furniture we don't want or need, plus some boxes and bags of books/clothing/etc, but that others might get use from, and that will clear some space, and motivate me to clear out mum's wardrobe, pack the things I'm keeping and bag the rest for donation, rags, or recycling, and give us more room to work around the other stuff. Looks as though from the form, that they'll be able to collect the items (for free!) on the 26th or 27th.

So that's not a bad list ticked off for today so far, right? :)

Weather has cleared up, so going to chat with brother and let him know which items are being collected/potentially when (he'd already agreed that he doesn't want those pieces either), see what he has planned over the next few working days, and give him some jobs to do if he doesn't have anything in planned, then going for a quick shower, then take Pixie for a nice long walk now it's not tipping with rain, and drop some thank you cards in neighbours doors. :)
 
Did a lot more sorting and organising, tried to have a productive day and just settled down for the evening with the puppers, and suddenly hit with being unable to stop crying. Grief, berating myself for how much there is to do, everything I neglected to do before, thinking I'm bugging or a burden on others.

That I'm an idiot that people tolerate just to be nice to me. Out of pity.

That I'm not a proper functioning grown up, and should just be able to handle all this.

My head is killing me, absolute agony of a headache, and loathing myself now.
 
Where's my newspaper. Do I have to whack you on the head again? :werewolf:

It's normal to be stressed over this stuff. I lose the plot here all the time due to what's going on here. I have a good cry, kill a heap of insects, take my blood pressure pills so I don't have another stroke or heart attack, watch a dvd and fall asleep in my chair.

You have good days and bad days. Most of the time I wake up feeling like crap and can't do anything except sit in the chair. Other days when I have had more sleep and not been woken up by the pita dog or birds next door, I might mop the floor, water the plants or check the mail.

It's just a stressful irritating time for both of us (you and I) and we just have to keep slogging through it bit by bit. You managed to get a heap done a couple of days ago and organised for the charity to come and get some stuff. That's a huge step forward. The next day wasn't as good. When I go shopping I am exhausted by the time I have come home and unpacked the car. I am exhausted for several days after that and don't do anything except sit in the chair. At least you are getting outside with Pixie each day and that will help you a lot mentally and physically.

Every day is not going to be a good day. Some days will be bad, others sort of ok, and occasionally you get a good day. It's a matter of trying to keep eating well, exercising every day for a couple of hours if you can, and do a bit of cleaning here and there. Over time you hopefully have more good days and fewer bad days.
 
Don't be so hard on yourself, life ain't for sissies you know! You've been through so much in a short amount of time...there's a lot for you to process and work through emotionally and some days are going to be harder than others. Keep going gal, you're doing alright ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป
 
Don't be so hard on yourself, life ain't for sissies you know! You've been through so much in a short amount of time...there's a lot for you to process and work through emotionally and some days are going to be harder than others. Keep going gal, you're doing alright ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

Thanks and hugs!

Just grief hitting me hard this week. Getting some stuff done, but a lot involves uncovering buried memories and other painful losses, so I needed that sobbing session, even though I hate breaking down and crying, tend to think it's my MI, even when it's a perfectly normal response to losing both parents and having to sort through their belongings and childhood home.

Taking dog out now to shops with bro, more stuff to charity shops, more thank you cards posted through doors and Royal Mail, then Pix and I will carry on to a park so she can get some off-lead running and sniffing time!

I look a mess, but don't care what other people think of me right now.
 
It's normal to be stressed over this stuff. I lose the plot here all the time due to what's going on here. I have a good cry, kill a heap of insects, take my blood pressure pills so I don't have another stroke or heart attack, watch a dvd and fall asleep in my chair.

You have good days and bad days. Most of the time I wake up feeling like crap and can't do anything except sit in the chair. Other days when I have had more sleep and not been woken up by the pita dog or birds next door, I might mop the floor, water the plants or check the mail.

It's just a stressful irritating time for both of us (you and I) and we just have to keep slogging through it bit by bit. Y

I'm sorry for everything you're going through as well - and I know some of what you've gone through, and the fact you're still here, and still such a help and support for others, testifies to how strong you are, and how you have to just keep going. Thank you. I hope you have more good days than bad, and if you ever need to vent not on the open forum, my pms are always open. :)
Don't be so hard on yourself, life ain't for sissies you know! You've been through so much in a short amount of time...there's a lot for you to process and work through emotionally and some days are going to be harder than others. Keep going gal, you're doing alright

Thank you! This is why I love Northerners! Straight talking, but with a kindly tone and good, solid advice!
One of my closest friends for years was from Lincolnshire - it's very flat! Surprised me since my city is built on hills :lol:

Then my best friend of more than 20 years now (gah we're so old now!) is from Derbyshire, and is an amazing support, but will also give me a kick up the butt when needed, in a caring way! Works a treat.

Then 2 other friends much further North... it's just wound up that the people I've wound up being closest too have been Northerners. :friends:

So I got a couple more big tasks ticked off this morning - talked to someone at the government department for probate and got some info from a woman there, then called an estate agent about getting a valuation of the house which we'll need for probate. Apparently it's easily done, doesn't even need to come to house as an estimate is okay, and will email it to me, for free! Awesome.

Then a little more organising and writing thank you cards, and went up the road with my bro, Pixie, and a shopping trolley and bag of stuff for the charity shop - St Peter's Hospice of course! It happens to be the closest one, but also St Peter's helped mum and are still supporting us. For mum's funeral I asked for donations for St Peter's Hospice in lieu of flowers. Need to take that into the store soon to donate it and get a receipt for the records.

Because of my agoraphobia/anxiety, I haven't been going into stores besides a few times with my friend (I'm better if someone is with me, and especially when I have Pix with me). Getting out of the house can sometimes be a mental hurdle, but it's not "the outside" or open spaces that bother me. If I was in the countryside, I'd be out all day, every day! It's crowds, and being trapped somewhere, or being in a crowd of strangers that can bring on a panic attack, which is awful to go through, and worse if in front of a load of strangers, embarrassing. But the only way to get over it is to keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and facing the fear.

Bro went in and donated the stuff while I waited outside with Pix, then he held Pix outside while I went in to browse, and got a few things. Treated myself! Plus a toy for Pix. Meanwhile, Pixie hates if I go inside somewhere and she's left with someone else. She was staring at me with her tail up and not too worried while I was still at the front and she could see me and smiled at her and mouthed reassurance (she reads faces and body language incredibly well) but when I went to the back of the store to check out the books and jewellery, I could hear her whining, so tried to hurry but had a few things to pay for.

In the past when she was younger she would always go nuts if I had to go inside somewhere dogs weren't allowed - she's strain and pull so hard, and was pretty strong for a medium sized dog! When my bestie, Will and I go on outings with the dogs and I have to nip in somewhere to use the bathroom or something and leave her with him, she used to pull his arm off and go crazy, then go even more crazy and drag him as she desperately tries to get back to me, and leap all over me as though she hasn't seen me in years!

I love that she's very much my dog and has been since day one, but there are downsides! I should have done more training with her to get her to calm, settle and wait. But she's not so bad now she's 11.

Photo break! The gorgeous ex-racer Greyhound Cody with his dad, my besty at the flat I had before moving back to care for folks.
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Jack behind Pixie when she was around 18 months, her full feathering didn't come in until she was two.




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Didn't mind the santa oufit, but not at all happy about the hood part! :lol:
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When I went to the counter to pay, the two ladies were oohing and aahing over Pix outside being so anxious to come in, and I said yes, sorry, that's my dog and she hates when I come into a shop without her, and they instantly said "bring her in!" I asked if they were sure, and they were enthusiastic about saying yes, so I bought her in and tried to keep her away from the clothes and things, but she was hyper to see me and panting from the anxiety of the separation (for five minutes!!), and as soon as the shop ladies came to make a fuss over her she did a full body shake! I said sorry, the hair, ya know, and they didn't care, were busy telling Pixie she's beautiful and a sweetie, so she has new fans now. ๐Ÿ˜…

Then I quickly popped into the post office for stamps and some more file folders, dividers etc for organising paperwork, and happy to find masking tape and parcel tape too - for the decorating plans, and I ran out of parcel tape, but have to pack stuff to store or donate. Pix was at least calmer for that one. Then left bro to get the shopping while I took Pix to the park so she could run off lead, meet other people and dogs (met a stunning fluffy black collie and his owner was nice too. Like a lot of dog people, we often wind up fussing over each others dogs, asking all about them, and chatting dog stuff as we stroll and the dogs get some running time and play!

We've had a lot of rain recently though - need wellies for walking there, it's a boggy swampland right now, which Pixie doesn't mind at all. She aims for puddles to leap through and wade around in, has a good roll to make sure she's properly coated, then pushes through the hedges to check for pheasants (just in case! And no luck yet) so she was a filthy, bedraggled, slimy mess, next to this stunning, clean and fluffy Border Collie, haha, but she loves doing it so much, and I like her to be able to just be a dog. Practice the behaviours that come naturally to her, even if it's more work for me. ;)

So straight into the bath when we got home which she dislikes, but tolerates with lots of snoot kisses and a good massage to work the shampoo into that double coat. She hasn't done this for a long time, and didn't get restless which usually tells me she's thinking of jumping out (she used to jump in and out herself as a youngster and it was easy for her, but when she reached about 8 and vet said she had slight arthritis, I began lifting her in and out, and try to gently discourage the huge leaps and jumping onto/over things... she doesn't realise her own age! And sometimes makes a huge leap that scares me to death).

I'd worked shampoo into everywhere but her back legs and tail, lots of shampoo and has to be really worked in to get her white bits whitish again, to reach the skin, and help dead hair come out of the coat, then while I was working shampoo into her tail, she suddenly leapt with no warning out of the bath, knocking over the wooden laundry bin, and I instinctively managed to grab her as she landed, thankfully, between me and the bath, but I was really scared she might have hurt or broken a leg as she landed half on the floor, half on the knocked over laundry bin.

Bro heard the thud and came to see if I needed help, bless him, which isn't easy 'cos it's a tiny bathroom. Checked Pixie over while mentally thinking of who might be available to help drive us to an emergency vet, but nothing broken and so far (touch wood) she seems fine, but I'll be watching closely for any signs of a limp over the next few days. Then I felt like a mother, because I told her off for doing a stupid and dangerous thing that could have hurt her, and frightening me, while also cooing over her and checking her over and asking if she's okay! I'm my mother's daughter, for sure.

Since she was thoroughly full of shampoo, lifting her back in was a bit tricky, but managed it and bro came and stayed near her head so he could fuss her and make sure she didn't try that again while I finished shampooing her and then rinsing it all out. So she didn't love her bath, and I was a muddy, soapy, soaking wet mess, as is the bathroom, but as soon as it's over, the usual hyper zoomies kicked it! She is hyper excited and running around, while running back to me to be towel dried and roll around in a super happy state. She doesn't like the blowdryer as much, but gotta get those arthritic legs and long ears with their folds properly dry, and she's so soft and fluffy after! ๐Ÿ˜

I have to get more photos of her when she's clean and groomed! 99% of the photos I take of her is when we're out and she's wet, muddy and bedraggled. The natural state for a Springer. Then she had a snooze, tired out from all the excitement while I cleaned up the messy bathroom and took a shower myself, then fed Pixie and gave her the unicorn fluffy toy I'd picked up in the charity shop for her, which she loved, then immediately took to my bed to rip it to shreds, and go back to sleep. :lol:

She really needs a good groom and hair trim now, but she hates being groomed, is really tired since we were out for over two hours plus the extra anxiety and excitement of going to the shops and her bath, so going to let her sleep and do it later or tomorrow.

Getting tired myself, but the good kind, and I'm so glad I went, it was good. :)๐Ÿถ
 

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Just grief hitting me hard this week. Getting some stuff done, but a lot involves uncovering buried memories and other painful losses, so I needed that sobbing session, even though I hate breaking down and crying, tend to think it's my MI, even when it's a perfectly normal response to losing both parents and having to sort through their belongings and childhood home.
<hugs> Just know that grief comes in waves. Sometimes it comes out of nowhere years later and knocks you on your you know what. I've learned, slowly and painfully, not to fight the waves so hard and just let the feelings happen. It's hard, so hard, to lose your parents, especially after having to care for them and seeing them as ... well, the opposite of parents.
Taking dog out now to shops with bro, more stuff to charity shops, more thank you cards posted through doors and Royal Mail, then Pix and I will carry on to a park so she can get some off-lead running and sniffing time!

I look a mess, but don't care what other people think of me right now.
Good for you! Keep walking the dog; it'll help both of you!
 

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