Grief… & Other Associated Stress

There is no measure of time that it will take for a person to overcome the grief of losing someone who is directly related to them; this I have learned first hand.

It has been almost four months since my Mum passed away. Four long months since I saw her face, heard her laugh, teased her with something totally inappropriate or since she commented on something she saw on one of her favourite TV shows. This seems like forever ago, yet there is a conflicting passage of time that makes it seem like yesterday that she was at full capacity and we were shopping together, having Wednesday lunches together or that I was staying at her house most nights of the week so we could watch Masterchef together where I would live tweet her hilarious commentary.

It seems like not that long ago that I was doubled over in pain, food poisoned or suffering a severe case of gastro where she was taking care of me, loaning me money to afford a “real” (non medicare) doctor at the end of my pay cycle and shuttling me to and fro and making me food until I felt better. The normal comforts of having a mother that loves you unconditionally.

It has been almost four months since my Mum passed away and all I know is that the pain of that loss has hit me with a weight that I can’t quite aptly convey to anyone else that’s in my life. No one can ever understand the love between my Mum and I because they were not part of it. I regularly dream of her and sometimes they end in nightmares and other times I wake up feeling thankful that I’ve had the chance to see her and that she hasn’t faded from my memory. I am thankful that I haven’t yet forgotten how she smelled or how it felt to be comforted by her.

Sometimes I feel that when I talk about her, people become glazed over because they kind of expect that because it’s almost been 4 months, I should be ‘almost’ over it — or that my pain should have dulled at least.

The truth is that I don’t think I will ever feel less pain about my Mum’s passing. The guilt of what I ‘could’ have or ‘should’ have said or done will never pass (despite the fact that I did a lot and I know she would never accuse me of any different). Four months may have almost passed by quickly, but the immediacy of her passing required me to be level-headed, emotion-free and diligent in planning a funeral, taking care of bits and pieces, letting everyone know, and allying everyone else’s sadness by pretending I was totally okay with the new reality of a life, motherless.

Because of the fastness in which my Mum passed, I can see how shell-shocked we all were in hindsight — perhaps that was attributed to all the denial we faced about her condition. Nevertheless, the three weeks of work that I took off didn’t really give me the time I needed. Again, in hindsight, it might have been smart to go back to work immediately and rather take the time when I began to feel the weight of losing her — like now.

I try to recall the good memories; but they even make me sad with the reality that we will never have the chance to create anymore.

Along with the other monsters in my head, intruding upon the normal functionality of a brain, I go to sleep with this sadness every single night and wake up feeling the weight of the loss as I try to turn the music up to drown it all out as I get ready for the day. When I get in the car and in those moments that I am alone, I find myself either having to listen audio books, or else endure the tears and the stupid guilt.

As a result the silly thoughts begin and I have to try to bargain with myself with a routine or compulsion just to ease it off; like a superstition. It starts with one thing and it domino effects in to a thousand things and before I know it, I can barely get out of bed, wracked with grief, depression, intrusive thoughts and feelings that not another person will ever be able to ease save for the presence of my Mum who was really the only person I trusted to tell me the truth without getting angry or frustrated with me — even if it was sometimes cutting and blunt.

It isn’t that I don’t feel like I can’t talk to people about it, my family and my friends have been so good — but I find it hard to talk about it without being aware of their discomfort or lack of words that will make me feel better. Nothing makes it better and I don’t think it ever will.

Just this week I have felt off — unsure if it is just stress of grief or genuine sickness, I took myself off to the doctors three times and each time a different outcome ensued. Yesterday I had a blood test and had to wait for the results. After hours my doctor called me back and I missed the call by around 4 minutes so she left a muffled voice message that I couldn’t distinguish and something about coming back but also the word ‘mild’ was heard somewhere — regardless of the logic that bad news wouldn’t have been allowed to be left in a voice mail, I went in to melt down. Because it was after hours, I couldn’t call back without it going to an answering message service and I lost my shit for a good hour.

I suppose the point of this is to just acknowledge the fact that there truly is no allotted time that one must adhere to when it comes to grief and its okay to lose your friggin’ marbles for as long as it takes to feel better again.

In fact, when the funeral and the flowers and the well wishes and the shock dissipates, the gravity of the loss hits hard. As funny as it is, I feel like this quote is apt and it’s from Michael Scott so I know my Mum would approve:

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..I mean, if we were talking about trying to put it in to words and all.

The other things I’ve learned about grief and loss is that people do say some stupid shit to you. The nurse taking care of my Mum immediately after her passing told me this as she comforted me and I knew it was true in the moment but I didn’t know just how true until someone tried to tell me to stop talking about my Mum because I was torturing myself.

I’ve learned that talking does help sometimes but in my case, writing is a release too and so if you are reading this wondering why I’ve done a violent overshare of emotions, then I will tell you it is because it is good for me and at this point in time, I am taking care of myself because unfortunately despite my age, my mother isn’t here to help me do that anymore.

Also, grief sometimes doesn’t show up immediately. For me, I didn’t feel it; didn’t get it. I didn’t cry after leaving her that night. I didn’t cry at her funeral, really. I was able to smile and laugh and joke and continually tell everybody how chill I was about my Mum dying. And for a little while, I truly believed my own hype.

Until of course, the grief did hit…

Moving on from the loss of someone is actually impossible, but adjusting your life to a lifetime without an important person in it, is possible with time. The pain won’t ever pass, I don’t think. And there are days that I’m sure in 10 years time that I will take to just cry and remember her, but I am hoping that what I am going through currently will pass in its due course.

But right now, I miss my Mum so much that it is painful to think about her and thinking about her makes it literally hard for me to breathe.

(She is probably wishing she could give me “a clip ’round the earhole” as I write this).

So yeah, that’s where I am at. Now I’m off to avoid life by nose diving in to yet another book.

Back from hiatus after losing my Mum

Hi everyone,

I’m back, I think.

Although, given what’s happened I don’t know if I’m ready to be back at anything, so time will tell as to whether or not I want to take more time away from regular life and given that I didn’t have a superficial relationship with my Mum, my loss is great, I don’t know if I know what regular life feels like anymore.

But I’ll try.

Where I left off: 

On October 10th my Mum had two massive seizures which changed the course of what life my day-to-day life was and she never came home from hospital.

I had my 33rd birthday on the 14th.

On the 15th, I had a trip to go to Queensland with my cousin booked. I debated for a week and some as to whether or not I go and my stepdad and I agreed that there wasn’t really much I could do at home, so I went for my 5 day trip. I don’t regret going, but I did spend most of my time there feeling guilty about not being with my Mum. In hindsight, I don’t regret going because what was waiting for me back home when I returned was something I may have not been able to emotionally manage without that break.

I spent a lot of time in between trying to read different books for blogging purposes but found nothing that held my interest — perhaps this was more to do with my state of mind rather than a problem with the books.

After my trip my time was spent literally every second day driving back and forth to and from the hospital where my Mum was located and trying to keep myself together enough to visit her without falling apart, continue working without letting anyone down, combating my mental health, trying not to direct the anger that I felt toward my friends or my boyfriend and … breathe.

On November 6th my Mum passed away in a way that was both expected and unexpected. We had all hoped and prayed that she would turn a corner and be well enough to come home after treatment. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be.

The important thing was that my Mum was surrounded by the most important people in her life for the last few days and was cared for beautifully by unforgettable staff of the facility where she was being kept comfortable. It devastates me that we were unable to bring her home like she so desperately wanted to be, but it just wasn’t to be. She passed away in our arms, quite literally and there wasn’t a single other way I would have wanted it.

I think if it weren’t for the support from my family and friends, I would probably be in a heap somewhere…

Even writing the words above are hard to do without falling apart. Again.

In between all of that, I was incredibly sick and it turned out that I actually had pneumonia. My brother and I suspect it was due to the fact that I slept in the cold, baron part of my Mum and Stepdad’s house with cold, wet hair after we left the nursing home for the last time. The weekend she passed happened to be one of the coldest mornings that I can remember. I slept minimally for the next few days which probably didn’t help – running purely on adrenalin until the funeral passed.

I’ve only just come out the other side of being sick but I still can’t stop coughing when I’m in the middle of a fit. Not fun.

My friends stayed at my house and were great for laughs and for someone to try all the places where I wanted to eat but didn’t want to go alone.
My workmates were incredibly supportive and some went as far as feeling the weight of my sadness and helping out in practical ways.
My cousin helped me plan out my goals and plans going forward week-to-week, month-to-month, year-to-year.
My boyfriend has been endless in doling out his affections, support and love as usual, even if it’s not always fun for him — or really either of us.
Everyone else has been amazing in offering support in kind ways, practical ways and emotionally.

My cousin stayed the longest, offering her pragmatic support which has been good at keeping my mind busy so that when life does feel a bit normal again, I can do all of the things that I have wanted to do but didn’t get the chance because I was 1, emotionally exhausted, 2, too busy with my Mum, 3, didn’t feel timing was right.

Tomorrow I go back to work for the first time in three weeks. I am unsure about how to feel about that or whether or not I feel ready, but I do feel like the routine is going to do me the world of good.

Afternoon drinking is probably not going to work out very good for me if I keep going as I am.

I started reading again this week, so I suppose a book review will be on the way and I plan to post some photos of the month and a half where life went a bit awry.

In the meantime, my cousin has been working really hard on our business so you could check that out — we have some really cool new products and if you use bfriday16 promo code, you can get 20% off until tomorrow. http://www.bigcuzlittlecuz.com

Retail Counter Bitches, Calm Down!

I am going on a mini holiday next week that to be honest, I am very ready for.

We are going to Queensland to catch some sun and some water and probably to drown our sorrows and no doubt give myself the world’s worst bladder infection that I’ll be crying about for weeks to come – but the state of my bladder is another story for another day.

hate shopping. I am in that phase where my clothes are a tiny bit too tight and nothing feels like it looks good on me. Ordinarily, I’m not overly self-conscious, but I am about to turn 33 in less than a week’s time and I am starting to feel a bit … yech.

I think it’s important for me to establish a few things;

retailI do not look my age. Not to be confused with I don’t think I look my age. I don’t. I am around 4’8ft tall. I act young and I look young as evidenced by every second customer who seems shocked when I tell them that I’m well introduced to my thirties.

I may be short, but I am a curvy little somethin’ somethin’. Even when I was at my thinnest, I had wide hips, a bubble butt and boobs. And to be honest, I don’t detest those things.

In saying all of that, finding clothes at the moment feels incredibly difficult and every shopping endeavour turns in to a saga where I feel ugly, huge and overweight. I am only a size 14 in the leg/butt area which to my understanding is a u.s size 12. I also have a small waist which makes getting paints, shorts or skirts a little annoying (a lot annoying).

I am not fat nor am I unfit for my health situation – I work out with a trainer almost every single week and then a couple times a week on my own accord. I squat like f… I have worked hard to turn my ass flab in to a well-toned, well-rounded behind that would make Kim K’s fake arse look ridiculous. I’m pretty proud of it, tbh.

However, I don’t have that A-type body. I’m not between the age of 16-21. I am not tall, lean or so fresh-faced with the aroma of fruit-scented lipgloss following me around that for some odd reason store-clerks seem to gravitate toward.

Today I was looking for some skirts, shorts or some cute t-shirts/tops to take away with me that would last me all summer. I also wanted to head to the MAC store so I could buy some lipstick, primer and perhaps a couple of other things. For this reason, I went completely bare-faced without make up so that the store-clerk wouldn’t have to clean make up off my face to try something for me.

I know, I know — what was I thinking? For your reference, this is who I am — curves and all:

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This is my trying on a pencil skirt which somehow ended up looking like a pair of tights but anyway, that’s another story.

I make my first stop at the MAC store. I won’t name which one it is, because I’m not an asshole like that — but basically looking like the above, I walked right up to the counter and requested the primer that I needed. (Bare Canvas, Mac Paint). Without a word, the girl, staring through me with her blank expression walked over to the drawer, pulled the stock out and went to head over to the counter to ring it up.

She then thought to ask (and last thought), “Is there anything else?”

“Yes please, I am just wanting to look at some matte lipsticks.” she walks me over to the lipstick counter and asked me what colour. I offer that I have a large collection of heaps of different shades of red. Like red red. She starts pulling out random browns and nudes — I was a bit confused, so I took them commented that they were nice but I was looking for a red. She shows me one, super red. I say that I like it, I decide to take it.

A young girl less than half my age walks up to the counter and I almost got left on my own without my items being rung up so that she could run and test make up on her. I asked her more questions like, how long does the lipstick last? I have been used to very good, long lasting lipstick. The whole time this girl stared over me like she was better than me, like she couldn’t believe she had to be subjected to such dumb questions.

“Depends on the person who’s wearing it….”

I almost rolled my eyes. Like, settle down, you’re working in retail for probably less than $20 per hour, you touch people’s disgusting faces all day long and probably, going by your need to only stretch yourself to teenagers, don’t sell much product. You hardly have the right to make me feel like I’m a nothing girl.

And actually? The lasting of a lipstick doesn’t depend on the person who’s wearing it. It depends on quality and how often someone smacks their lips, touch or lick their lips.

I wanted to try liquid eyeline, I wanted to buy a new blending brush. I wanted to try a new pigment — but given her urgency to ring me up and move me along, I left feeling both transparent and awful about myself.

My next stop was a store called Cotton On — I am not going to lie, the clothes here aren’t incredible quality. They are made specifically for skinny girls but I am able to buy some tank tops and stuff — their jeans go up to a size 14 and no larger which is laughable considering their idea of a size 14 is probably more of a 12. I have a big butt and wide hips, those jeans can barely make it past my friggin’ knees — so I should have known I was setting myself up.

I am not kidding, I roamed that store for a better half of 45 minutes. I tried on more than 15 things. I tried to persevere because usually if I don’t fit the first two things, I have a tantrum, a cry about my stupid body and promptly leave in a bad mood. While I roamed that store, I watched dozens of young girls get asked if assistance was needed in the change rooms, even looking for clothes on the racks … not a single time did anyone ask me if I needed assistance, even when I struggled to carry all the clothes back to the racks (um, I’m doing your job for you, you could at least help).

I found four things out of about 15 which I guess counts as a win, but not before I started to feel a lot of self loathe.

(This is why I spend money on make up and less on clothes, at least I can make my face better…..).

Finally after paying the vapid staff member who spoke only to tell me the price, I left for the surf store.

Ahhh hallelujah. A store clerk that wasn’t a total twerp.

She came up to me as I entered; can she help? I was honest. “I have tried on about 52 things next door, I was given pretty shitty service at MAC, my self-esteem is a bit on the low side right now, I am just looking for some stuff I can take on a break that I could also wear through summer; some skirts, dresses — shorts as long as they don’t make me resemble a Russian weight lifter…..”

She was the best. She started pulling things from racks, took me to the change room, was incredibly nice about it if it didn’t fit or didn’t look good — eventually I spent almost $200…

And that’s the fucking difference in customer service. Honestly, I wanted to go home to bed and cry after my experience at Cotton On. I felt deflated and disgusting and then the sweetness and helpfulness of one person who recognised that I was pretty close to feeling like tears went out of her way, probably beyond the means of her job title to throw clothes at me and humour me each time I turned them down.

As a result of her service, I spent a fair bit of money that I wouldn’t normally spend on clothes.

Because she didn’t look through me, she didn’t write me off as someone who had couldn’t afford clothes (seriously, do I look like a hobo? Don’t answer that…).

My friend who is in her 40s and I often have this conversation — why store clerks continually look through older people especially in the cosmetics industry. Doesn’t it make more sense that we are the ones who actually have the will and the finances to spend big? Doesn’t it make better sense that someone my age has the actual need for make up rather than a 15 yr old who wants to wear foundation 3 shades too dark for her skin and trowel on layers upon layers of cheap Priceline make up? Sorry, but most MAC Cosmetics in Australia is not cheap. It’s on the price-y side and a teenager would have to save their pocket money for a few weeks to buy one or two things…. Maybe have a better idea of who can reasonably spend more money.

I will probably avoid MAC Cosmetics counters and stores in the future and instead, will just buy it online — that way I can get my products without feeling awful about myself in the meantime.

But like, get off your high horse, you work in retail – if you don’t want to deliver good customer service, don’t be there. Don’t make someone else feel bad just because you are on your feet all day long with your face caked looking like a snap chat filter because its a requisite of your job. You don’t know what someone else is going through in their daily life, you don’t know what words or what actions are going to send them away feeling like a piece of shit.

Just calm down, you may have made me feel shit today, but you are not better than me for any of those reasons.

Anyone would think this is how I turned up today.

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Thanks to the lovely lady in Ozmosis for making me feel better.

Under Rose Tainted Skies – Louise Gornall

Under Rose-Tainted SkiesUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Under Rose Tainted Skies is a unfiltered look at a life consumed by the rigours of mental health issues.

Norah has OCD and agoraphobia. This book chronicles her daily struggles and turmoils of dealing with invisible medical issues.

This book resonated with me for two main reasons:

This is not an overly-dramatic, tragedy-on-top-of-tragedy style novel.

Mental health issues aren’t always caused by a specific trauma or event that you can connect right back to the first time you encounter anxiety (not saying it doesn’t, but its not even nearly always the case). I hate to read books where 62 thousand awful things have happened to the main character that has led them to the point where they’re dealing with issues only when the author can be bothered delving in to them.

In Under Rose Tainted Skies, Norah’s initial mental health issues were not brought on by some kind of tragedy. Even during the small positive moments that run through her subconscious, she is ruled by her illnesses. They never fleet far from the story and are written so acutely and finely that I found myself crying within the first few pages. I have never read myself so accurately before.

“I stand at the top of the stairs, close my eyes and try to make my mind go blank.

Don’t go back. Don’t go back. You don’t need to go back.”

and then,

I march back to my room, push the book in to its rightful position and then hate myself.”

I have written, in great detail, what my brain goes through on a very, very tough day — but maybe the passage written above is probably jus the tl;dr version.

It is very hard to find some kind of ‘entertainment’ medium that I find relatable to what I’m going through so when I come across it, I take hold and clutch it close to my chest and treasure it. Maybe it’s the whole misery-loves-company thing or maybe its the relief of finally being understood — either way, Under Rose Tainted Skies hits that chord with perfect precision. Louise Gornall is genius.

And, I’m not talking like, one of those flimsy Apple Fake Geniuses either…

the other main reason I loved Under Rose Tainted Skies so much;

Norah, the character of this book is not saved by a boy/man. 

I read one book about agoraphobia and anxiety recently (I won’t mention titles, you can read it and work it out if you like) and I wrote what I felt like, was a very kind review when I actually wanted to convey sheer irritation.

Boys cannot solve our fucking world of mental health illness. If anything, they generally bumble for the right thing to say and end up making it worse – much less, teenage boys. In the other book I read a boy came along and pretty much resolved the main character’s entire worldly issues including the deeper issue (the mother) as a subplot.

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The boy that comes in to Norah’s life doesn’t serve as her saviour. He serves as her friend; someone to speak to, someone to inspire her to take very tiny baby steps toward recovery. Luke is awkward, Luke says a couple of stupid things and he even does a couple of stupid things — but at least it’s realistic and Norah doesn’t suddenly seem to shed her OCD or agoraphobia the second she sets her sights on him.

Even touching hands with Luke for the first time proves to be traumatic and true to someone who suffers all of the issues that encumber Norah.

Impressively, Luke isn’t a means to an end of Norah’s mental health issues, he is helpful in terms of showing her that she is still worthy of being loved and proves to her that not everybody is going to label her or judge her for what she is going through.

I think what I loved the best about this story is that perhaps recovery is possible for some; but usually not for everyone and this story holds true to that. Norah does not magically get better. There is no skipping to the future to see her running outdoors with Luke to fly a kite or some shit, but the reader is left with a tiny grain of hope that the main character is taking all the positive steps forward to get along with life and cope with her illnesses the very best that she can.

This is what we all hope to be able to do when we feel debilitated by our very, very bad days — to just be able to cope.

Under Rose Tainted Skies is going to get a five out of five for me. Louise Gornall is my new hero.

View all my reviews

Things About Me

Here are some things about me that I am going to tell you, that you probably don’t know — or need to know.

1. This blog thing is a lifeline

I know it sounds so ridiculous, but at the moment I’m probably the most debilitated than I’ve ever felt in terms of anxiety and stress. I get anxiety crossing the road now, going up and down escalators and obsessive thoughts rule my mind on a daily basis… and while someone may have tried to marginalise what those anxieties/compulsions as “self-soothing”, I’d like to suggest that in fact, this blog is my self-soothing behaviour. Reading is my self-soothing behaviour.

I like writing, I like reading. I can avoid reality while taking part in both accounts. When everything else is tumultuous, I take comfort in this one thing. So, if you’re wondering why I’m not doing much else except blogging or reading, this is why. The things that I take comfort in are (and not always in this order), my boyfriend, my Mum, my dog, my best friends, my blog and writing.

2. I don’t like being backed in to a corner

Don’t make me feel bad about things I don’t need to feel bad about. Goodness knows, I am feeling bad about 91% of the time currently, so I don’t need to feel backed in to a corner about things that quite frankly, aren’t fair. When someone tries to guilt me or make me feel bad for something, I tend to extricate myself and become even more distant. If you’re in my life it’s because I love you and want you there, but at this point in my life it is very easy for me to pick apart the important from the not-so-much. I may have a track-record of being a push-over, but I don’t have the attention span that I used to and my tolerance levels are thread bare.

3.  I still don’t care what people think of me.

I don’t care what you think of me, my habits, my state of mind, my situation, my emotions, my friendships, who I decide to surround myself with or other. I am usually pretty self-aware, but I don’t care about judgmental people. If you roll your eyes at what I am doing with my spare time, I don’t care much about that either. If you think my hobbies are dumb or boring or if you have other ideas of what I should be doing with my time, just remind yourself, its my time, not yours.

4. Don’t tell me what to do or else I’ll cut you off. 

Harsh? Maybe. I spoke to someone last week (whom I hadn’t spoken to in about three weeks) who had been monitoring my social media activity. She asked why it’d been so long since I called. I said I had been busy. She replied, “not too busy for social media…” Honestly, I reeled myself in when all I wanted to do was to tell her to stop being such a friggin’ stalker. Maybe my time spent on social media is part of my version of “busy”, maybe as highlighted in point 1, self-soothing, however it may be is important for my sanity whereas talking on the phone and not distracting myself from my stress levels is not as important to me. If you’re monitoring my online activity and trying to use it against me, just save yourself. Again; MY TIMEWhether you regard what I do on social media as a hobby or not, its my time and I prioritise things as I see fit. Maybe she could have called me instead of spending so long on social media checking out my social media.

Petty, no?

Honestly, I have a lot of shit going on. I don’t have time or the emotional capacity for more shit when I’m barely keeping myself afloat. I have to sweet talk myself out of a cocoon of blankets every few hours or so, so… let’s just leave me be.

Mental Health Awareness

So JennyInNeverland is dedicating an entire week to posts regarding mental health awareness. I feel like this comes as a really timely reminder for those that I love to take care of themselves and do all that they can do to make sure they are not only physically well, but mentally well too.

This also applies to me.

Truthfully, I have been reading so much to block out just how trying and difficult things feel at the moment. We, as people who deal with MH issues can sometimes find the whole thing so shameful that we neglect to share any of that info with anyone — including the people that we love. And when someone does finally suggest help to us, we seem to bat it away, telling those around us that we know how to cope.

Until, we don’t know how to cope anymore.

I stopped going to a psychologist last year because I felt like I had the tools and strategies that I needed and I didn’t like the inconvenience of having to attend sessions in the hours that I wasn’t working. I didn’t like talking about how I felt, I didn’t like facing my most real fears head-on and I certainly didn’t care for crying uncontrollably in front of someone who is really just a stranger.

My panic attacks are triggered sometimes multiple times a day. They are triggered by sometimes seemingly innocuous things such as someone saying something to make me think bad thoughts. It might be a fleeting thought, a worrisome comment and so forth… And when the panic sets in, the OCD sets in and unfortunately the OCD takes form in about a thousand different ways now.  I’ve described my many forms of OCD before and how debilitating and exhausting it can be when I’m in the middle of it; and how illogical and hilarious it can seem when I am having a good day.

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Last week I felt a sense that I’d forgotten something. It felt as though I left my keys behind or my purse. I went through a mental checklist — but I knew it was nothing physical. It was like trying to scratch something I couldn’t reach. It drove me crazy and each time I went through the mental checklist for a physical item (keys, purse, phone, keys, purse, phone, repeat) but I knew that it was more psychological. I endured that feeling for two days straight of high anxiety until I calmed down to realise that only one thing could make me feel better and that was to actually go and see my Mum and if she was okay, then I’d be okay.

And it was.

The anxiety that these routines catapult me in to are senseless and harmful and incredibly intrusive and more than anything, exhausting.

The most common issue with medicated mental health illness is that when people feel okay, they stop and then the cycle begins again. I am personally not medicated at this point, but I know many who are and this seems to be something I’ve heard. I have never understood it since I don’t take myself off antibiotics or stop when I feel better…

However… I realised that I was doing the exact same thing with psychology. I feel okay, so I stop. And I know I feel better when I do go, but when I’m in a bad place, its the absolute last thing that I want to do — grovel back to a psychologist and shamefully explain that I need help again. Because each time I have to reach out, it feels like I’ve failed and I’ve let everyone down.

What’s upsetting is that this illness isn’t who I am and I don’t want it to define me, but it’s so consuming that most days it feels as though it already has. We, who suffer these kinds of MH issues, become masters of disguise. We hide our anxieties, compulsions, depression — whatever — so well that others can’t usually tell.

What I find triggering is how often I hear someone talking about how we make a choice to be happy, a choice to make a difference in our lives — but it is infuriating because if I could make a choice, I’d take away all of these intrusive and compulsive thoughts.

Fuck, some days I don’t even feel like I have a choice in whether or not I can get myself out of bed in a timely manner because I’m exhausted by how little sleep I’ve had the night before, or how intrusive the thoughts are…

So, I was inspired by two people in my life who took charge of their headspace and decided to get help. I was inspired by JennyInNeverland‘s Tweets to finally call a psychologist and start getting the help that I need rather than frittering away inside my blanket fort with far too many books while swearing to never leave until its safe to come out.

I will report back when I am of sound mind.

Book Blog and how I came to be…

I don’t always blog about books. If you go through my previous posts, you’ll see a few things about life, my family and my own internal struggles, but predominantly what you’ll read here are posts and reviews about the books that I’m reading.

If you go back on my blog a little over a year ago, you’ll find the few posts I made with my Mum’s returned cancer in her lungs. You’ll read the posts where I alluded to bad news but didn’t confirm it ’til a few posts later. It’s been a long, hard road over the past few years and more tears than I’ll ever allow anyone know.

You’ll also read my struggles with general anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Some days those issues are triggered harder than others. And generally my OCD symptoms change dependant on what has triggered it.

Quite honestly, there’s not a lot of things that can make me feel normal for a period of time where I can forget the parts of my reality that can sometimes feel overwhelming or upsetting. Sometimes I play play station because it requires all of my undivided attention and other times I binge-watch TV shows until my butt is sore from not moving.

But the one thing that feels calms me in a failsafe way are books. It requires all of my attention to read and I can suck myself in to an alternate world where I am looking inside other people’s worlds, giving me a reprieve from my own.

This is not to take away the fantastic love and support from my family, friends and partner, but sometimes there is only so much that they can do or say to make me feel any better. If anything, the situation is just as helpless for them as it is to me. I hate bothering people with my devastation and my tears, so I focus my energy on all of the books that I enjoy reading, in reviewing them and working on this blog.

As I’ve written on this site earlier: words are so powerful and when I am not reading, I am writing. In the same essence that writing sucks me in to another world, my own fictional writings make me create a world that I wish I could be a part of or one that helps me cope with the world that I am a part of.

Books are important to me especially at this point in my life. Reality is important too, but books have always been an important escapism in my life and since I’ve always loved blogging, book blogging seems to be mutually exclusive.

I hope stories will continue to take me from my reality just enough to forget for a little while, or at least renew my hopes when I feel hopeless.

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On The Other Side Of A Bad Week

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’m going to get my shit back together.