17. All good things must come to an end…

For something else better to begin!

Well. I guess I ought to give an explanation for where the entries in this section “Straight from the heart” come from.

I had previously created a blog entitled:  ‘Journey through a painful body and a depressed mind‘, and I used this forum to write about my on-going battle with various health problems.  The title says it all really, but I have to clearly state that that, is who I was (and still am to some degree), but I have travelled far since then.

In the end, about 4 years ago, I decided that it was time to close to door on that chapter of my life.  Not because I was better, but because I recognised that virtually every single word I wrote, was bleak and gloomy.  It was all about the darkness.  Even though at the time, it was very beneficial for me to write this way, I realised that it wasn’t really who I was anymore. And I certainly didn’t need reminding of having felt that way.  This all being at a time, when I was both at my lowest and my strength was coming back, when my marriage was ending and I needed to feel hope in my heart.

The blog was very important to me, it helped me to survive and win through a very onerous period of my life.  I therefore, believe it was a necessity that my entries from it be included here, as the foundation of where it all began.  It was the beginning of my healing process, and allowed me to speak openly about the frustrations and anger that crippled me.  So, all good things must come to an end… blade-of-grass

Journey through a painful body and a depressed mind:

The ‘painful body’ is due to 4 conditions that I suffer with, Fibromyalgia, Allodynia Sciatica and Spinal degeneration in my upper and lower back.  Fibromyalgia, is the condition that I struggle with most, as I have it severely from top to toe.  It is horrible disorder to live with, as for me it entails being in chronic pain anywhere throughout your body.  Basically ‘Fibro” refers to the fibrous tissue surrounding joints and muscles, and ‘Myalgia’ refers to pain.  This can also be referred to a chronic pain syndrome, so it’s not just a few minor aches.

The severity, duration and locality of pain is different for each and every person, and I am now classed as being ‘End stage – severe’.  The pain from this can be so bad, a person can be completely incapacitated or even bed ridden by it, and I am very thankful, I have not reached that point yet).

There is no cure for this condition.

The best I can do for me, is to look after myself, by keeping my body as mobile as possible.  For that, I do a lot of stretching and yoga postures, and anything else that helps to keep me standing on my own two feet.  The only relief I can sometimes get, is by using strong pain killing drugs, which only dampen the pain down, and in turn create other problems for me.

Fibromyalgia: Is not a problem inside my head.  It is very real.  It is very painful. It is debilitating.  It is the silent burglar.

And it doesn’t just affect the physical body, it also grabs hold of your mind, and controls daily activity.

These are just some examples of how I am affected by Fibromyalgia:You think you know her
Forgetfulness, easily stressed, lack of concentration or focus, confusion, being clumsy, being unsteady just standing up, easily tired through constant lack of or disturbed sleep, eternal fatigue, terrible balance, being drained of energy, sensitivity to light, sound, smell and taste.

This list could go on and on.

I suffer with symptoms quite literally from head to toe on a daily basis.  I am always in pain, FULL STOP. I am always worn out, it takes me forever to do things, and it has robbed me of many simple joys in life.  But I, like everyone else, don’t have a choice, I have to live with it.

The Fibro, has also brought on a condition called Allodynia, which makes me incredibly sensitive to the slightest touch.  The severity of this, varies around different parts of my body, and in some cases I am now 23% more sensitive to pain than the average person.  What that means is that what might feel like a light touch to you, could feel like a punch to me.  Something as simple as stubbing my toe, could end up with me being in absolute agony for weeks.  So, I am always very cautious and somewhat scared of how people may touch me, be it a hug or an accidental brush.  My senses are on such high alert for this, and no one would know just by looking at me, that something was wrong. But my body automatically tenses up, in preparation of being hurt unintentionally in this way.

It has made my life unbearable at times, and I now understand that I have had it for most of my life, but something triggered it off for it to become full blown.  It took nearly 4 years of being left untreated and being in agony before I received a full diagnosis, that finally gave me a name for this monster.  By having MRI scans, it also showed that I had degeneration going on in my upper and lower back, and not before long, Sciatica was added to my repertoire of illnesses.

6ca44-required1As for the depression, that really took hold of me about 16 years ago, I literally skidded, then crashed and burned.  Again, with the help of hindsight, I recognise that this too was something that stemmed back from my childhood.  However, this time I really was a train wreck.

It is something I know will never entirely leave me, but now, I can’t help think that with everything on my plate, depression is/was a natural gravy.  Today, I use the strength I have gained through recovery to be open and frank with others who are suffering – whether they know it or not.

It is a strange sensation when your mind is still wanting to speed along but your body takes over the decision-making process.  Not being in control of my own frame of mind, left me feeling powerless, hopeless and defeated.  I have often said,

‘It was the best thing that could have happened to me’. 

Because had I carried on with my life the way it was, then things would have truly ended up being a lot worse.

In just a short space of time, my life changed forever, I was plunged into the darkness of a sound proofed arena, where I could hear and observe everything, but nobody heard or saw me.

It was the start of my ‘incredible journey’.

A mordacious opportunity, that helped me revisit my life.  My past, my ‘past’ past, my present, eventually leading me to look forward at my new future.   I’ve had decisions to make, and many other issues to deal with along the way, but one thing was for sure, changes had to be made.Sometimes it hurts

So here I am, this is where I’m at, now aged 49, about to embark on possibly the most exciting time of my life…starting over again. I am not out of the woods yet, but I can clearly see a bright light ahead of me.

I stopped writing the other blog, because I know I am not that person anymore.  All my physical health problems, as expected have naturally and progressively gotten worse, and deep depression is still a regular visitor.  But now, I see it for what it is, a ‘visitor’, something ‘temporary’.

I’m in a whole different place.

I have created a new book, with many blank pages.

I’ve rewritten, what was my then future.

I refuse to allow it to drag me too far, back into the abyss, it is not a place I want to spend time.

I see now, why back then, it was so crucial for me to have retained my positive outlook on my recovery and life.

Sharon carter-Wray

(Originally written 29/09/2014)

(Updated: 9th January 2019)

 

15. And so the story continues.

I hope, I haven’t made this whole thing about depression and healing myself sound as if it were easy.   It was far from it.  What a lot of people don’t understand about depression is that there no magic cure, it is not about “picking yourself up”, or “getting over it” or “popping pills” in your mouth.  There is so much more to it than that.

People with real depression only wish that they could do, just that.  But it’s not a choice that we have.  People who ask “What have you got to be depressed about?”, or  say things like “I’ve got a friend (etc), with the same problem and they did this”, or “You need to be getting out more and enjoying yourself”, etc, etc, etc.

The darkness i know so well
Know this feelilng well!

These people, who can voice such incredible words of thoughtlessness, and insensitivity, have absolutely no idea what they are saying to a depressed mind, or in fact to the person they are saying it to.

In my life, they were people who knew me, until I realised they knew nothing about me or my life.  They merely saw the material things I had gathered, the confidence I held in myself, the way I would always be the one to speak up, and who also always got the job done.  They didn’t bear or even consider the pressure I was under, or notice my gradual decline.  They didn’t see what was coming.  Neither did I.  But one day I was stopped.

1badf-when2bthe2bheart2bis2bcutNot by choice.  I had nothing to do with it.  My body had literally decided it couldn’t take anymore, it was burnt out, exhausted, and it was crying out for rest and quiet.

And for a while, in such a weakened state I had tried to defend myself against these people and their words.  But, no matter how many times I tried to explain, why this had happened to me, it fell on deaf ears.  And eventually I stopped trying to explain, and became almost silent.

All they wanted to do was find something else to blame it on:

  • Buying a new house
  • Building work that was going on,
  • Even my recent marriage.

Never did anyone, not even any of my family acknowledge, the stress they’d put me under, or the demands they made of me. And my employers seemed to think it was okay for me to do the job of 4 people, whilst studying and doing staff training on their behalf.  Never, did anyone think that they could be held even remotely responsible.

And that’s when I knew, that for my own sanity, I had to remove these people from my life.  Mentally, emotionally and physically.  They were causing me more damage and more pain than I needed or could cope with, and they completely zapped my energy.

Sharon Carter-Wray

(First written 5thMarch 2012)

I began calling my depression, my own personal journey, because that is exactly what it is, both personal and a journey.  But I am fortunate enough to be able to voice what’s in my head, and record my own thoughts. I can’t always be poetic about my feelings, so at times what I write may come across as being very raw, but it is honest.

I guess that’s why I feel that depression is such a very solitary thing.

People think they understand and have all the answers, as though it were as simple as going to the gym, or getting your hair cut.  But unless they have experienced it themselves, they really have no inkling of what really goes on in our minds.

00177-10462841_673987222689399_3467623837117453863_nSome of us may be lucky to find things that gives us some release, with me it’s my creativity and writing, but it can be a battle in itself to start that process.  For others, they may remain completely trapped, unreachable almost, being lost in their own world, where they see or feel no joy.

Because of the nature of all the illnesses I suffer with I am still depressed, it would strange if I weren’t.  Nobody can put up with constant pain, fatigue and a host off other issues, with a smile permanently on their face!  And I know I will be on medication for the rest of my life, there is no getting away from that, and I accept that.  Just as I have come to accept many things…

But one thing I do know for sure is:

It takes an almighty person, with the right set of keys to unlock the darkness inside someone’s mind and release the light.

Sharon Carter-Wray

(Updated Wednesday 5thDecember 2018)

 

12. Retracing my steps

Finally understanding what being ‘burnt out’ hit home, it made me look at my career to date.  I was always after self-betterment, I had always wanted a ladder to climb to achieve things.  But now, I know all my employers had seen that trait in me, and wanted to make the most of me, while they had me.

At the age of 24, I had literally packed a suitcase, and began a new job that took me off on new adventures.  I spent 10 years of my life travelling the length and breadth of this country, doing store openings for Homebase, B&Q & MFI to name a couple of companies.  Each time, staying away from home for months at a time, until the contract was completed, the store was opened or re-opened to the public for the first time; before we could finally return home or go onto the next job.  It was not an easy job by any means, it was very demanding, each contract was 24 hours a day, seven days a week, living in some hotel or B&B.

After a few jobs, I was no longer doing the ground work, I was managing a team of up to 35 people.  I was responsible for making sure that the job was done well and done right on which ever shift I was working on.  I and my colleague who covered the other shift, were accountable if things went wrong.ff44d-humans2bare2bfragile

After a few years I became an account manager, having direct with the clients I began to run the jobs, organising my teams, sorting transport, accommodation, interviewing & recruiting new staff. All this whilst still travelling to do site visits, which was always rife with some complaint or other, which I had to deal with. When I was not in the office, I would be in my car, it became a very lonely job.  The toll that all these hours behind the wheel of a car would eventually manifest itself later in my life.

With a team of core people, plus locally employed general assistants, we worked hard and played hard.

I used to say, it took a strange breed of fish to do the job, either people were running away from something; or they were trying to find something.

I am not sure which category I fell into, but eventually the need arose for me to find a permanent place, where I could finally hang my hat, and empty my suitcase. bad09-i2bcan2band2bi2bwill

This sadly coincided with the death of my brother, who had been very ill for many years.  It was at that point, that I knew that I had to move on.  I had always said to myself, that by the age of 30, I wanted my first home, and real independence, and a month short of my 30th birthday, I finally managed to achieve just that.

It was a huge turning point in my life, and something I was so proud I was able to achieve on my own.  It meant I finally had a home, a space that I could call my very own.

Sharon Carter-Wray

(9thSeptember 2011)

(Updated Wednesday 14th November 2018)

11. Picking up the pieces

When my doctor signed me off for two weeks with depression, his words of advice were:

“People suffer differently. Some will feel better after a couple of weeks or months and for some it could take years or never”.

I remember thinking ‘it’s not going to take that long for me to get over this, I had things to do, I had to work!  How little I knew then.  And here I am 9 years later, still very much depressed, still on pills, but somehow life is better.

Within the second week, I experienced another panic attack, though not as bad as the first, it was enough to frighten me.  Things that I would have been willing to do before, now scared me, and over the years I experienced many more attacks.

Over the next few months, I took a long hard look at myself, and my life to date.  During my silent years, I began the healing process.  I was still very angry, very anxious and very fragile.  It also helped me to understand that I wasn’t depressed from the date of diagnosis, but instead had been depressed for most of my life.

This was a real revelation, as it was from growing up, during my adolescence, and into my adult life, up to now.  And I was reminded of all the things that had been said, done or happened to me.If you aren't true...

My little demons, that I had hugged so closely, and carried around for so long, had one by one re-presented themselves to me, to face, to overcome or to deal with.  It took me a while to understand what I had to do, but then I realised that unless I addressed each and every one of them, they would never go away.

I had been so angry with my ex employers for the way they treated me, in spite of my real tears, and cries for help they overloaded me, and just expected me to cope.  They had continually allowed me to work under extreme pressure, still meeting my deadlines, still producing the goods for them and being the honest spokesperson.

But what they had not expected was that I would fight back.

The lies they told, and the ignorance they hid behind to protect themselves, astounded me.  Each time they called me in for a “back to work” chat, was an opportunity for them to try and knock me back or have another go.  And though I felt physically weakened, my resolve grew stronger, I was not about to let them off the hook that easily. So eventually, after 12 months, I had my last meeting and walked away feeling a minor triumph.

That was the last straw that broke my back.  But in all fairness, I now know that all my previous employers were equally guilty.  As all of them had in one way or another, exploited my skills and hardworking attitude, and abused my good nature.  The trouble was, I always gave 110%, and they fed me with empty promises – that I kept on eating.

Of course, I have my regrets now for being such a conscientious employee, because I am still paying the price for my commitment to them.  But, in truth I can’t change my attitude towards how I approach doing anything, I will naturally give everything my best shot and more, whether the situation demands it or not.  But I do wonder sometimes wonder how different things might have been for me, if my employers had really used my full potential rather than abusing it…

Sharon Carter-Wray

(18thAugust 2011)

Updated: Tues 13thNovember 2018

 

10. What happened next..

I remember it all so clearly.  That morning, as I walked down that long corridor to the office where I worked, I could feel the tension and anxiety building up in me.  I was physically unstable, my heart was pounding, I was short of breath and I knew my blood pressure was sky high, but I also knew something was desperately wrong.

By the time I sat at my desk, I felt exhausted, I couldn’t think straight, and at that point I knew I had to see my doctor.  So, I told to my team leader, that I wasn’t feeling too good and needed to go to the doctors.  I got an appointment for an hour later.  However, as soon as I put the phone down, the panic attack kicked in.  I found myself gasping for air, burning up, with shooting pains in my chest.  I was terrified of what was happening to me.You have everything in you

But my team leader, didn’t get me an first aider, didn’t take me to my doctors, or call an ambulance, she drove me home!  It was then down to my husband to take me to the doctors.

I was in such a bad state, so as soon as we arrived at my surgery, I was wired up and attached to various machines, which thankfully confirmed that I wasn’t suffering from a heart attack.  But it did show that my blood pressure was a dangerous level.

After about an hour, I finally calmed down enough to see my doctor, who diagnosed depression, gave me some strong tranquilisers and signed me off for 2 weeks.

During that time, I got to know my sofa very well.  I hardly spoke to anyone or did anything else for that matter.  I never did get back to work.

That one day changed the rest of my life, and even now when I think about it, it still hurts.  It was a very scary & painful event, but I also have to admit that it was perhaps the best thing that could have happened to me.  As it made me slow right down and take a good long hard look at my life.  For the moment, I was no longer that strong, confident, straight talking woman instead I was a delicate and very fragile being.

After a few weeks of being off, the local authority that I worked for referred me to Occupational Health and also appointed a Counsellor for me to see.  Now, I have completed a Counselling course, and I know the rules about the client/Counsellor relationship.  But my God, that woman they sent me to see broke every single one of them.  She didn’t listen to me, but instead talked too much, she was opinionated and tried to offer advice.  She opened up a whole can of worms and had no idea how to deal with the contents.  I was so glad when the six weeks were finally up and that I hadn’t fully opened up with her.

It took me a couple of years before I before I really started to talk again, I had become so quiet and withdrawn, I hardly recognised myself.  I gave into the idea that if no one actually listened to me, then I had nothing to say.  And the so called do-gooders, who always thought they knew the answer to my illness, was one by one struck off the list of people I cared for or cared for me.

Crying is how your heart speaks...
Only someone who’s felt real pain could have written this!

I didn’t know it at the time, but later learned that depression makes you lose your confidence, and restricts the ability to do simple things like food shopping, driving a car, getting on a train, feeling comfortable with lots of people just to name a few things.  It can also stay with a person for years, can affect anyone young or old, can be caused by a variety of issues, and most importantly takes away your joy and desire to do anything or enjoy anything.

It is like walking around with your own personal black cloud constantly over your head, everything loses its colour and just turns grey.

I hope that maybe some of my fellow sufferers, who may be reading this, will agree with this description, because the list is extensive and this is just a brief overview.  I have often described it as being at the top of a series of steps.  Most people will suffer from some sort of depression at some time in their life, and will only fall down to the first step; so it’s pretty easy to get back up to the top.

When you are clinically depressed, you fall down many steps, maybe even down to the very bottom.  Then it’s a real struggle to get back up, yet alone climb up the first step.  Again, I can really only comment on my experience, but somehow, I believe that others like me are nodding their heads.

Chronic depression is a real illness caused by a chemical imbalance, and so it is important to understand, that when you are suffering, you cannot get over it on your own.  You need to have medical intervention, you need all the help you can get.Be like the blade of grass..

Depression is too common for there still to be stigma attached to it.

And if you do find yourself on medication, don’t be deterred by non-believers, or those who don’t want you popping pills but at the same time have no viable alternatives to offer.

Depression is very much a personal story, so treat yourself like an individual.

Sharon Carter-Wray

(27thJuly 2011)

 

(Updated Friday 9thNovember 2018)

You changed me

You changed me

In so many ways

It’s hard to remember

Who I was

Before the ‘you’ days

 

You changed me

You cut through me

And left deep scars

That still flow

Within my veins

 

You changed me

With your dirty footprints

That you meant to

Stamp on my heart

 

You changed me

With the memories

That still linger

Ghosting my shadows

Still looking

For places to hide

 

You changed me

You took away my faith

You, replaced it with

Needless anger and hate

But you couldn’t

Hurt my pride

 

You changed me

You made hard

What was once so soft

And so very giving

You spoiled me

For any other

 

You changed me

I can still see your face

I can still hear

Your vile words

And untruths

Ringing in my ears

 

You changed me

You took the best

Of what you thought

I had to give

Without a sideway glance

You turned your back

Thinking I stood

Broken without a chance

 

You changed me

You made me into

The woman I am today

Your harsh words

And split tongue

Only showed you

For the Devil you are

 

You changed me

You throttled my dreams

And dampened my desire

But you only proved

What I always knew

I should have aimed higher

 

You changed me

You made me doubtful

Question my worth

But I am gold to your sand

And just like everything

I slipped through

Your grasping hands

 

You changed me

But I changed for the better

I have severed my ties

I have no more anger

Or tears still to cry

Was this a lesson

For us to both learn by?

 

Sharon Carter-Wray

(Thurs 25thOctober 2018)

 

No ordinary woman

I’ve known for a long time, that I needed to be right here, at this moment. Even though this moment took longer to arrive than I had initially anticipated.

As soon as I left my friend in the car park where she’d dropped me off, I felt the mantle of responsibility and obligation to anyone or anything, gently slip from my shoulders and hit the floor.

I felt more empowered with every step, and braver with every mile added to the distance travelled. Doing something for myself and by myself, something not many of the women in my life would ever dream of doing. Ever.

But I feel free again.

And I am only reminded of how brave I really am, have been and have still yet to be. That I’m not an average woman. Something I’ve said about myself for years, I just hadn’t realised how true a statement it is, or the depth of where that truth came.

But, I guess I was no ordinary child either…

Born with health issues from day 1, I make no bones of telling people that I’m lucky to be here, but they think I mean ‘lucky’ in other ways. Much as I know I’m blessed, that kind of luck has never walked the same side of the road as me.

I learned a long time ago, that whatever I achieved in my life would be off my own back. I have never relied on any one, to get me where I am, even through my most difficult times with my ex. It was a message drummed into my head as a child by my father to fend for myself, basically allowing him to shirk his responsibilities from a very young age.

It’s odd that’s the first time I’ve ever thought of it in that way. The truth is more that I can’t actually remember anything really positive that he did for anyone of us, on a personal level. I know he has never stopped spouting off about ‘the things he’s done for us, but I can’t visualise them. I do remember how he used to be quick at doling out punishment, regardless; and to some degree my mother was no saint in that area either.

But as far as he was concerned, he was the ‘King of the castle’ in his own house, in fact he held that opinion of himself in everyone’s house. He liked to hold court, and even today there is nothing he likes better than a captive audience.

Recently close friends, who really know me have taken the time to remind me of my goodness, and what it is they see in me. Being seen through the eyes of others can be a revelation

I know I have digressed, but only slightly, as it all does play a part at some point on this story… The reason why I have needed to literally run away from my life, run from everything, just so I could press pause, take a moment and breathe.

It’s incredible the difference I feel, within so few short hours, to just be good to myself. I am in no hurry and I have no agenda other than to “just be”. And it feels wonderful to be able to finally let go, and do just that. It is now of course when I realise just how tired & burnt out I really am, and just how much I needed to do this. Perhaps I should entertain the idea of doing this for myself every few months, just to lift my soul enough to stop me falling. This isn’t just a quick getaway, this is good medicine…

Sharon Carter-Wray

(29th August 2018)

9. You have to learn…

“You have to learn to get up from the table, when love is no longer being served”.  Nina Simone

Ever have that feeling?

Well it’s not nice.

I have spent so long with one person, just to find years later that love didn’t live here any more.

Worse still, I began to question whether real love was there to start off with.

I looked so deep within myself, wanting to know when I lost my love for him, was it before or after that realisation?  I felt gutted, wounded and let down, each recollection of those words being said and memories of actions that didn’t quite match, only served as another blow to already cheek.

Each time I reeled back from the shockwaves, as I delved deeper into my psyche. Realisation kicked in, in a big way, I had to face the fact that I had been blinded by choice.  It was my choice, that all those niggles about our relationship, (or the things that I was unhappy with), had been pushed to one side.  I had carried on regardless. Boldly bowing down to my vows as a married woman, for richer for poorer, for better or worse, in sickness and in health etc, etc.

More fool me, when it dawned on me that instead of being loved and cared for, I had been ruthlessly taken for granted, manipulated, used, abused and abandoned.

I guess I always knew that something wasn’t quite right, it all seemed one-sided – I was doing all the giving, and he was doing all the taking.  But I had denied that fact to myself so long, that I almost didn’t believe it.

It was only when I started to look at the woman I had become, because of him, that the true damage became apparent… ‘I was running on empty’.  I felt completely stripped down to the bone, naked of even flesh.  I didn’t know who I was anymore.

I had been craving for the very things that he couldn’t or wouldn’t show or give to me.  I was indeed empty.  The ‘belief’ that he loved and appreciated me, had been based on the frequently used three words, that he used to keep me going.   However, there were seldom any ‘facts or acts’ to support them, they were quite simply just empty words.

The more I thought about it, the more my own true feelings toward him emerged. In my heart I had nothing left for him, and I had no idea when those feelings had left me.  But once again, I found myself in a very lonely place, it was hard justifying my reasons, to those who were also blinded by his charms.

Everything changed after that revelation.

I had woken up!

Finally I accepted that I wanted to start living ‘my’ life over again, but for ‘me’ this time.

Throughout all of this, I had blamed myself, I took on the responsibility, I think maybe because it was easier to deal with that way. After all had I not accepted and allowed his behaviour to continue?   So it was also down to me to stop it.

But all I want right now, is to find my smile and be happy again, because it’s way overdue!

 

Sharon Carter-Wray

(15thOctober 2014)

 

Note:

This was written a week before my Decree Absolute came through, unfortunately, I still had to spend another 6 months under the same roof as the waster I married! Sx J

 

 

 

Have faith

I have faith in myself

My words have set me free

Even if they sometimes feel

Like they are the very chains

Restraining me

I cannot throw

Caution to the wind

And write with abandon

My thoughts run deep

And are not at all random

The book of “My life story”

Has until now

Remained mostly unread

But now my story

Is something to share

And my words

Are something to spread

There is still

So much darkness within me

That surely needs

To see the light of day

I didn’t ask for this life

Or this history

It just happened that way

But by rooting round

Inside my agony

I keep finding the words

I need to say

Self-belief is hard to find

Even though

It’s just a state of mind

When I’ve been knocked down

And not thrown back

It’s been real hard

To get back up

But I’ve done it all the same

Hell yes!

I waited in the line

At the baggage reclaim

For my suitcase

Labeled ‘Lost Soul’

And when at last I opened it

All my hope

Came back home

 

Sharon Carter-Wray

(19thJune 2018)

 

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