My head is full and my heart is heavy

My head is full and my heart is heavy

“My head is full and my heart is heavy”. This was the only way I could describe how I am feeling to my husband this morning. Full, heavy, weighed down, overwhelmed.

I know that so many people are going through tough times right now, the air feels full of worry and stress, like when you get off a plane in a hot country and you can’t catch your breath. No matter how many deep breaths you take, you can’t seem to get enough oxygen. It is trapped and smothered by anxious thoughts and mild panic.

I wish I could pin point what is making me feel this way, but nothing is ever that black and white is it? It is the many shades of grey inbetween that dissolve the colours of life. Turning the technicolour of glorious life into an old, scratchy black and white movie. I am hopeful for the day that I will step into Oz and my eyes will see colour again.

I have a lot going on, the continuing saga of life with chronic illness, the stupid bloody hernias that haunt me. Then I slipped a disc in my back a few weeks ago that left me bed ridden for a week, it is better but still causing jip. I have a lingering UTI that I am fairly certain is ignoring the antibiotics and just sticking to the stress and keeping warm in my bladder. My awesome daughter left for university a few weeks ago and I miss them dreadfully. My eldest son has moved home with his lovely fiancé whilst they are between houses, my youngest has started college and a new job. Then there is the ‘stuff’, you know work, study, chores, food shopping, cooking, cleaning, walking the dog, taking the cat to the vet weekly as she has damaged her ligaments in her leg, sometimes it all just feels a bit overwhelming.

I feel like running away. I would happily take my husband, kids and friends with me on this escape. But man, life is a lot isn’t it.

I am usually a glass half full person, I can find the silver linings even in the shittiest of clouds. And I do still feel like I am that person. But everything just feels very full at the minute.

A friend told me of a story about a flower that droops and withers, no matter how much it tries to find the sun. And there comes a point where you have to stop blaming the flower for failing to thrive but look at the environment it is in. Without nutrient rich soil, sun and water, the flower will always struggle no matter how cheerful it tries to be.

Now, I know I am extremely lucky and privileged in many ways. I have a nice home that is safe, warm and mine. I have a great husband, kids and friends. I have money in the bank and I am not (too!) stressed about paying my mortgage or bills this month or next. I have food in the fridge and an oven to cook in. I am luckier than most people in the world.

But years of poor health and the mental health struggles it has brought with it has worn me down.

I know I choose to fill my days, I take on things that I probably shouldn’t because I have to prove to myself that I am here and valid and ‘normal’. That I can work and study and do extra projects because ‘this illness won’t stop me!’ And honestly, I love a lot of what I do. But right now, today, my head is full and my heart is heavy.

I want to simplify my life, remove the stuff that I do mindlessly, that wastes time and causes me sadness (instagram reels, news, scrolling through endless hateful internet comments). I am reading a book at the minute called Homesick – why I live in a shed by Catrina Davies about consumerism and simplifying your life and your surroundings.

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, either immediately or in the long run.

Henry David Thoreau

She quotes Walden by Henry David Thoreau when she reminds us of how it is quicker to walk anywhere than it is to work to pay for the ticket to arrive in style. And this simplifying of life feels very attractive to me right now.

I look at the waste produced each week by me and my family, the stack of boxes plied awaiting recycling collection from the crap we have bought over the internet from companies that don’t give a shit about the environment or the people who work for them. I see the monthly outgoings that seems to get more each month. I feel the weight of the possessions I have collected over my lifetime. And I kind of wish it would just all disappear. That I could live more simply, smaller yet more connected, connected to people I love, to community, to good, to nature, to creativity.

Perhaps it is that I turned 40 this year and suddenly feel the rush of the years gone by and realise how quickly the next 40 years will go. And I wonder how the things we do, the things we buy, the need to live in a bigger house, a better area, whether these things become the chain that holds us back.

If I could snap my fingers, my life would look different. I would live by the sea, close to nature, I would swim and walk and grow vegetables, tend to my chickens. I would throw away my phone and just use one to actually speak to the people I love, I would untether myself from the tangle of social media. I would live in a little house in the woods with my husband, buying little, creating much and feeling more connected to the earth.

Then I wonder what is stopping me?

As I sit here, taking tablet after tablet of the medication that keeps me going, I do start to wonder if I changed my lifestyle, would I improve my heath, my stress.

I wonder how to make my head less full and my heart less heavy.

I wonder if now is the time to make some changes.

Peace and love

Sam xx

6 replies
  1. Carol Floyd
    Carol Floyd says:

    Hi Sam I have just read your story and can sympathise with you as I am where you are and have been for many years. We have always wished we could move away from this hectic materialistic world get back to the simple life living in the country in a small home enjoying nature. But there has has always been something stopping us first disrupting the children’s schooling then my health cancer then both my children had Cancer and needed me all three of us have had Cancer twice. I am in the same boat as you ileostomy hernia and have had operation on my back my youngest son is just going through stage 4Cancer and has just been given an ileostomy so are thoughts about moving again have been put on the back boiler. The difference is I am going to be 70yrs old in to months so life is passing me by but you are still young so if you get the chance take it as the longer you put it off the harder it gets and soon you will end up like us leaving it to late. I hope you start to fill better soon and come to some kind of peace of mind. Xx

  2. Jane
    Jane says:

    Wow, you are so brave, so honest. I think your words will resonate with many.

    I am 20 years older than you and have a couple of chronic but invisible health issues which are nothing like the serious conditions that you deal with, but can be limiting nonetheless, so I hope (in a very small way) I can empathise and sympathise. It is hard when where we are and what we can do does not match the picture of where we thought we would be.

    In respect of having too much stuff, everytime I come back from being in our campervan I look at the house and think “I don’t need all this **** ” but there are two of us and he does not want to live with less. But when I am in the mood for some decluttering which only affects me I look at stuff and think “would I replace this if [God forbid] there had been a fire”. When you know the answer is “I’d never replace it” then you know you can get rid of the item. I hope that is useful. xx

  3. Claire
    Claire says:

    Hi Sam, Thank you for your bravery in sharing your thoughts so openly. It is greatly appreciated. I have an ileo-anal pouch and have been plagued with UTI’s over the years. I saw a specialist at the hospital last year two things: 1. Those who’ve had lots of surgery / IBD are prone to UTI’s, 2. He recommended taking a supplement called D-Mannose on a daily basis. This supplement has good quality research to prove it’s effectiveness in preventing /reducing UTI’s. (He said there isn’t much good quality research about the benefits of Cranberry supplements) I’ve used D-Mannose for the past year and whilst I still get UTI’s they’re not with the same frequency. It is available from Holland and Barrett (£!5/ for 30) or on AMazon for £15/for 60). I thought I’d share this info as I’ve found it really helpful. I hope today is a better day for you. Take care Claire

  4. Laura
    Laura says:

    Violence in the world, towards self, towards others, animals, birds, sealife, mining, consumerism, pollution from shipping, transportation. When leaders lie and hide things to us, that’s violence. Cyber-malware. When truth-tellers are jailed, that’s violence. There is a lot of work to be done to create a consistently non-violent world and it starts with each individual where ever we are doing what we can do, using our voices. Screw traditions. Screw political parties. Vote for individuals. Get laws changed and enforced.
    Health. For vegan food advice, I like Dr. Neal Barnard on YT. For information about lectins in vegetables, I take notes from Dr. Grundy S(YT) and ignore the click/selling parts. For 30 years, researchers have been studying the leaky gut connection but he’s the only one to talk about the problem.
    For spiritual help, revisit writings that brought comfort in the past. For me, I like the optimistic Jewish site, Chabad. Rabbi Manis Friedman is pragmatic and humorous. The sayings of Jesus in the Gospels of course. YT–some talks by Sadguru (yoga) are pleasant, funny. Intensity> Rabbi Alon Anava’s near death experience is amazing. If you liked the Matrix.
    Medical>>RX meds 2 avoid panic attacks are very helpful. Better than breathing into a paper bag.
    These are very very hard times. Small actions count for a lot. 15 minutes = 2 hours of effort.
    Other comforting things I do? View: Old mid-century movies. Rural art. Folk art. Read: Catholic: Dorothy Day, Little Flower. Jewish: the late Rebbe (Chabad)’s letters. Pretty much finding authentic voices even when I don’t agree with many of their notions.
    Lavish attention on pets.
    Avoid: I cook all meals (90% vegan & organic) but avoid washing the dishes, I’m afraid. Keeping sane so I can take care of my family. And email positive updates 2 my siblings who are also stressed.
    God bless.

  5. Nunya Bizniss ;)
    Nunya Bizniss ;) says:

    I’m definitely procrastinating on my homework right now, but I wanted to say that I just stumbled across your blog tonight and you are so thoroughly kindhearted and earnest that it makes me feel a little better about the world we live in. A few days ago I had a meltdown in the middle of the night when I couldn’t fall asleep; on top of my stress from university I just felt so deeply distraught about climate change and the apparent apathy of the people around me that I couldn’t take it anymore. I ended up spamming my friends with some pretty nihilistic texts which I felt silly about in the morning, but one of them told me that even though she often feels shitty about the state of the world herself, she remembers how I always have hope and I always try to do something to make things better however I can, and it in turn gives her a little more hope for the future.

    I think that when we succumb to the desolation of the foul, lonely capitalist hell-society we live in, it’s because we have been tricked into thinking that we are solitary, that we are alone in our heads, and our thoughts and feelings have no effect on anyone but ourselves. But that’s not true, and when you are someone who strives to see the good in the world even when it’s hard to find, it will rub off on the people around you, and you just might be the person who is able to give them hope when they need it most, so that they can in turn do the same for you. I think that you are probably a source of hope for many more people than you believe, and no matter how small and worthless your efforts seem to be, you are helping to shine just a little bit more light into the darkness.


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