Never Been Heard

(formerly The Musings and Learnings of a Widowed Bipolar Mum)

I Don’t Like The Silence But I Don’t Want To Make A Noise-Grief & Anxiety In The Evening

Since my husband died over 4 years ago, I’ve started to suffer anxiety at night. I’ve

never really been an anxious person before and it took me some time to identify what it was.

As evening approaches I start to feel unsettled, my activity level reduces and I just want to

 get the essential things done. I serve my daughter dinner and leave the washing up until

tomorrow. There is a creeping sense of dread, an unease, and as the clock ticks the desire to

go to bed becomes overwhelming.

            I am becoming frustrated at my daughters increasingly busy routine, sometimes

having to go out to football training or a martial arts club, making everything go late,

squeezing in homework and shower. Extremely tired.

 If she doesn’t go to bed at normal time it is sometimes too much for me and I get into

bed first but leave my side light on for her to say goodnight. I dread putting on my pyjamas,

skip my teeth or washing my face. I want to feel safe in my bed.

            I hate the silence of being up alone. It makes me feel incredibly anxious. But at the

same time I fear making any noise. I would love to have some me time, watch a movie, a

series, put some music on but it fills me with nervousness. I used to be a night person before

my husband died, busy doing all sorts at night or calling people or certainly having leisure

time if not. What is it about the silence I can’t bear? And what is it about the noise?

            I suppose the noise is like normal life. Normal life has resumed in the day so why not

at night? There is a sense that something bad is going to happen and so I go to bed to avoid it.

I suppose the bad thing did happen at night with my husband, we had a lovely cosy evening

watching a movie and then I woke to a lot of noise and crashing in the middle of the night as

 his Cancer ridden body stumbled through the hallway having a rare stroke that put him in a


            But I still can’t connect it all together. I’m not aware of feeling lonely but I’m acutely

 aware of not wanting to move around very much. And so pleased the day has been

successfully negotiated I accept that as my lot and crawl into bed.

            I have started to force myself to read a few pages of a book to wind down. In the past

I tried bigger things. Sticking sequins on a piece of wood, mindfulness (which made it

worse), and I did manage to watch the odd movie or series episode from time to time.

            I seem to be better when my daughter isn’t here and it puzzles me why that is. I’ll stay

up a little later and I will watch something although I’ll swap that for the cooking. I still

wouldn’t use the phone. I like being completely alone from time to time, not having to worry

 about her. But then what’s the worry when she is asleep.  Still though in the background the

fear is present.

            I don’t feel l’m grasping the root of the problem. I still haven’t identified what this

foreboding is. I’d like my evenings back. I’d like my old self in the evenings back, it’s like a

whole part of me is missing everyday. It’s also just unpleasant to feel like this every night.

Everything changes when you lose a spouse. In some ways you become a better

person, stronger person, a warrior. But in others you are left wounded and with new

neuroses you didn’t have before. For me it’s Anxiety. I never knew Anxiety until my husband

died. I knew extreme mood states of Depression and Elation from my Bipolar Disorder. But

not Anxiety.

            And there lies the answer! I’ve found it. What probably chases me at night is simple.

It’s a manifestation of unspent Grief. Perhaps it’s not ‘doing’ something that’s necessary.

Perhaps I need to just sit in silence and discomfort and observe it. Not running to bed. Not

lamenting that I feel rubbish and want to be doing something ‘normal’.

            I discovered some months ago that my Grief was disguising itself as Anxiety. I don’t

know why I hadn’t linked that to these dreadful evenings. It makes sense that I would miss

him more at night. For the next week I am going to sit with it and give it space and see if my

question is answered by this action. I feel apprehensive already but this might just be my

vehicle for change.


            I didn’t publish this immediately as I imagined I may want to return to it. I’ve just had

2 nights alone without my daughter and it’s been considerably challenging. On the first night

I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t Grief causing the Anxiety but a generalised discomfort

at being alone. I managed to start watching a series and make myself a meal but I still felt the

anxiety and I still did not feel settled until I was safe under my duvet. When you’ve been

with someone for 11 years it is hard to be alone of night. The silence is creepy and I need to

find my strength in being an independent woman again and find my own safety, feel safe

within myself not because I have a partner who makes me feel safe.

But on the second night I realised it was more complicated. I realised how much fear I

live with. I have a fear of life. In the day I am busy taken up with all the activities of caring

for my child, writing, doing my various jobs and Occupational activities. In night the demons

are out. The fears come alive. I haven’t even known what they are. I still don’t fully know

what they are. They have been sitting there quietly not letting me want to make noise, making

me want to go to bed and hide from them. I am frightened of my responsibilities. It comes

down to my illness. I watched the entire series on “Spinning Out” in a day during my alone

time from my daughter and it came to a head. The programme is about an Ice Skater heading

 for the Olympics but suffering from Bipolar Disorder and the relationship with her mother

who also has Bipolar Disorder. I found it profoundly affecting. I could see the destruction of

not taking medication. Her life was going so well when she was complying with her meds

routine and all the damage happened when she stopped it. Yet I wanted to feel that alive.

The programme brought up so many emotions from my past from when I’d tried

similar experiments with my medication before I’d had my child when I’d gone wrong and it

ended in catastrophe yet still. I feel trapped by medication. Although I feel in a constant fear

 of becoming unwell which I know means I need to take it. I didn’t like seeing the Disorder

 portrayed on screen yet I was gripped. I work a better programme of self-management than

them but I was fearful of the seriousness of the possible consequences of the illness. Still it

was strangely enticing to think of reducing my meds. I didn’t want any responsibilities

 anymore. My responsibilities make me fearful in case I can’t meet them. My child is my

 greatest gift and I love her more than anything. But it is a huge work for me to continue to

meet her needs on a daily basis and live with this illness.

Yet she keeps me alive. She is my life force. She has literally saved my life. There is

no question I would be dead if it were not for my daughter. I’m moving from place to place

with this but my mind has been moving from place to place. I have to find a way to live with

the fear, to manage it. I guess I have to CBT myself. Bring the fears into the foreground and

identify them. Write them down and challenge them. But sometimes it would be nice if life

 was not so much hard work. If I could just be chilling not constantly working on something.

Sometimes I just don’t want to do this alone, the driving to school, the shopping, cooking,

 cleaning, taking to after school club, dealing with important issues that crop up as well as

having to deal with all the stiff I’m doing in my own life to try and make this year the first

year even that I don’t have an episode in Spring.

I really need that. I need that turning point. I need to hold onto the determination I had

a few days ago but it’s really fucking hard when you feel like you don’t know what to cook

 for dinner let alone how to shop and you are dreading doing all the after school club rushing

around when school resumes next week. Life just sometimes feels like its too busy for

someone with all my challenges but in reality I do have the time. After every episode I’m

relearning how to live and I live in fear that it will all come crumbling down.

Final Postcript

            As the anxiety has gripped me and turned into a relentless fear as the past few days

 have elapsed I have realised it is simple. One simple thing. My husband made me feel safe. I

felt safe in his arms, Safe in his company. Safe knowing he was there, to come home to, even

in bed asleep. Just safe having him around for 11 years. I need to learn how to feel safe in my

own skin alone again. Reduce the vulnerability that the echoes of my experiences have left

behind. Rebuild my strength. I seem to possess it all day as a mother to complete my role and

maybe that’s why it fades as evening beckons. I am running out of steam. I need to construct

something genuine inside of me, for me. I’m not sure where to start although this awareness

is a key point. I imagine bringing my fears to a conscious level a challenging them will be the

next. I can cope, I am coping. I just need to learn how to feel comfortable alone.

6 responses to “I Don’t Like The Silence But I Don’t Want To Make A Noise-Grief & Anxiety In The Evening”

    • That’s a great performance and a great track. She’s so powerful. I should try headphones. I always forget to charge them up. I’ll put some on now. Voices like Adele are good therapy if you remember they are there! ❤️


  1. Bipolar disorder is also a very misunderstood condition. Everyone thinks it’s just about mood swings. It’s not. It’s about a mind of high voltage and volcanic eruption, every fucking day, sometimes even when you’re depressed. Sometimes, that mind is what makes you feel depressed. Because nobody gets you. Nobody gets your voltage. So you feel really alone, unless you connect with other people with the disorder and their families. It makes all the difference. Thank you so much. x


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