One Dark Hour

One Dark Hour.

Things are good in life. I have my Diploma, I have my pool, I have job prospects, I have good friends and a loving family.
I am on meds and should be stable and I am but the lately I have been teary at night and feeling a mixture of a heavy weight and a piece is missing.

I see beauty in things I never noticed before like a flower with so much detail and several colours or the way my cat sleeps with one eye open and follows me everywhere I go. I taste every bite of food and enjoy every mouthful (if it’s good) I make plans and am excited about what comes next… but then a wave of sadness and I can feel all the pain in the world for just a moment. As I cry I feel every inch of pain I’ve ever felt, every time I was let down by someone I cared about, every time I thought too highly of someone, every mean word the bullies said, everyone I have lost and every physical health issue. They flood my thoughts and my tears flood back and I am overtaken by it.

This mental illness is so evil. Even when things are good I can still feel so low. I allow myself an hour of being sad and then I have to put it away until tomorrow. If there is a big loss I give myself one day to mourn it then put it away.

I use grounding exercises to bring me back to right now and remind myself that things are good and that I have been through worse, and I am ok. I sleep and then wake up ok. During the day I am ok.

But every night the sadness creeps back in, the flood begins but I only let this beast have one hour. Then I close the flood gates and am a fully functioning stable human being.

I wish I could balance it with one hour of mania a day, oh man so many presents from eBay would come. But no!

I have it under control. I check in with my doctors and I am ok. This is just a thing I have to do now so that I can have 23hrs of ‘normalcy’ or peace. It’s a very fair trade.

I feel guilt and shame because I know people have it worse. I hate my dark hour but I need it to have light.

It never gets so dark that I want to leave. I want to live. Having the semi colon symbol has helped so much because MY story isn’t over yet. My story has many more chapters, many more happy days and only one hour a night off.

Study Girl

Anyone who knows me and my sister would tell you she was the studious one. I dropped out of high school while she got 99.5% on her HSC UAI, a scholarship to uni and completed a double degree and later her CPA. She always worked really hard and did really well. I was always jealous of her, thinking she was the smart one.
I was a high school dropout who barely scraped by. I hated studying, homework or any work. I liked the creative subjects and mostly lunch time. I never really admired how much work she put in to get the grades she did. I had difficulty concentrating for long periods of time. Well for any periods of time. School was hard. The social side of things also made things harder because I was more focused on trying to fit in rather than concentrate on class.

After I dropped out at 16 I did a chef’s course. I loved cooking and really enjoyed the practical side of the course but I didn’t do great in either the prac or the theory. I just wasn’t a student.

I did a director’s course and passed but not with flying colours and no with confidence about my future in film making.

I tried mini courses in French, drawing, writing etc and passed because everyone passed but nothing to write or draw home about.

I did a UPC at 21 – university preparation course in Psychology for a year twice a week to make up for not having an HSC. I got a credit even though I had a mental break down towards the end.

I did a hairdressing course but managed another break down and never finished it.

When I was 22 I did a childcare course at TAFE. I freaked out on my first day and had a full blown panic attack. Mum raced to save the day and negotiated with a great supervising teacher that I would do the course over a year part time instead of full time for 6 months and that I could have little breaks if I felt overwhelmed.
I got my first ever distinction. It felt good. I enjoyed the course and thought maybe I was ready for Uni. Ha.

At 23, Uni was a whirlwind of essays as long as your leg, tutorials with these teens that talk like they swallowed a textbook, lectures filled with hundreds of kids and anxiety and more reading than I have ever done in my life. It was so full on and I went back into old habits of thinking I was too dumb for this and panicking because deep down I knew I couldn’t do this. There was a part of my psych class that required me to do an experiment and the one I picked happened to be for inducing anxiety, wish they had told me that first because I would have told them there is no induction necessary. I freaked and spiralled and after 6 weeks of hell I quit.

After uni I focused solely on work and staying well.
After many years working with little kids I decided to study again.
Can’t say I’m not persistent.
I did a Youth Work course and knew early on that it wasn’t the path I wanted to follow but completed the course and stored the knowledge in my brain for future use. I went back to work in childcare.

I adored working with kids with disabilities and did a little online refresher childcare course. It was great, I watched little mini tutorials and answered some easy questions on what I had learnt and passed without a second glance. This made me feel that maybe I could study online, maybe I had the discipline we all doubted I had.

Stress caused my left ovary to twist and become septic and needed to be removed. When that happened my love of kids was also removed. I continued working with kids for a few years but never felt that bond. Kids became a sore spot and then became nothing. I knew I couldn’t stay in this profession.

I searched for a long time for my next move. As you have just read I have tried so many things. But what did I love? What would I be good at? What could I really see myself doing?

And then it hit – counselling. I love helping people, I’m great at listening and giving sound advice/guidance and I would make one heck of a counsellor.

I found a great online course, there are a few seminars down in Sydney but mostly it’s reading workbooks and filling in assessments then sending them off to be marked.
Not only am I killing it. I love it. I jump out of bed in the morning, get my bottle of water, open the curtains, prep my notes and spreadsheet of progress, I get my stopwatch app open and I sit down and read or fill in questions. I am interested and engaged. I really enjoy the context of what I am reading and learning and even the studying itself.
I’ve had 2 push backs but come back fighting and managed to get Competents in all 8 out of the 18 workbooks I have. After this I will have a diploma. Me a diploma. WTF? No one can ever call me dumb again. Most importantly I can’t call myself dumb again.

And the oddest part of me becoming a study girl? I’m considering doing the Bachelor’s Degree. Not for the credit or extra pay but because I want to learn. Weird right?

 

 

 

21 months later…..

So this high school dropout, who spent my youth being bullied and called stupid so many times I believed it; can no longer believe it!
I have a UPC in Psychology
I have a cert 2 in cookery
I have a cert 3 in children’s services
I have a cert 4 in Youth Work
And I now have a DIPLOMA in Counselling.
Not dumb. Not stupid. And not done. Contemplating doing a Bachelor of Psychology next.

I keep saying “no-one can ever call me dumb again” and people reply “no-one calls you dumb” but I did, I called myself dumb.
But not anymore.

Study girl out! Or am I?

At Some Point

At some point..
I have to accept I’m not like everyone else. I may not ever have a long term relationship. I may not have ‘the one’ I have to be ‘the one’ for myself.

Why do I keep falling for the men I can’t have? Why does it hurt so much more when they leave? Why do I always think they are the one for me? Why does it never work out? Why do I not care about the ones I’m with when I’m with them? How do I know they aren’t the one? Why don’t they break my heart?
Why wont anyone fight for me? Will I ever find true love?

Unplug and Recharge

Unplug and Recharge.

Day 1 of my farm stay at DUCKMALOI farm:

At 2:20pm I left home and it was smooth sailing to DUCKMALOI farm. Well, apart from the twisty turvy roads, the stunning view and cows but don’t get distracted because there is a monster truck behind me waiting to ram. After road works and school zones and 20km the truck over took me – going over 100km/h in a 60 zone. One part of me hoped he would crash, the other thought part thought better because if he crashes I would be delayed.
I arrived at 3:40. The rolling green hills are turning golden for autumn but still stunning.
And it is raining which is better than heat but I need my wellies before meeting the goats.
It feels so weird that the first thing I didn’t do was light up a cigarette. Seeing the beautiful balcony, that would have been my spot back in my smoking days, didn’t make me miss it. Made me want a beer though haha.

I unpack in the gorgeous cabin and soak in the views and the beauty then gear up for the goats. Wellies and raincoat and side bag for carrots.
I hear them before I see them “baaaaaaa”. I run to their area and they are the cutest but they don’t want carrots. So I get some pellets and grains and they gobble away. They then begin to eat my coat, shoes and pants but I don’t care. The owner, Susie says hello and lets me hold the bunny, who eats the zipper on my jacket but again I don’t care. Susie asks If I want to bottle feed the goats, does a pig something… whatever give me the milk. It was such a happy moment having two tiny goats drinking from bottles in my hands.
I took many photos today but not then, I wanted to enjoy the moment pure, not through a lens, plus had my hands full.

Had a wonderful long nap in the most comfortable bed. Normally I need pitch black and everything here is so sunny and bright but the bed swallowed me whole and rocked me to sleep.
The smells here are incredible. The air is amazing and fresh.

So now for one of the meals I prepared earlier and some mini TV (luckily I only want to watch channel 7 today as they don’t seem to get many channels) then back to this incredible bed.

After watching my shows and picturing myself living on the amazing farm in this beautiful cottage I decided to have a little look outside. I have never seen so many stars in my life. Magic by day, magic by night.

Day 2:
Normally on holiday I awaken at dawn but as I didn’t go to sleep til after 2am and as the bed is uber comfy I slept in til 10am. But then I jumped out of bed, made myself a sandwich, downed an OJ and grabbed the key and my bag. No phone today. I power walked down the path saying good morning to the animals but knowing where I wanted to start. Can you guess? Yep the goats. They don’t have names yet so the grey and white one I call Billy and I strongly feel the black one is Jack Black. They hoovered the seeds and pellets I brought and jumped all over me. Heaven. Then it was getting too hot and sunscreen I had forgot. So I said goodbye and as I left the enclosure they bleeted and cried and it nearly broke my heart. Then I walked past the old stables and saw some Thistle – a place after my own heart. And just stared at the cows and the scenery for what felt like hours. Then I turned around and a little white dog was at my feet looking at me saying: “come on I’ll take you back”. It was time to visit Misty the deer and her alpaca companions with some carrots.
So deer are this delicate mysterious quiet animal right? Well not when there is carrots and competition. Misty pushed the alpacas aside and gobbled the carrots as fast as she could. While distracted Amber, the caramel alpaca came in for a look, very shy she took tiny nibbles of the carrot until Misty moved her along and took the rest. Ebony the black alpaca is still hesitant of me and needs a carrot thrown his way and Misty distracted while he slowly nibbles.
Then the carrots are gone and the sun is getting hotter. Time to retreat. Walk back up the hill and across to my amazing little cabin.
It is so quiet here, deafening sometimes but also amazing.

So now back in my peaceful cabin avoiding the sun and getting ready to read a book. Thank you Elizabeth. Finally going to read ‘Catcher in the Rye’, on my beautiful deck.

Well that lasted one page. The bugs got too friendly so I moved back to my super comfy bed, read one chapter and fell asleep. I’m pathetic.
I do blame the sun though, sitting with the goats I caught some rays that made me sleepy. Or I’m just exhausted from life and this break isn’t just about farm animals it’s about undisturbed rest.

Oh and farm animals. I jumped out of bed just after 3pm and got into my farmy clothes and wondered back down the path to the goats. Got two mini buckets of feed and sat in the shade feeding “Billy” and “Jack” until they get names. Little guinea pigs had just been born and were running around the enclosure. The owner asked if I wanted to bottle feed them again, I said “always” and I did. They didn’t drink all the milk though as they had been fed many times by other visitors today. But I know from their bleets I was their favourite haha.
Apparently a calf has just been born – mental note tomorrow find that calf. And I noticed Donkeys in a far off paddock. I asked the owner how to get to them and where all the sheep had gone. The donkeys would take a bit of a walk to get to and the sheep had mostly been sold as they had grazed everything and there was nothing left for them to eat.
I left my beautiful new friends, the goats and gathered the needed carrots to feed Misty and the Alpacas. Misty was always hungry but the alpacas nibbled a bit and then turned away so I kept some carrots in my bag for tomorrow. Walking up the ever steepening hill I saw them, the beautiful donkeys. Lucky I had 2 carrots. They were so sweet but got bulldozed by a mini pony half their size for half a carrot. Obviously a mob boss.
I walked quickly back to get my phone and camera to snap shot these sweet donkeys but as soon as I got in: autopilot set in; shoes, socks, pants, top off, nightie on. And I’m back in bed. This is awesome.
A bit more Salinger and a bit more napping. Then TV o’clock, dinner, another beautiful sunset and a dvd.

But then this familiar sinking feeling… I want to go home tomorrow. I only wanted 2 nights but when they offered me another night free, I couldn’t say no. But now I wish I had. 2 nights away from the world is enough.
Tomorrow I’m gonna visit the animals again and then what? Nap? Read? Watch TV? All things I can do at home. Plus at home I have a giant TV, air con, a pool, my cats and my awesome parents.
I will see how I go tomorrow but I know that once this feeling sets in I’m done. It always happens; the first night is amazing, the second day is super fun til the second night of quiet makes you feel more alone than ever. Another night here might be a bad idea and take away all the joy this place has brought me.

After a nice chat with dad he pointed out I am here to relax and I am doing that very well. Tomorrow I will walk more and find new animals, after I visit my goats. Then tomorrow night dvds and reading.
Then Friday I will go home.
I will push myself to not take the easy way out and run home. I enjoy my own company so let’s roll with that.
Goodnight Farm.

Day 3:
The owner, Steve knocked on my door at 10am. Not that early but it felt like 6am. He brought a dozen eggs, sadly I no longer eat eggs and had to decline. He offered me to stay longer if I wanted.
He said there were bottles and goats waiting for me and if I was up to it we would take a bale of hay to the cows to find the newborn calf. Yes I’m up for it.

It is 2:20 pm and I have just had the best day ever.
After Steve picked me up he took me to the goats and after I fed them offered me a lemonade – 2 days no sugar, mmm yes please.
Then got chatting to Susie. They have great banter between them.
The 4 of us (Finch the dog came too) drove to the cow paddocks and Steve asked if I could open the gates (aahhh a real farm job) we fed a herd of cattle and met the new little bull. Then drove and saw thistle everywhere but it is a weed so I was the only excited one.
I helped (a little) build a swing for the goats and they have named it Tash’s swing. These awesome farmers gave me fresh eggs for my folks and veggies and plenty of soft drinks.
Then it was time to leave, I sensed it and needed it.
They both offered me to stay longer but I’m good, I doubt today could be topped.
My back is quite sore but worth it. Nap time I believe and if I’m not too shattered I need to get a pic with the Donkeys later, but maybe tomorrow?
Best day ever.

I napped and then went to the Donkeys. I can’t leave without some pictures of them for mum. Then I came back watched dvds, ate spag bol and packed.
I just took one last look at the incredible sky and said goodbye to the stars, I doubt they can hear me but they meant a lot to me on this trip. With the animals, the beautiful scenery and the kindness of the owners this trip has been perfect.
Ignoring the moment of anxiety or loneliness last night, which I am glad I pushed through. Today really was amazing. It’s gonna be hard to top this.
Last night in paradise.

Day 4: home – recharged and plugged in.

Dreams cost

Dreams cost!

My dream was to have a pool. I always wanted to be able to swim everyday, without sharing and calm down in water big enough to hold me. Floating slows the racing thoughts. Laps work out aggression. Exercises help my aching back and knees and the whole thing helps my anxiety.
So finally after over 20 years I got my dream come true. But it came at a price, two in fact.
My grandfather passing and leaving an inheritance to build my dream and my hair.
The pool never had the right chemicals and the chlorine was always too high, we didn’t know. We took a sample to Penrith to be tested every few weeks and they sold us many chemicals, the last visit even telling us to up the chlorine.
My long curly red hair turned yellow and green and started to fall out in batches. Then it got shorter and shorter and eventually I decided to shave it all off and start fresh.
We got a different company to sort the chemicals, draining the pool a few times but now I swim daily in peace with my short short hair.

Shaved!

 

Suicide Levels

Suicide Levels

There are levels to suicidal thoughts, in my opinion.
I can get quite dark and think about life being pointless and horrible and have a fleeting thought of opting out so I will stop myself and do something: paint, draw, write, anything to distract the thoughts.

The next level for me is darker thoughts; heavier, all I can think about is how, when and where and then guilt of those I’d leave behind. This is when I have to get into water: a pool, a bath, a shower or even hold an ice cube. This works for me may not for you.

The next level is hysterical tears, no sleep, my heart hurts, my brain is black and I am staring at my “tools” and so close: this is red alert. Call parents/best friend/000

I have been hospitalised at both private and public hospitals and each have good and bad qualities, but at the end of the day they saved my life.
“;” that symbol means so much more to us who suffer with these horrid thoughts. “My story isn’t over yet”
Draw the semicolon on your wrist and look at it every time you want to die and remember: you are not alone, things will get better and your story isnt over yet.

Both and Neither

Both and neither

I feel like I’m manic and depressed at the same time. On one hand I’m crying and feeling worthless and that life is pointless or too hard or too painful or just not worth living. Then on the other hand, 5 seconds later I’m on eBay shopping for stuff I don’t need, having racing thoughts and vivid dreams when I eventually sleep. I can’t sleep and it’s now 6 AM and not the first time this week I’ve been up this late/early. Thoughts racing, anxious, worried about money which is something I never cared about, worried about the future and what will happen next once I finish my diploma, and will I find what I’m really looking for? Does anybody ever really find what they’re looking for?
So now I don’t know what to do: if I was just manic I would lower my antidepressants if I was just depressed I would opt out of the presence of lettuce (this is what AutoCorrect did and I think that it’s perfect, you get the point anyway.)
Do I need to talk to my psychiatrist about changing meds? do I need to talk to my doctor about my moods? do I need to talk to a psychologist just to get my head around all the changes coming my way? or do I just need to wait until this evil heatwave is over and I can breathe again? Maybe it’s the pain: my knees are causing crippling pain and hopefully my new physio will help but until then pain, no sleep and racing thoughts and uber tears. January 2018 is gonna be a blast.

“It can’t rain all the time”

‘The Crow’ said it right: “It can’t rain all the time”

Suicidal thoughts are often fleeting and unfortunately reoccurring.

I think about it almost everyday. Even happy days. Late at night when the house sleeps, I think of how and when and where but I can’t. I love my folks more than myself and couldn’t hurt them so much.

My brain and body have been trying to kill me for years but I fight and now I help others fight. I feel like a hypocrite and a fraud. I talk people off the ledge and yet look over the edge with longing eyes.

How can I help people if I can’t help myself? I know the tricks and the right things to say but who am I to tell someone not to “opt out” if they want that more than anything?

Those few moments of pure happiness or hysterical laughter and the thought of them happening again keep me strong.

When I’m in the darkness I run those words through my head “It can’t rain all the time” to remind myself “this too shall pass” and all the other cliches.

They are right, as dark as it gets there are happy moments in life that we have to hang on to and enjoy when they come, before the darkness comes back.

Questions for bullies

Questions for Bullies

1. How do you feel when you are picking on people?
2. Why do you bully others?
3. Have you ever been bullied?
4. How does it feel to be bullied/ how do you think it might feel to be bullied?
5. How do your friends react to your bullying?
6. Would it make a difference if your friends thought it was wrong?
7. How do you think ‘x’ feels when you bully them?
8. How would you feel if ‘x’ ended their life because you bullied them?
9. Would you be able to call yourself a good person if someone killed themselves because of you?
10. Do you think you would make a good role model to your future kids?
11. Are there any good excuses for bullying?

Bullying is never ok. Making someone feel like shit just because, is not ok. There is no excuse for being a bully!

I was bullied all through my school years until one bully pushed me so far that I wanted to end my life. Luckily my parents got wind of it and pulled me out of school. The teachers didn’t care, the school counsellor didn’t care, my friends didn’t care, no one
cared. Maybe they cared but they didn’t stop it.
I asked my bully “why?” and she said “Because I can”.
Because I can is not an excuse to torture someone on a daily basis.
Because I can is not an excuse for the years of psychological damage and ptsd I’ve had from the cruelty of one bitchy girl.
Because I can is not an excuse for making me feel so ugly, dumb, worthless and pathetic (her daily words; the words that still replay in my head 20 years later)
My bully almost won. I cut myself to ease the pain of her words. Her bullying almost killed me.

How many lives have been lost because of a bully? If the answer is more than 1, it is already too many.

We need to talk to the victims. But we need to talk more to the bullies and stop them before they cause permanent damage.

Name and Shame your bullies. Technology has changed since I was a teen so record the torment on your phone and post it online.
Tell a teacher, a counsellor, a parent, a friend.

No one deserves to be bullied!
No one should be made to feel suicidal because of a bully.

Worrier or Warrior?

Worrier or Warrior?

I’m 34 and still worry too much about what people will think. I worry that I can’t please everyone, I worry that I’ll never have a real connection with anyone, I worry that I’m not good enough, I worry I am a failure, I worry that people will see through my fake smile and laughter, I worry noone could ever love someone so broken.

But I have had battles with depression, BiPolar, bullies, chronic pain, evil physical health problems and I have fought. I fight everyday to keep going even when I don’t want to, even when I see no point and even when the pain is so bad that I want to roll over and die.
I fight. I am resilient. I am a warrior.

Most of my battles are with myself. So am I a worrier or a warrior?

I think both. What about you?