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- Page 5

  • One Month On...

    A couple of weeks back, I posted here about my experience of the horrid menopausal symptoms and the fact that my GP had prescribed low dose antidepressants to help with this.  I have hummed and hawed quite a lot about posting again on this topic, mostly because thus far I am having a less than pleasant time with the new drugs (according to my GP I am just one of those people who gets a lot of side effects) and also because I was warned it could take a couple of weeks for the initial effects to wear off and that I might feel worse before I felt better...

    So, the good bits... no more Ms 'Mardy Cow', irritable, grumpy and not nice to be around, and no more being awake most of the night.  I'd like to say no more night sweats and flushes but, after an initial improvement they've come back with a vengeance (this drug can cause as well as alleviate them!)

    The not so good bits... for the first few days, I was very nauseous and experienced some flu-like symptoms: shivers, headaches (I NEVER get headaches) and general bleurghness.  Thankfully that soon passed. I had a week of no appetite followed by a week of permanent hunger, that too seems to have settled down.

    However other side effects continue and show no sign of 'attenuating' (the technical term, evidently) as I near a month of swallowing the pills...

    Not being grumpy is good, but not feeling anything much is not: comedy doesn't make laugh, sad things don't make me sad, and most strikingly, my natural joy, awe and wonder have upped and left... Beautiful sunset, full moon, lovely flowers, cute kitten: so what... Not liking that at all!  Except I can't even not like...  it's very wierd!

    Sleeping better seemed great, until I found myself falling asleep at the drop of a hat, easily sleeping as much as 12 hours a day and never feeling refreshed or awake.  Lethargy looms large and it's only because I am someone with huge self-motivation, and that I have regular commitments, that I get on and do anything at all... it would be so easy to turn into a blob.

    Physically, I am as ever side effect prone... dry mouth (I'm getting through two glasses of water on a Sunday morning just to keep going), grinding teeth and some strange facial muscle twitches.

    Intellectually my concentration - which I was finally starting to feel had recovered - is impaired and I'm more forgetful again.

    So, what have I learned thus far...

    I had no clue about the impact of antidepressants on daily life, and now can glimpse just a bit of how hard life can be for someone with depression when the drugs can do this to you.  This is, I think, a good thing, it will give me greater understanding and empathy longer term.

    I am due to see my GP later this week for the one month review and I'm really not sure about carrying on with this drug, even though I don't want to go back to being Ms Mardy Cow.  Suggestions from others, who know far better than me, are that the current dose may be too high or too low, or that there may be an alternative drug that is 'cleaner'.

    In the meantime, it's practically impossible to annoy me, so feel free to make the most of it! ;-)

  • Surprisingly Liberating...

    My free weekend has seen me getting back to the decluttering exercise, sorting and giving away most of my sheet music and my recorders, rearranging my living room so that it is no longer buried under boxes of stuff waiting to be sorted or disposed of, and then this afternoon, sorting through my tool boxes, etc. to identify which things I actually might use and which would be far better going off overseas with TWAM.

    What has surprised me, and continues to surprise me, is how liberating it feels to have less 'stuff'... along with a kind of 'eek, just how much did I spend on all this over the years?'

    Whilst it's slightly odd to recognise that my days of car mechanicing or recorder playing or dressmaking or whatever are now past, it stirs many happy memories of the rich and diverse experiences I have enjoyed in my adult life.

    Quite a bit more cullling, clearing, donating and chucking still needed but I think I will actually like this leaner, cleaner lifestyle once I get there!

  • Borrowed metaphors

    Finally, I emptied the bag in which I had placed the sheet of flipchart paper with the 'metaphors' people had offered for God.  And so now, largely off the top of my head, is my attempt to make something coherent from them!


    The words were:




    Bread of Life




    King of kings



    Here goes!


    Creator God, Majestic Mystery -

    Nurturing like mother and father, yet more than either, greater than both;

    Feeding with the bread of life, your very self;

    Shepherd who guides by day and guards by night;

    King of kings, King beyond kings, sovereign who rules in justice;

    Word who speaks in whispers, in silence, in scripture, story and song:

    Majestic Mystery, we worship you.

  • Mihi and Mission and Pastoral Care

    Today, being a free Sunday, I was able to go along to a fairly new gathering that takes place in a former church, now a theatre, bar and bistro, on alternate Sunday mornings.  Imagined as a form of outreach, a kind of church for those who don't do church, or for those who are particularly interested in the more liminal space of life-and-faith, it seems, thus far, to attract predominantly church folk who are attracted by the imaginative approach and engaging speakers... it certainly scratches where some folk are itching, and that has to be a good thing.  This morning's experience was truly excellent and I'm very glad I went along.

    The speaker, Prof Alison Phipps from Glasgow University, led a very interactive morning looking at story telling, as in how the stories we tell about ourselves and about each other have power to shape our lives for good or ill... that the gift of story also carries a huge responsibility, that to poison the story is to poison a people, culture or nation.

    She introduced us to a Maori concept of Mihi, and  invited us in small groups to share our favourite mountain, our closest river, and the way we had travelled to the gathering this morning.  It was interesting to hear which mountains people chose and why (even if I did feel slightly guilty choosing Snowdon when everyone else in my group chose Ben Something-or-Other!), and this, more than the rivers or modes of transport blossomed into stories, including, unexpectedly the making of connections that arose from my mention of Snowdon... so maybe I should learn to be less reticent about my thoughts.

    The mihi would begin like this, and go on to share the names and occupations of parents and grandparents, locating the individual clearly within places and stories... very interesting stuff.

    As I walked home, I found three very different gatherings coming to mind.

    First was "Thing in a Pub" which we ran in Dibley for a couple of years, with aims (and actuality) very similar to the event I was at this morning.  We invited some excellent speakers including our MP (a C of E church warden) and Chief Constable (a lay preacher) and enjoyed some excellent conversations whilst munching sandwiches and drinking whatever we fancied.  Now and then someone would come and join us, but it was mostly church folk.  However, we built a good rapport with the landlady, and when her father died suddenly, I was asked to conduct the funeral as I was the only 'vicar' she knew.

    Next is the friendship group who meet on Friday afternoons. In the last couple of years this long established and cherished meeting has evolved from something quite formal into a relaxed gathering, in which stories are shared over tea and cake/biscuits around a single, long table.  Laughter rings loud, hymns are sung and the Bible explored.  

    Third is the group that meets in a pub every Wednesday morning to drink coffee/tea, chat, share news and generally put the world to rights.  Topics range widely and include politics, religion, health and wellbeing, family news and, especially, lots of deep and mutual care.  Must weeks a few folk who live alone will stay on for lunch together, enjoying each other's company and the treat of not needing to cook or wash up!

    All in all, then a good morning that made me think and encouraged me that so much of what I've been a part of in recent years has been exactly the kind of thing that can be fostered by 'mihi' and by sharing stories.

  • Variety

    It's been a very varied week, this week, full of "things they don't teach you at vicar school"...

    Getting to grips with the impact of legislation designed to address the loan sharks that are payday loans on the making of small loans to unincorporated bodies, such as churches, and the knock consequences for a charity of which I am a trustee, as we thought through how best to maintain our ethos in the light of this.

    With others, gathering into one place as much scrap metal as we possibly could from its assorted places around the church building, and then getting it sold for recycling... and discovering I can do better weight estimates than the first company to quote!

    Sharing the privilege of pastoral conversations, including singing hymns from memory at the bedside of a very elderly lady...

    Supping tea with 'Gandalf' and sharing conversation with a very special group of folk...

    Now I have a free weekend, which is a real treat, even if thus far I have mostly been catching up on overdue tasks!