Big Little Lies is an book-to-TV adaptation made for the HBO network which in Australia is exclusive only to Foxtel or Apple iTunes. If you haven’t read the book or watched the TV show, you should probably read this review of the book first.
I would like to start this review by saying that on a whole I enjoyed this TV series. I binge-watched it on my day off work a week ago and I enjoyed it after I got through the first episode where Nicole Kidman has noisy/violent/weird sex with Alexander Skarsgaard. It is also important to note that I enjoy watching Real Housewives of Sydney and I have been known to dabble in an episode of the Kardashians or other such spin offs.
In addition, I think Game of Thrones is boring, so… my recommendation should really come to you with a grain of salt or little-to-zero trust.
Disclaimer aside; I would like to say that the casting was strange.
I can’t really take Reese Witherspoon all that seriously since I’ve seen her bend and snap and act like a giant bimbo in the movie about her chihauha and pink clothes blond hair and law, or whatever it was. Or that one movie where Selma Hyak and her brother Ryan Phillipe got it on. She was cast as Madeline, the most highly strung of the three mothers. In the book Madeline comes across as about as old as Nicole Kidman — a bit of a wise mother-bear who takes Jane under her wing. She is slightly annoying at times, but is overall a very likeable.
Reese Witherspoon as Madeline made me want to shove a fork in my eye. How’s that for irony!? (C’mon, you have to be able to see what I did there). She was rude, obnoxious, reactive, spoiled, selfish and had absolutely no self-awareness. She played a comical version of the serious Madeline from the book — a little annoying.
Aaaaand Nicole Kidman — choose an accent and stick to it, woman — you’re either pretending to be American or you’re Australian. She plays the role of Celeste. Celeste is painted out to be a young and effortlessly beautiful woman. I’m not saying that Nicole Kidman is not beautiful, because she is… in that same kind of way that Tilda Swinton is. Her husband Perry is played by Alexander Skarsgaard who’s last performance I can remember was in True Blood where I saw his naked arse more times than I’ve seen my own. So, you have two very fair people having very very pasty white, violent, weird, loud, is-she-in-pain-is-she-enjoying-this sex.
Together their scenes caused so much glare that I picked up new radio signals.
Weird match. Oh, and also, she played a cougar.
Shailene Woodley played Jane and I have nothing snarky to say about that, she was probably a perfect pick.
The guy that played Madeline’s husband was a guy who I have only ever seen playing obnoxious comical characters in Will Ferral movies, so there is that.
The show itself was very good and while it may not have been minute-by-minute accurate to the book, it was still quite enjoyable. Madeline’s daughter Chloe was played by a cute little girl who had a lot of attitude. The character was precocious and I would probably take an instant dislike to her if she existed in real life.
Ziggy, Jane’s daughter was adorable and he played his role very, very well.
The opening credits of the show are weird and comical with all the women dressed up as different versions of Audrey Hepburns — it seemed like it was the opening for a satire show.
My biggest annoyance was the way it ended. I won’t spoil anything, but the ending was completely rewritten. A revelation occurred that changed the way the truth came out. The way it was written in the book made much, much more sense than the way it played out on the show. I believe if you have watched the show for the first time and aren’t paying complete and utter full attention, you won’t pick up the realisation that registers with one of the characters and for me that was the entire crux of the book.
What I think was the best thing about the entire TV show is actually the sound track. To download/buy/stream, the soundtrack comprises of about 12 mediocre songs, when if you search a couple of articles that last all the songs by order of episode, you can put together a very, very cool sound track.
That’s what I did!
I still recommend this show — but I recommend the book first. I’m not the sort of person that cant disassociate one from the other, but I feel like if you read the book you can get the broader picture of the story but still enjoy them both.
Sometimes when you’re on the other side of a shit week, everything feels stagnant. Sometimes it can be akin to depression in that there’s no high or low– its just flat and everything feels ‘bleh’.
Everything feels calm and I am really not complaining. However with the awfulness of last week, I seem to have lost motivation in a lot of aspects. I started eating a whole lot of shit food, had a couple of soft drinks and really got in to the wine over the weekend.
I just want to feel good again – happier, at least.
I hate to be moody and inconsistent in the way that I feel. I hate that I can’t get myself going in the mornings, that it takes me three tries before I get out of bed. That I cry for no real reason over some really stupid shit (like the fact that I have to straighten my hair and I desperately don’t want to have to turn it on because then I’ll panic all day about whether or not its off properly). I hate that I will end up crying because I don’t feel much of anything. I hate that I’m not overly affectionate and I don’t want to be coddled.
But in a total twist, I find it easy to be motivated to do the most useless things.
Playing Xbox360 for 6 hours without a break. Doing laundry (wtf? I know, I am surprised too, this is my least favourite task) and reorganising the pantry and then even my bedroom and then watching three hours of the original series of Degrassi High (the first place I ever got any sex ed?).
I guess its just a matter of going through the motions again.
I canceled my personal training session last week because I was mentally unable to really cope with much that day let alone trying to put on a brave face and exercise for an hour and pretend that everything was okay.
Tomorrow I have another session and I’m determined that tomorrow is more than just a new day.
I read a book early last year by an author who has a very strong online presence as well as a cult-following. The book was an ill-written memoir where I’d found parts blatantly ripped from other (funnier) comedy memoirs (which had done the subject matter so much more justice). I hated it. And I felt like I needed to let the author know with a very honest review.
There were so many things that I hated about it which was disappointing because if the first chapter had been setting the tone, it would have been an incredibly witty read.
Such was not the case and I kept reading out of train-wreck like curiosity.
When I got to the end of the whole awful thing, I felt like I wanted to run to Goodreads and leave a scathing review that would make all the other cult-following readers raise their eyebrows with great offence. I started tapping away angrily at my keys, pointing out the stupidity of the chapter titles; how they were making a joke of some really awful and serious incidents (no shit, ‘the time your foster dad puts his hands down your pants’ was a title of a chapter.) and diminishing the seriousness of so many things. I wanted to tell the people reviewing this previously who called it ‘brave’ were in the wrong. This book was put together by someone with a blurred view of social boundaries, who tried to put a happy spin on things like drug and relationship abuse. I had so many things to say about this.
But I stopped myself halfway through and backspaced everything with a high level of disappointment at not being able to give my two cents without being a complete asshole.
I love to write. I am working on a novel. I have been for months now. I love constructive critisism. I would love to have someone put their hand up to read everything I’ve written thus-far with a magnify glass and tell me exactly what they felt and where they believe I can improve. I would love for someone to agree to go through my story with a fine-tooth comb and tell me where my plot isn’t working or suggest things to enrich it.
What I wouldn’t respond to, is someone reading my book and completely obliterating all the time and hours that I have put in to it to create a story that other people can enjoy. Regardless of how many people respond well, it is only human nature to take the one, harsh, nasty comment to heart and carry that with us and use it to ignite any insecurities that may have shown up in the story sharing process. It would be hurtful and damaging as a writer to not receive constructive feedback.
This is not to say that if someone were to offer me a book for review that appeared to be the literary equivalent to one of those embarrassing American Idol auditions like William Hung, then it would be a different story. Sometimes its okay to tell someone when something isn’t their forte, I don’t believe in harvesting a person’s false sense of talent — but genuinely speaking, it is better in my opinion to encourage to discourage especially when it is a fellow artist.
I’ve been reviewing books for awhile now. I generally find the good in most of them. Sometimes if the dialogue is awful, I will find good in the plot. If the plot is awful, I will touch on how it could have been improved while taking a look at the things that I did like about it. However, what to do when the book is so awful that you barely want to make it through? I’ve come across books where the writer develops the characters better than the plot – the plot falls flat but the characters can redeem it. However, sometimes there is no saving a book – and as a reviewer, I have found it hard to know when it is okay to be honest and how honest can I be, considering that these books are sent to me specifically for an honest (not nasty or hurtful) review?
I suppose at the end of the day we always say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder — the same goes for books, movies and music. What appeals to one may not appeal to another, so maybe all my honest opinions on a particular book cannot or will not reflect what another reader may take away for it? That could be the only explanation why so many people went ga-ga for the book that I’ve mentioned earlier!
I am interested to know what your thoughts are — how authors feel about this and how other book reviewers feel?
A lot of things that people do on the internet is as annoying AF, but especially I find buzz words or buzz expressions really frustrating. So frustrating, that I want to start punching kittens. Real talk. So, I present to you…
Buzz Terms From The Internet That Make Me Punchy
Whenever I see someone write the expression, ‘smh’, it makes me feel a strange desire to go and buy a full-fledged black and white tabloid-sized print version of the Sydney Morning Herald and shake my head at all of the awful news.
No, I’m not talking about the postal service here.
I happen to frequent Tumblr when I want to get in touch with my exuberant youthful side. It was there that I saw some other middle-aged regressed-teens discussing how they “shipped” Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler the hardest from “Law & Order SVU” (guess I’m not as youthful as I feel). I was confused at first and after reading on, I understood but felt incensed over the whole matter.
What is wrong with you people?! Must you shorten every word and sentence?! You wish they were in a relationship so you go around telling the internet that you “ship” the couple hard-as?
Stupidest shit ever.
I ship the idea of shippers getting on a ship and shipping their ships far, far away.
“I CAN’T EVEN!”
You can’t even?! You can’t even….what? Take a shit? Burp the alphabet? Rub your belly and pat your head at the same time? Breathe? FINISH A SENTENCE!!!! Finish a sentence, dickbag!
This might help those who can’t
‘I Don’t Want To Adult Today’
CONSTRUCT RESPONSIBLE SENTENCES! For the love of Bob the Friggin’ Builder, we can fix this! Another offender of a similar vein are; ‘forgot how to cat’, ‘forgot how to human’, for goodness sakes, grow up and use your words properly. What is so wrong with the English language that you need to turn everything in to a verb! It’s not cute.
Think about it, at nine years old a toothless child with a lisp and the inability to pronounce hard Rs loses it’s appeal very quickly and it starts to become an issue for the speech therapist. I feel similarly about people who frequently use this expression.
Oh, the annoying irony of this image.
‘X’ took on the internet and WON!
Click bait is annoying, but sometimes legit news outlets use this term and it makes me feel very cynical. In case you don’t know who or why anyone would say this, allow me to enlighten you; this expression is for like, when some normie goes viral for a good, moralistic reason and they go viral and everyone applauds without knowing if it’s even true or not.
X person took on the internet and won!
Oh really? Fairly large call, I’d say.
Tell me more about how that person took on the entire internet and won it. Took on the entire epicentre of pornography and depravity did they? And then they continued to the darknet and won that too? Kept going and dominated all of the piracy giants and then the weird sub-cultures that belong to each flimsy, dark, dank corner of the web? They came, saw and conquered every social media outlet, did they just? Beat Kim Kardashian at her own game, hmm? Picked apart all business conglomerate pages and industry giants like a regular old David to a Goliath, huh?
What pray-tell did they actually win!?
What are some buzz words/expressions that make you want to lose your shit?
We spend so long making plans in life and striving for bigger and better as if the things that we have in the present can never satisfy us.
We strive for more money, more success, more things, more…. happiness.
And we strive for all of these while focused on a destination that we have carefully mapped out in our heads. We never really stop to take a breath and take stock of the many wonderful things that we do have in our lives; the blessings that have been bestowed upon us by those that love us so richly. We never really just pause to enjoy the journey.
Life is unpredictable, unfair, un….planable. It is impossible to plan for every single thing and unfortunately we can presented with road blocks, we can get lost along the way or can find ourselves realising that the destination that we want or need is not the same as we thought originally.
It doesn’t mean that it’s time to give up just because it wasn’t what we signed up for, it just means we need to be more accepting of a new route; it means fighting and never ever surrendering even though everything may seem or feel futile.
I’m documenting this journey; some of it here online, some of it in my physical journal, solely because I don’t want to forget the important moments despite how small and insignificant they may seem. I am going to look back and say that we got through it; we got back on the right roads, despite the misdirection, roadblocks, the disillusions of having to take the shit route and the awfulness of having to travel on the days where all we wanted to do was to give up.
I want to look back and say that we did this with the help and faith in God and the pure, unconditional love we hold for those who are dear in our hearts.
So, I won’t beat around the bush; it was confirmed for us yesterday that my Mum has cancer.
The confirmation was met with fury, anger, devastation and just about any emotion that you can think of that will aptly cover the magnitude of such news. I was going to write some great, big, long emotional post about it, but to be honest, no one wants to read that bullshit and I don’t have the emotional capacity to write it. I’m sure it was all covered three years ago in one of my older blog entries when she was going through it the first time.
So, instead I am going to share with you eight reasons as to why cancer should fuck off.
1. Because no-one wants it here.
Seriously, ever met a person that liked to have cancer around? No. Cancer is an asshole and it comes in like a spanner and fucks your entire lifestyle. It instills fear in to you from the tip of your toes to the crown of your head and it lingers around evilly, sitting on your shoulder reminding you that it is infectious and that you probably shouldn’t think of anything else.
No one wants you, cancer, fuck off.
2. Because chemotherapy takes the nails out of their beds of your fingers*.
No, I’m not shitting you. This is the stuff of nightmares. Imagine, Japanese war torture and then that’s basically akin to what happens when you have chemotherapy. Upon our first session with a chemotherapy nurse we were told that a certain type of chemo drug may result in loss of nails. We laughed it off but when it actually happened I thought I would puke my guts up and it wasn’t even my nails at stake.
One by one those little necessary bastards fell right out of their little nail-y sockets and it sucks. It sucks for the person dealing with it and it sucks for anyone else to have to see.
3. Because Cancer Research Fundraisers are sending my arse broke.
People don’t raise thousands upon thousands and millions upon millions of dollars on charity walks, fun runs (still, an oxymoron), morning teas, girls night’s in (seriously who the fuck in their right mind would hang out with 5+ women in one room at one time?), head shaves and such for shits and giggles.
They do those things because they want to rid the disease forever so that they never have to hear the word in anyone’s household ever again. And so many people are taking part these days that I have no choice but to dig deep because I am part of this aforementioned barrage of fundraisers…
4. Because we’re tired of having to read about what food/activity is going to cause cancer.
I like my food, man, I want to eat whatever I want without having to worry about all this. Stevia causes cancer, diet coke causes cancer, using talcum powder causes cancer, using spray on deodorant causes cancer, poor diet causes cancer, meat causes cancer, eating fruit from farms out-of-season causes cancer. The sun causes cancer, inactivity causes cancer, genetics cause cancer, breathing causes cancer.
What the hell!? Should I just go and eat some bean sprouts and hide under a rock? I’m tired of it!
5. Because chemotherapy is more extreme than a shake diet.
I’m pretty sure that my mum lost at least 10-15kgs when she was going through chemotherapy. Look, I love my Mum, but she stood to lose that weight and now she remains at a healthy, weight — but talk about an extreme diet…. a healthy one, I might like to add. Coco-pops and orange juice, the breakfast, lunch and dinner of champions.
Even though effective in weightloss, probably not the kind of thing you want to subject yourself to each time you put on a bit of ‘holiday weight’.
6. Because hearing that someone you love has cancer is earth-shattering.
In all seriousness, hearing those words will never be easy. You will never be prepared for it regardless of how many times you have played it over. Your world will stop spinning and you will be angry for it to keep turning for everyone else regardless of how many times those people tell you they are sorry and love you as they whizz past on their rotations.
It is emotional, overwhelming, infuriating and all too much at times.
7. Because cancer makes you unfortunately realise who is important to you**
Remember those friends that you thought were your best and most amazing?
Yeah, they’ll probably run away in discomfort and only appear in sporadic moments to gingerly ask if things are okay and hope with all their might that you won’t elaborate.
Its okay though, we’ll have figured it out by then and won’t.
Here’s a hint, the true people who prove to be your real friends will be holding your hands the whole ‘journey’, they will call you regularly, ask how you are without being afraid of your tears and they will understand that you are not looking for their words to help, but their solidarity and comfort.
8. Because cancer is a giant asshole.
Let’s eradicate this disease. It is of absolutely no use to any single living soul.
*Do not bother commenting if you are the type of person who feels like big pharma are lying and chemo is actually what is going to kill a patient. Do not bother commenting if you are going to advise me to help steer my loved one away from the route of chemo because all of your infinite googling told you its not right. **Obviously I realise that some people don’t know how to appropriately respond to bad news, but I hold my friends to the same standard I hold myself to and I don’t think being a good friend is a hard thing to be. And if you don’t know how to be supportive, then be honest about that. We’d all appreciate that more than not hearing from someone we adore because they just don’t know.
Well, sometimes it does; especially when you hate that person so badly that each time you look at them, you fantasise about launching yourself at them with great gusto and gouging out their eyeballs and pickling them for about 6 months before feeding them to the next person who dares cross you.
But um– that aside, it really doesn’t hurt.
I often find women, even friends, are in constant competition with others. They can be jealous and rude and happy to see when someone is having a hard time or is failing at something they try so hard to succeed with. About six months back, I shared that I was trying to lose weight and get healthy on a social network site. Rather than being encouraging, someone replied asking, “lol, here we go again, hey, how long will this time last?”
People struggle with a lot of things in life — personally, I struggle with my health as earlier outlined, and more than that, I struggle to stay healthy. It should be my life ambition to maintain a healthy lifestyle so as not to upset any existing issues. My friends should recognise this and rather than try to belittle me for it, encourage me and spur me on when I do feel like giving up. That’s what friends should do, right?
It doesn’t pay to be an ass.
As a result of that, I’ve only shared my successes with the people who I consider to be very close in my life — and that is a shame, because I am so incredibly proud of everything.
I realised how badly burned by the experience I was when I received a beautiful message from one of my best friends early last week, that was both uplifting, loving and inspiring.
Its always been my hope that the people in my life (my loved ones, friends, fam, etc) can look upon me fondly and think that at some point I’ve said something nice or meaningful to them at a time when they’ve needed to hear it the most; specifically like my beautiful friend exemplified above. There have been other times where I’ve had phone calls from friends just to say they love me or to say they have been thinking of me and those are always perfectly timed.
Even if someone is exhibiting a harmless behaviour you don’t like or that you want to roll your eyes at, it doesn’t mean you have the right to be unkind to them or mock them; or worse, tell them to get a life. We are all different people, we all think and feel different ways, but the one thing we have in common is that desire to have someone give us a pat on the back and encourage us or speak uplifting words or love in to our lives at the times when we need it the most.
Many of my friends are going through hard times — good friends and not such close friends — and it feels nicer to be thoughtful, considerate and loving toward them during the hard times, rather than sitting back in a voyeuristic way, deriving a little bit of satisfaction to know that you’re in a better place emotionally and sometimes physically.
It doesn’t pay to be nice, but it also doesn’t pay to be an arsehole.
Choose to inspire someone rather than choosing to be a dipshit. Its pretty simple.
We can’t all look as unrealistically inproportionate as Kim Kardashian and have everyone fawning all over someone’s brazen and natural photoshop skills.
I have struggled with my weight for almost four years now. I feel rude saying that given that I haven’t ever hit the 70kilograms mark, but I am also less than 5ft tall and unfortunately when you have curves and you don’t have access to a ‘waist trainer’ and a bunch of people to prepare and feed you the exact right thing to ensure you don’t shed any less than a kilogram a week, you end up just looking like a chubby short chick.
Its infuriating to me each time I step on the scales after doing two weeks of solidly clean-eating and exercising on a daily basis and I see that nothing has changed. It might fluctuate up and down over a couple of days, but the number always ends up around the same. Infuriating because I am saturated over Facebook with how well all these diets/life style changes work for other people.
When nothing changes, I go back to eating good stuff, you know, food that I don’t have to pretend that I like; food that I actually like. And then I go back to being sad about my appearance.
Really, I should be focusing on the important thing; and that is that my heart is healthy. Anyone who has a heart issue is told that they should be walking a minimum of 30 minutes per day on top of their regular daily movement (so its cheating to count that in to your walking around the house, etc). I also should eat healthier because I don’t want a premature clogged artery (and I don’t eat that badly for the record). So instead of counting calories and freaking out about going over, and feeling the tips of depression when I don’t reach some insane goal weight, I’ve decided to do away with the scales. They are my biggest enemy.
I am exercising daily through a couple of different measures and I am eating healthily. That isn’t to say that when I want something a little bit, shall we say, less healthy, I am going to pass it up. I think that’s the issue with diets, the part where you binge eat because you haven’t had fun food in awhile.
Each time I walk in to the bathroom, I am slightly tempted to step on the scales, but I keep resisting. Hopefully when I get a bit more fit and carry all the exercise out as routine, I will start seeing the changes in my body, but until then, the scales need to be left alone.
2. Other People’s Actions
You ever met someone that you know you instantly are not going to get along with? And its unfortunate because that person is going to be a big part of your life? And you can’t control their actions, their words, their dealings despite the fact that they are a part of your life? Yeah. Ignoring someone’s stupid and infuriating habits is one of the hardest things that I’ve had to learn to do as an adult. Its so hard not to take on someone else’s stress, guilting-tactics and attitude.
I made a decision this week, however, that a wall needs to be built so that I, myself, don’t end up as insane. I can’t deal with it. I don’t want to deal with it, and I am going to adopt a “today is not the day” to mess with me tactic, every single day. That way, I don’t have to be rude, mean or nasty, I can just go about my business being polite but firm and making the person understand that I am not a punching bag, a gossip line or a counsellor nor will I agree to wear any other hat that has been chosen for me.
3. Mental Health Issues
I really debate whether or not to mention this here. Like all people who suffer mental health issues, we have a tendency to keep them at bay; well-hidden, so that no one can treat us any different nor will they see us as weak or embarrassing for sharing struggles.
As I keep joking with a friend; the struggle is real, son.
I’ve always had issues with anxiety before I was even a teenager and unfortunately it sometimes spirals out of control and then the issue of obsessive compulsive tendencies come in to play. I am lucky to be a very logical-thinking person that can discern emotional logic from intellectual logic. I know people always joke about OCD or when you mention an OCD tendency, they will try to tell you something that they do that is “OCD”, but no. It makes me want to punch them, actually, lol. You don’t have OCD unless that one obsessive thought is dominating your entire day to the point that you are awake in the middle of the night. I’ve driven back home before after making it around halfway to work just to triple check all the power points in case something happens while I’m gone.
When I leave the house, my little “security detail” game can take up to 20 minutes (or more) if I am feeling particularly anxious. OCD is not essentially about cleaning or counting or opening and closing doors a certain amount of times (though it most certainly can be) but it is more about an obsessive thought or behaviour that makes us feel like if we don’t engage it, the outcome will end in something unspeakable. Or at least that’s how it is in my case. It’s like having the responsibility of every single person that you love and care about on your shoulders and if you don’t carry something out correctly, you are compromising them. It’s irrational, its insane but its just the very nature of the illness.
Again, thankfully I am logical enough to talk myself around it on most days, or I have other people around to assure me when I’m being irrational. These things only occur for me when I’m feeling anxious, it all seems to go hand-in-hand.
Another great one that joins the anxiety & OCD party is depression. Someone once questioned the existence of depression in my life but really I’ve kept that part of me very well hidden for a very long time as most people who suffer depression do. I know the difference between being ‘down’ and being depressed. When you lay in bed and cry for days over nothing or, really something you can’t place your finger on, something is not normal. When you feel numb and have no emotion or no real concern one way or another about anything that is going on, you are depressed. When it lasts for longer than few days with no end in sight, you are depressed.
Again, I am lucky to be a logical thinking person who understands the cycle of depression, or at least my own cycle with it. It can be fleeting for me, I used to think it was hormones because I could set a clock by it at times, however, it comes with anxiety and the OCD and I didn’t link those two together before. I know that my depression bouts last for a couple weeks and there is always a tipping point where things feel okay again. Its almost like magic. For the past three weepy weeks, I went to bed three nights ago feeling upbeat and purposeful and relieved knowing its gone again and hopefully the periods between get longer and longer apart as they have been for the past few years.
But unfortunately I have no control over when or where or how my illnesses hit me, and its something that I have to accept. I am not embarrassed, I am not ashamed, but I really do need support during those awful, dark times that seem to take over me for short spells.
I really believe in voicing mental health issues, they are too isolating to deal with alone.
I have come to live in fear of the constant surprise of spiders all over my house. Do I want to kill them? Yes. Am I afraid they are going to crawl through my mouth and hair and body while I sleep? Absolutely. Did I just see the largest cockroach in existence last night out in the yard? Why yes, yes I did.
Do I regret being an Australian for this very reason?
5. Other people’s opinions.
Can’t pay people to think logically these days, can you? And I tell you, its a true shame. I have witnessed so much good shit on facebook this week, and by that, I don’t really mean good as much as I mean entertaining.
A nasty fight between two people over… well, I’m not totally sure. F-bombs were dropped, empty threats were made, a plague upon one’s house sworn by another… And I laugh. Laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. But the ones that rile me up the most are the inexperienced, incapable of opinion people who start shooting down those who follow professional advice/practices. I read a scary infuriating rant toward a person for taking a chemotherapy avenue. Cancer doesn’t exist, big pharma are out to get us, I know this because I saw the Michael Moore documentary once and so now I’m suspicious of everything because Michael Moore is a raging leftwing pinko with an one-eyed opinion so it must be true. Someone who needs chemo doesn’t need your opinion on what you think it does, that you think its killing them.
Cancer kills too as so evidenced by the millions of people who have died from it.
And anti-vaxers… I know I have no control over them, but I wish I could take them and their so-called google-founded research to a place huge field full children who have suffered communicable and fatal diseases and show them what their harmful opinions cause.
And now that I’ve vented my spleen, I feel better and have to go to work. Be good, if you’re not okay, don’t be afraid to say it (but don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to hear whinging and complaining all my life, ain’t nobody got time for that).
Some weeks you just wish you were able to bury your head under a pillow and will it to start over, or at least pass as quickly as possible without bothering you for a moment.
This week I’ve managed to cry on about three or four different occasions, which in hindsight were pretty superfluous reasons. I cried on my way home from work monday night, I cried in to my dinner on tuesday night and went to bed having a wet-eye over something else later that night. And then something happens that puts things in to perspective.
Then I cried yesterday because one of my close friends was delivered some awful news which made me come to a few realisations. We can never relax. Both our Mums have been sick in the past with cancer and with every doctors appointment, every lump and bump and oddity in health we panic. Anxiety bleeds in to our lives with every routine check up and for that week previous we will find it hard to sleep or find ourselves praying as we go to sleep, begging almost, for everything to still be ok.
When I was younger and I had some serious surgery, I was at an age where I started to understand mortality. As a result, every 6 month check up had me in the throes of full-fledged anxiety attacks. I could barely deal with it. I remember each time a specialist walked in for his morning check-up, I would stop hearing the doctor jargon, my palms got tingly and my heart rate began to soar. I would panic any time I had to go for an unrelated appointment including a GP. I could never relax. And that anxiety didn’t go away really for at least 7 or 8 years.
And its back again as an adult because of what I’ve dealt with with my Mum. And I know she feels it too. Each time she tells me she has a pain or an ache, we both start to panic. I am probably a lot more rational than she can be because I’m not living in her body, but its very hard to ever relax. Its just something that we have to live with now.
The frustrating thing about it all was that nobody cared. And I don’t mean that as though, “I had no friends, they were all cold bastards who didn’t support me,” because thats absolutely not true. I had great support. My partner who I had only been with for, not even a month (I don’t even think we were officially together), was the best. He was 100% the best support I could have asked for and I will always hold that very close to my heart and aside from him, as he was living it with me, others were able to say, “I’m sorry that you’re going through this” and then move on and their world kept spinning.
It sounds ridiculous and immature and during the time perhaps I acted a little that way, but I felt some days like screaming, “HOW THE HELL IS YOUR WORLD STILL SPINNING??? CAN’T YOU SEE MY MUM IS SICK AND IM SO DEVASTATED!!!”
And it hurt. At the same token, I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me or give me that look of sympathy, but I wanted something. I wanted someone to say the right thing, but as time has gone on I’ve learned that it was an impossible demand that I had as there is never going to be the right thing to say in this situation. Of course people’s world’s are still going to spin, the same way mine has when other people have shared awful, devastating news with me. I’ve felt bad, offered my ear, my prayers and have been sincere in my empathy but have still, essentially got on with my daily life.
If you’re not living it, you’re not seeing it and how can someone ever possibly grasp that pain without living it themselves?
So the other day I was crying because of work-related issues (nothing serious), I was crying because my body image is terrible at the moment and my self-talk is borderline abusive sometimes. I was crying because I missed my partner and I was crying because I have an upcoming cardiologist appointment that I’m anxious about — and again, something that after 30 years you’d think I would have adapted to, but no, I’ll never relax. Some could be valid tears and the others tears were simply a free for all, a sort of, ‘stacks-on!’ game of problems. Either way, someone else can’t be held accountable for my emotions when they haven’t walked in my footsteps and lived my life in the same way that I can’t be expected to do the same for someone else.
But at least I can support the friend that, in the past, before my Mum was sick, I didn’t understand or know how to. I was one of those people who probably delivered a sincere well-wish and sympathetic thoughts, but walked away in to a world that was still spinning while hers was probably shockingly slowing right down. I don’t feel great that I had to go through what I did to understand, but I can at least now deliver the sentiments and feelings of empathy that I sometimes needed (which she provided to me) and can truly understand.
That’s something… While my world may still be spinning, it doesn’t drift far from my mind…
So this Holy Week, please pray for my friend and her family and also for my Mum and her continued good health and for using the right words to support those who are in need of someone, regardless of their circumstances.
If you ask any of my friends, they will tell you that I appreciate the kind of books that can leave the reader feeling emotionally traumatised, low and border-line depressed. In other words, books that give you a perspective of a situation or world that is so utterly believable that it sucks you in, and for a short period of time you can forget your problems and become absorbed in someone else’s
However, I could probably hang out on Facebook on a saturday morning to enjoy someone else’s woes too, but that’s besides the point.
I recently co-read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green with my friend. We were reading it simultaneously and referring back to one another as a sounding board for thought. Originally, I was apprehensive about reading this book for various reasons, I felt like it might be too close to home and would trigger some feelings and thoughts about my own experiences, but quickly I was captivated by the story and found that my friend and I closely related to many of the thoughts and feelings of this very sick main character.
It was a beautifully and painfully honest narrative of life both with and without dignity, of illness, sadness hope and acceptance. It was written with good humour, dry and dark at times and made both my friend and I take a look at some of our own learned habits of dealing with our medical issues. This, in turn, made me think about my own experiences and how I’ve coped — whether or not those coping mechanisms are helpful or if they are more of a hindrance.
As a child who’s had lots of illnesses, you grow up with an understanding or at least a basic grasp of things that other children your age won’t / can’t understand, and that in its very essence sets you apart. Personally, for as far back as I can remember, I have resorted to a good sense of humour to take away the seriousness off of what was going on. You can’t really talk about it with your peers because most other 7 or 8 yr old children don’t understand the weight of what it means to have an awful respiratory system. Nor can another child commiserate with you over unending hospital visits, tests, scans, xrays and more.
I have congenital heart defects. To be clear; hyper plastic left heart syndrome, atrial septal defect, secondary pulmonary hypertension and then the old case of the missing left lung. I could explain what each of these things do (or what they cause my heart not to do) but its boring. The short and long of it is that my heart works overtime and it sounds like steam machinery through a stethoscope. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s the old scoliosis (spinal curvature), portal hypertension, another case of a missing kidney, renal issues (ever had a really bad bladder infection? yes, imagine living with one… constantly…) and then theres this one, and my friends love this gem; the fused vertebrae in the mid-thoracic region.
Amazingly enough, I’ve only had two major surgeries to date and one of them wasn’t even on my heart. I have had countless heart procedures (please don’t ever confuse surgery with procedures a cardiac catheterisation is not a surgery, its a routinely performed day procedure to check out your ticker. You’ll be OK.) and apart from those two things, the way I am affected does vary. I lose my breath very quickly. I can’t run. I get sick for a lot longer than the next person. I am prone to chest infections and it is very hard for me to cough without sounding grim or, really feeling grim. Walking, some days, physically hurts and I can’t stress this enough to those who grow impatient with me about it (which happens more than I realise in retrospect). It hurts in my chest in a way that I can’t really verbalise. I explain it by telling someone that how they must feel after running at a high impact speed is how I feel just walking without rest. Any mild incline and I’m doomed. I’ve grown up with specialists coming out the wazoo. Heart specialists, lung specialists, respiratory specialists, renal specialists, orthopaedic specialists, urologists, etc, etc… Years of being someone’s guinea pig, receiving a raised eyebrow and an, ‘oh wow, so you’re special!’ after hearing my medical history — um, get out of my face, idiot. I’m not even on medication! …And people say there is no God!
So yep, life hasn’t always been roses. I did grow up in my teens with a very, very cynical attitude and the feeling from coming from knowing that you’re different made me constantly feel sorry for myself, asking why me? Why am I the ‘lucky’ / ‘special’ one… I marginalised everyone else’s issues and behaved like a bit of a brat toward those who had problems that may not have been to the same weight of what mine were or at least seemed. I found it hard to make friends especially during high school because I spent many months too busy with a life-saving liver bypass.
Oh yeah, sorry guys, couldn’t make it to your 13 yr old spin-the-bottle party, I was too busy having my guts ripped apart, hope you understand!
It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I learned other people’s pain is only measured by what they have experienced to date. Yanno, another person’s sore toe is another person’s broken leg. It is very rare that I judge a person for getting upset over something that may seem silly to me, it doesn’t help anyone to belittle what they find to be hard to deal with.
My health issues have been, for the most part, ‘invisible’, as in — from my cute-as-f…. exterior, you can’t really see my health complications (save for that blasted scoliosis). You will notice that these complications didn’t effect my ego, but that’s another story. This is a help and a hindrance. Finding a job when I was at my unhealthiest was difficult and as a result, I’ve taken a bit longer than others my own age to kinda get my shit together in life. Having an ‘invisible’ illness means that because someone can’t see it, naturally means, it doesn’t exist. Therefore, any bullying I endured because of the illnesses were tolerated by teachers, even when it became physical (the deaf girl who got teased the one time that I witnessed, was not met with the same diffident, unphased attitude, to say the very least). Also, with a so-called invisible illness, other kids didn’t understand why I got to ‘have fun’ and sit out of most sports activities, or why I couldn’t go on school camps and such.
Still to this day, I fear walking with someone I don’t know very well, instead of asking to slow down and being met with a look of, ‘jeez, you lazy unfit bastard,’ I keep up until I feel like I want to pass out or start seeing sparkles…And you know, I’ve learned its never a good thing to see sparkles that aren’t really there.
Childhood illness effects everyone in different ways. I wore my scars as a badge of honour (and still do). My liver bypass scar is something that feels a little triumphant to me. This was the scariest time of my life. I will never forget how my entire being was encased in fear leading up to surgery, and how it seemed every doctor’s appointment that proceeded the surgery was met with a level of anxiety that probably shouldn’t be experienced by a tween.
The worst part that nobody my own age got it. Nobody knew how it felt to be laying on a bed for weeks in pain and in irrational fear of haemmorhage or worse. I couldn’t relate to anyone my own age and began to take a step back from social situations. And bullies? There were an immeasurable amount of those, but that kind of thing could have an entirely different blog of its own.
And then there was the cynic in me that liked to use my dark sense of humour to make others feel uncomfortable. I still do this to date. As my friend and I agreed, there is a small part inside of us that takes a giant amount of satisfaction in making a person feel a little uncomfortable and unsure of how to respond to a joke that reeks of honesty. Perhaps its our own nasty way of making others feel the slight of our own daily thoughts — who knows? Either way, I can take a joke, many in fact, about my missing organs and my unfortunate head-butting of the shallow-end of my family’s genetic pool…
Cos honestly? If you don’t laugh, you cry.
Jokes about my ego aside, my self-esteem did take a massive fall in my early adult-hood. I was a bit of a shut-in and had no grasp on how to be social (and if you had asked me, I probably didn’t really care about it). That could be surprising to some, considering at this point in my life, I find it much less difficult to deal with people. I actually remember going to a party at 19 and asking a person the same question twice right after he finished answering it the first time because I hadn’t remembered that I had even asked (nor had I listened to the answer) because I was so obsessed with what the next thing I should say was going to be. And I successfully became the weirdo in the corner playing snake on her Nokia 3310 after the incident.
I don’t like crowds. I don’t like being left alone without knowing anyone in social settings and I’m still a bit awkward at accessing and initiating conversation with someone that I don’t know, but considering some days I was too scared to call a call-centre to ask for an account balance, or to make a doctors appointment, I think I’ve come a decent long way. In fact, last week I made 12 sales calls to random customers and managed to charm my way through it. On the same day I was told by a customer that I was very lovely and that she was grateful that she had chosen to come to my branch. Not a bad wrap for a creepy, isolated shut-in, hey?
One thing that did haunt me, was that I truly believed that I would never be a success at anything. I felt like I was going to feel alone forever and would not find anyone who would get me, find my quirks to be positive qualities or that I was really good-enough for a person to be with forever. It still pains me to admit that, because these are the kind of things growing up with constant illness will make you believe.
‘Oh jeez, I can barely get up these steps without wanting to pass out, how on earth can someone love me!” … I know, I know, irrational because quite frankly, I’m hilarious and wonderful and positive and giddily confident when it suits me… Not to boast or anything.
And I spent all of those early adult and late teen years not liking myself and assigning myself to a bleak, lonely future that I began to really believe my own hype. Self-talk is a pretty powerful thing, not to sound like Tony Robbins from the late night infomercials, or anything, but its true. I kinda just turned about 24 or 25 and thought, ‘Well, shit. Life is not changing, man, you can’t run away from yourself, so… best you start getting used to yourself.’ and I did. I became comfortable with who I am, what I’ve endured, how I perceive myself and the parts of myself that I am proud of. And, I found that there’s a lot of things on that list. Today, I have a lot of pride in who I am which is not an easy thing to admit out loud (or typing on the digital, public sphere).
I have had three lasting friendships since I was 12 years old that have all stood the test of time and in my early twenties I made another group of friends and then I began to travel, and I made even more friends and I developed independence that gave me the confidence to know I could do things on my own. I have a very large set of good and close friends to date. I have friends who are a large range of ages (the oldest friend of mine is nearly 65) who all love me more than I sometimes give them credit for.
To be honest, I feel like people who grow up with illnesses are challenged greatly by either becoming their illness — and by that, I mean, choosing to make it the thing about you that defines your very being, or choosing to define yourself for other reasons in spite of your illness. I don’t want anyone to ever see me and think, “oh yeah, the one lung girl” (but I’d probably laugh if someone did actually greet me in such a way).
I would prefer someone to say, “She’s pretty awesome” and let that be that.
Currently this what my life consists of; a budding career in finance, running and editing my own magazine, the best parents and brother, an amazing, wonderful partner, my lovely circle of friendships both near and far, the cutest sausage dog (that isn’t even a daschund) and something in side of me that is always inspired to want to do things for good causes. Not only this, but I do have a deep faith in God, something that I don’t always preach about, but I believe that I’m being watched over.
And maybe that’s why both my friend and I enjoyed The Fault In Our Stars so much, because it showed the dark reality of becoming your illness and the helplessness that’s involved in being in that place, and trying desperately to get out of that headspace.
This book sort of took me back to that angsty teenage girl that I was at 16, and sometimes still find myself being. For the most part the person I am today is not defined by my experience; if anything the experiences of illness and the realisation of mortality at a very young age has made me appreciative of life and has inspired me to do things that will count. Not just for me, but for those who love me and for those who need a friend and even for those who may be reading this and relating to everything I’ve written but not quite knowing how to express it.
You should never be your illness.
* The first picture is of me after surgery at 18 months old. Looking quite dapper, I must say. ** The second picture is of a tattoo my friend suggested I brand myself with. So sweet, so uplifting. *** The third picture is of me at 25 yrs old with my good friend, Megan. **** The forth picture is of me at 27 yrs old, really taking good care of my heart with some chilli fries.