Smug mode …

One of the things I’ve been trying to do since lockdown eased is continue walking for an hour each day. Unfortunately, I’m coming up against the usual problem which is that post lock down is back to busy holidays mode and I don’t really have time to walk for an hour each day. As a result I’ve been trying to incentivise myself by listening to podcasts.

Last week, I listened to Joanna Penn’s interview with Marion Roach (episode 496) about writing memoir. In the preamble, she talked about experiencing feelings of tiredness, possibly even exhaustion. She explained that she’d looked it up and discovered that there is a phenomenon called lock down fatigue.

As I understood it, the gist of this goes as follows; while things are opening up and people are able to get out again, there is an increased sense of danger. So on the one hand, your social well being is probably increased. On the other, your limbic system doesn’t really know the difference between the danger posed by a stalking tiger and the knowledge that if you get COVID:19 you might die, or might not. The whole Russian roulette nature of the thing is classed by your limbic system as ‘danger’. This, in turn, means that whether or not you actually notice, your fight or flight centre is at heightened awareness. Think of it as amber alert.

The theory is that this constant state of readiness on the part of your limbic system makes you feel tired, whether you consciously realise it is in action or not. Other symptoms include struggling with memory, lethargy, having difficulty concentrating … there’s a pretty good potted summary of the main points here. The main gist of it is that the limbic system regards mere worry as a danger. As I listened to this, I suddenly had a bit of a penny dropping moment.

I’ve been worried about my father, and then my mother for a good fourteen years but certainly in earnest since 2012. 2012 was the year I had shingles and sought help dealing with the fact that I would not be looking after my parents the way I had expected to. After a fair amount of CBT I got to the point where I could cope. Add to this long term arthritic pain, which, in itself is thought to stimulate your limbic system to think danger and fog your thinking. Now throw in hormones, some people going through the menopause also get brain fog – both peri and post menopause (I’ve no idea which I am on the peri/post front but the brain fog was the clincher in actually diagnosing it).

Or to put it another way. I’ve had lockdown fatigue for the past eight years.

And with that realisation came a whole load of secondary ones. I realised that I probably don’t have dementia – if I had it when I thought I did, at the start, and I’d followed the same path as Dad I’d be at the shouty sex pest stage by now. So clearly, while I could have segued seamlessly into the early stages by now, without noticing, it’s most likely a no for the moment. That’s quite a relief.

Then there’s the mental exhaustion. I have been on the brink of burnout, and suffering mental exhaustion for at least eight years. OK, so that is a massive pisser in many respects, but at the same time, a sustained situation like that means that coping mechanisms are already learned and lock down is merely more of the same. Most likely, there is another eight years or so to go but once Mum gets to the lying in bed stage, or reaches the point where visits are really hard and she doesn’t have much idea who I am, I will probably cut the visits to once a fortnight, maybe even once a month. It will be easier this time with just the patient to consider. Some of the hardest things to deal with about Dad was seeing Mum’s distress and trying to support her through it all as well.

The single most wonderful thing about lockdown was not having to disrupt my momentum mid week. There is a lot of shite in my life which I can’t ditch, but there is a lot that I can. I’ve decided I will ditch that. Also, I think I will see if I can be referred privately to see a knee surgeon. I want to know all the alternatives which are available to me. There are people in the US with severe arthritis who are already having stem cell treatment. Here in the UK there is very little of that kind of thing available.

There is also the option of a partial replacement. I’m not sure the NHS even does those. They are still in a situation where they can only do two knee replacements so they prefer to wait until you are desperate. The idea is that one replacement only lasts x number of years so if the first implant goes wrong you may be in a wheelchair if it’s done too early. However, since I will definitely be in a wheelchair if I have to wait until I’m sixty, I’d rather do the wheelchair bit aged 70 or so than … well … sometime in the next couple of years. So my target now is to persuade the NHS, while, at the same time, saving up £20 grand for a knee op in case the NHS refuses. Hopefully, it wouldn’t cost that but I suspect all the preceding appointments, x-rays etc might up the cost a bit. I haven’t checked if the figures I’ve read are all in. So yeh, this week, I am mostly looking at, knee replacement costs.

Finally sent off my W8-BEN to Barnes & Noble. As far as I can see, if you have an EIN you use that where other folks would use an SSN (social security number). That checked, I’ve filled in the form, here’s hoping it works. Presumably I’ll hear from B&N when they receive it and They will soon tell me whether I have got it wrong or not. More on that story as it unfolds.

Have just been for a night with Mum to get this nipper together with his cousins. That was fun and involved going to the beach, even though it was not that warm. It was windy though, and they had a kite so McMini and I flew that while others swam.

Other cheerful news. I finished my first novel in 5 years. This is a major achievement. OK so it isn’t great but it’s 75k and it isn’t that awful so I’m hopeful I can turn it into something some people might enjoy reading. The only thing I have to decide now is if I’m going to write another short in the interim to be ‘Too Good To Be True’ and call this one something else.

Ah the joy of simple decisions.


Talking of simple decisions, if you want to try out one of my books feel free to have a look at this one. I’m afraid you’ll have to sign up to my mailing list – otherwise I can’t send it to you – but it’s not a problem if you unsubscribe afterwards! To find out more go here:


Filed under General Wittering

14 responses to “Smug mode …

  1. Having been in lockdown for over thirty years BEFORE the pandemic started, I claim major lockdown fatigue.

    Getting old is not for sissies. I go along one day at a time, dealing with what gets thrown at me, reduced as that is from what healthier folk have to deal with.

    My four sisters in Mexico, acting in concert, were there for our parents – and I am forever grateful for them, their work, and their ability to keep the five of us as a loving family despite all that had to be done.

    I try not to be too negative when other people complain about the limitations imposed by a world-wide pandemic with a very catchy virus – but I have fatigue about that, too: the compassion and understanding has been very limited as I dealt with something similar, and I have nothing left to help them with theirs. It’s called payback. Or karma.

    I hope we all emerge from this, and can go back, preferably to something improved by having its underside so completely examined.

    I don’t know if that will happen, as demonstrated by those who went back to irresponsible behavior immediately any restrictions were relaxed.

    But I hope I have learned something.

  2. Congratulations on getting to ‘The End’ … now comes the fun part. 🙂

    … the brain-fog and fatigue are very real and very horrible. 😦

    • Thanks so far I’m enjoying the first edit. As for the tree effs. Yeh aren’t they just? I’m feeling I may be taking to a fellow sufferer. 😁 I hope not but if you are you have all my sympathy.

  3. Well done with working it all out. You’ve given me a few clues as to why I suddenly had toothache. Not as bad as the nightmare of about five years ago, but same type. It’s real enough, and swollen or painful gums around the tooth’ causing it, but the upper ones as well. A bit of bonjela on those gums, some Ibuprofen to reduce swelling inside, and through cleaning, and I’m back to normal. Reason? Almost certainly teeth clenching at night – I also noticed I’d got bad dreams again, so it all connects.
    But at least my move is finished as far as the emotions go. I’ll be writing about solving the pain with a new desk for my IWSG post next month!
    Good luck with all the rest of your stuff.

    • PS Sorry about missed typos. Cataract is definitely worse. Trying to find out if anyone is actually doing cataract surgery yet…

      • The first is out and has actually sold copies! The second is waiting for my voice artist to redo something with the last two files he finished, which don’t meet the tech reqs. But he said he’s looking forward to the third book!

        ACX have a disheartening notice up about extended time for approval because of Covid-19. Partly more books being submitted as people find time to do them, and partly even fewer staff to check them. Sigh.

      • Yippee. Great stuff. I hear you about ACX. They’re a pain but glad it’s going well and that the narrator likes them. 😁👍

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