Recently my mind has been filled with many ‘if onlys’. It has been just over five years since my lovely friend Chris took his his own life. I have found myself thinking ‘if only I had recognized his cheerful mood the day before as a sign that he had a suicide plan in place, rather than optimistically thinking he was improving I have wondered, what if, instead of going to work on my day off, that day, I’d stayed home and visited Chris instead. If only the mental health services had been better! Was it really beyond them to send him consistent and qualified staff. If only his marriage had not broken down so bitterly. If only he’d been able to accept the love and care we were offering.
I saw the inspirational Bowel Babe on TV this morning and thought of my dad. He was such a wonderful man and we miss him so much. If only I’d put two and two together! Why didn’t I link his back pain, his awkward sitting position and uncomfortable tummy? (I’m a physio for goodness sake!) If only the GP had been more thorough or more experienced. If only dad had been demanding and less embarrassed. Oh, and his care: If only there was better co-ordination and communication. If only there was more research and money. If only there were more doctors and nurses.
I realise these ‘if onlys’ are thieves. They are steeling my time, my energy and my joy. They can achieve nothing other than to bring me low. Guilt for myself and anger at others is wasted emotion.
So what I can I do? I have the feeling that these ‘if onlys’ will keep sneaking up on me. I guess we all have them, actions regretted, and opportunities missed.
I have decided that I will refuse to sit with my ‘if onlys’. When they arrive, I will instead turn them to ‘will dos’!
Instead of continuing to mull over what is in the past and unchangeable here is a list of what I will do instead:
- Encourage my family and friends to look after their physical health
- To go to the Dr’s
- To go again if needed
- To not be embarrassed about any symptoms
- To value themselves as worthy of time and support
- To ask for what they need
- To raise concerns when care is not good enough
- Encourage my family friends and social media contacts to look after their mental health
- To not be embarrassed
- To ask for help
- To talk
- To be kind to themselves
- To do things they enjoy
- Encourage to my health care colleagues to make their communication
- Push on with developing and bringing to release ‘Our Coms’ a new smart phone application to transform communications between professionals and families with disabled children.
This now is my brave bit. I’ve had a go at writing a poem and I’m going to share it:
If Only – he’s a sneak,
He creeps up on me,
He reminds me of opportunities missed,
And things that’d be better undone,
He instils guilt for myself,
And anger at others.
If only – he’s a thief,
He steals my joy and energy,
Well I’ve had enough,
I refuse to sit any longer with If Only,
I’m showing him the door,
I’m inviting Will Do, instead.
Will do, is different entirely,
He brings hope and belief,
And ideas for tomorrow,
He makes me brave,
And causes optimism to rise.
I’m sure If Only visits you, too,
We all have regrets,
And frustrations with others,
Why don’t you join me?
Let’s say adios to If Only,
And ola, do come in, Will do.