Mind Holiday

For most of my life, I have sat down and read a chapter or two of a book every day. Now I can’t remember the last time I picked up a book that wasn’t for the kids. Life got so full of responsibility and obligation that reading for pleasure suddenly seemed like an unproductive use of my time.

Sometimes, I’d walk past my bookshelf and my fingers would wander over the spines of my favourite worlds. I’d be hit with a pang of twofold guilt; the guilt of neglecting Fitz-Chivalry and his Fool, and the guilt of more important responsibilities that loomed over me while I selfishly contemplated reading.  When did I stop allowing myself to have free time? When did I let mother’s guilt become so all encompassing? I often find myself saying, “I need a holiday from my mind.” But that’s exactly what reading is. It’s brilliant.

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A few of my favourite things.

I had a moment in my kitchen today, when I looked around and didn’t know what I was there for.  The laundry was done. Dishes? Done. Beds were made, rooms were tidy, so what was I meant to be doing? A little voice inside me squeaked, “Read a book!” I heard it, it was quiet, but I heard it. I drowned it out with a louder voice that boomed, “DO SOME BAKING! START DINNER NOW! COOK EXTRA FOR THE FREEZER!” So now we have chocolate slice, cinnamon buns and three days worth of dinners. Which is great, but I could have made myself a cup and tea, put my feet up and read a book. How delicious does that sound?!

I’ve decided I’m going to make time to read. I even went to the library and chose three books. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised I’d fucked up. All three books were chosen because they relate to something I want to achieve. I was suppose to get lost in a world of fiction, instead I came away with “Rewire Your Overanxious Brain”, “The Power of Negative Emotion” and “The $50 Weekly Shop”.  Not exactly light reading, but it’s a start.

Goodbye Krankenstein

One Wednesday we said goodbye to our oldest kitty Krankenstein (Krank for short because that name to too freaking long to call out over the neighbourhood). Krank was only 10 years old, but had a number of health problems and she was at the point where her zest for life was gone so we had to make the decision.

She came from an abandoned litter of kittens and when we got her, she was still to young to be away from her mother and siblings, and so she spent the first few weeks missing out on those vital kitten lessons. I’m certain this was the reason for her strangeness and psychotic behaviour.

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For reasons known only to her, she had to sniff and lick the feet of everyone who came to visit. Thankfully this lessened as she aged. For her first few years, she would attempt to suckle on our blankets. Ex husband wasn’t safe at night because he often slept with his hands behind his head, and she became fixated on tearing out his pit-hairs with her teeth.

She was obsessed with our older cat Zakk, and harassed him constantly, which I think he loved because he would often nap with his tail swishing about while she stalked and wrestled it. Right from the start she felt compelled to clean him, to the point where he stopped grooming himself altogether. As she got older she would pin him down to clean his ears whether he liked it or not, sometimes while he was mid-meal.

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When Zakk died 3 years ago, she became a little lost, with no one to tend to. She once attempted to clean our younger cat, Lita. That didn’t go so well, as Lita had been conditioned through years of unpredictable behaviour to be terrified of Krank. During the ‘Torture Years’ Krank would attack Lita at random and without warning, other times Krank would approach Lita (who would be cowering, too afraid to move) and sit down as close as possible to her and start grooming herself. I’m convinced it was an intentional mind-fuck. But her attempt at badassery was a farce. She was a nervous wreck, she’d startle at the slightest whisper and once when she emptied her bladder all over my floor and I thought she was dying – she actually just had bad anxiety.

It took 7 years for her to decide to acknowledge our children after our eldest was born. She was bitter about their existence until she was so desperate for someone to scratch her head that she lay down on my frightened daughters legs and refused to move.

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Both of them were extremely uncomfortable about the situation, but both were too stubborn to do anything about it.

In short, she was a bossy, unstable, neurotic bitch with a demand and arrogant meow. And I loved her. Thank you to all of my customers who helped me to pay her various vet bills during my various KRANK sales.

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Krank’s final day.

2016… I Guess It Was OK.

Ahhh, Christmas, it’s so good that it’s finally fucked off for another year. This summer I’ve been blessed with solitude. Three weeks with an empty house. Tasty-but-intense Flatmate, has moved on and taken Jealous McCuntbeak with him, and the kids have been staying with the Ex. And I’ve been… I don’t really know what I’ve been. Not lonely, just… in a state of limbo. It’s like being suddenly pulled from a busy, noisy train station and sucked into a noiseless vacuum. I miss Jealous McCuntbeak. Not her incessant squawking, but I miss her affectionate play-fighting, and the way she went ape-shit if you gave her a ball or a box to play with.

My immune system has taken a dive again, so I’ve been bombarded with colds and viruses, and a nasty kidney infection. Instead of enjoying my me-time I’ve been run down and my sleep schedule is all over the place. I miss the kids, but I know that their return is going to hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m looking forward to it anyway.

Last year was, frankly, horrific for so many people. For me it was a deep personal struggle, but for others it was more than that. Families torn apart, loved ones lost, and lets not forget Bowie.

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But then, tragedy strikes every year, and there is no such thing as a “bad” year, it’s just a matter of perspective. While 2016 was difficult, there are many things that I’m grateful for.

♥ From hardship comes personal development. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’ve grown.

♥Help from my community. Huge thanks to Rocky Steer, Gail Golding and Nicky Hughes (and co.) from the Kai Kitchen/Donation Station for saving my arse when I was falling apart. These incredible women and their friends provided me and my family with ready cooked meals, and home baking when I lost the ability to function. The food was a huge help, but what really got me through was the unreserved kindness and caring. I’ve never felt so loved, you kick-started my recovery. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

♥My daughter was awarded an exemption from school so that I can home-school her. It’s not easy, but it’s the best option for her and to see the change it’s made in her makes it all worth it.

♥My parents helped me financially more than they should have, as well as helping out around the property.

♥Love from unexpected places. Someone I would never have expected showed up on my doorstep and gave me a firm “you’re not okay and you need to get your shit together”.  She believed in me enough to give me the strength do make the changes I needed to make to get well. Sometimes we need someone with brass balls to call us on our bullshit.

♥Everyone who bought a tutorial or a piece of jewellery. Thank you all. It’s you who make ends meet.

As Desperate As An Ice-Cube In Hell

I thought about turning on the TV tonight, but I can’t get my head around watching it alone. Since my separation, I’ve hardly really watched TV at all. Which is weird, because it’s not like me and Ex really watched anything together toward the end anyway, mostly because we couldn’t be in the same room as each other. I vaguely recall spending most evenings either beading with my headphones on or laying in the bath for hours with a bottle or two of wine, while he either slept on the couch in front of the TV or skulked off into his shed to pretend he was busy.

Before it got like that, back when we did watch shows together, it was always what he wanted to watch. Typical male king-of-the-remote-control stuff. He would fall asleep and I would gently pry the remote out from between him and the cushion. I would slowly turn the volume down before changing the channel, hoping that the sudden shift from one show to another wouldn’t startle him awake. There’s an art to it, but I never mastered the skill. I invariably failed and would receive a glare and a, “I was watching that.” He would reclaim his precious prize, switch the channel back and nod off again.

Now days, if I’m faced with the challenge of deciding what to watch, I’m like a crippled little lamb. So mostly, I don’t watch anything except for The Walking Dead. If I’m with someone, I can watch, but I can’t make the choice. Even if there’s something that I want to watch, I’ll concede to someone else’s preference. It’s part lack of confidence in speaking up, and part being so desperate for company that I don’t want to risk them deciding not to join me on the couch.

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You see, I’m stunningly needy. I’ve only just come to realise this. I’m fairly certain that everyone who has ever dealt with me has been long aware it, while I’ve been existing as a shapeless mass of oblivious desperation. I’m horribly lonely, even when I’m not alone. I require constant reassurance that I’m a good person, a good mother, that I exist, that I’m not losing my mind, not a burden, not a hellish mash-up between The Blob and Freddy Kruger.

When someone doesn’t want to spend time with me, I “know” that it’s because of who I am as a person, or how I look. If someone rejects me, I feel like hideous monster who should be shunned from society. Conversely, if someone chooses to spent time with me, I feel like maybe I matter. If I’m lucky enough to spend the night with someone or be shown affection of any sort, I start to think maybe I’m not so bad. So I crave touch; a hug, a hand resting on mine, any kind of gesture. It’s not romance or love that I want, it’s just the feeling of being worth…. something. Hell, some days, I would be happy to be punched me in the face just for the sake of human contact, some kind of acknowledgement that I’m here and I matter. And that’s not a healthy way to be.

I’m learning a lot about myself as I work through this process, and most of it isn’t great and it hurts like Hell. But all the same, I’m glad that I’m figuring myself out, so that I can work on fixing it. Three steps forward and two steps back is still progress. Eventually, I’ll have found all the little pieces of me, I’ll cut back the rot and I’ll be content to be me. I’m not going to get any younger or prettier, so best I start learning to accept myself now before I’m a lonely old hag preying on handsome young Jehovah’s Witnesses who knock on my door, insisting that they have one more cup of tea.

Catharsis

My head isn’t in the best of places today, but it’s probably just necessary to work out the kinks (although, some kinks I’m happy to keep ). It’s 1.30pm, and I’ve only just gotten out of bed, but today isn’t for pressure, today is for catharsis and for planning. My house is a mess, but fuck it. I don’t need to impress anyone today.

Today my plans include, sitting and crying; laying on the couch playing games on my phone; writing a list of small goals and a plan on how to achieve them; drinking lots of water; cat and rat cuddles (not at the same time); mindless drawing; walk on the beach.

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I need to stop trying to be what other people want me to be. I was me for a little while there, and I’m going to get that back. I need to stop feeling guilty for not being good enough, strong enough, generous enough, pretty enough. Changes are coming.

Good Times.

My last 7 days have been like this:

Thursday: Anxiety says,”Who needs cuticles? Let’s gnaw those fuckers off!”
Friday: You know what goes well together? Depression AND anxiety!
Saturday: Let mix things up a bit. How about we completely lose our shit, and throw in some massive panic attacks with hyperventilating?
Sunday: Panic attack hangover, ugh. Still got housework done, yay me!
Monday: Profoundly miserable.
Tuesday: Pretty damn good actually.
Wednesday:  Lots of aimless wandering. Why am I holding this box of cereal? No, this doesn’t belong in the bathroom.

Yesterday I went to my doctor. I’d been putting it off for a while because I didn’t want to accept that I couldn’t get my mental health under control by myself. However, it’s become increasingly obvious that I can’t so I had to do something. The end result is I have changed my medication from Zoloft to Escitalopram. Changing meds is very rarely a fun experience and my memories of starting Citalopram (slightly different version of the same drug) years ago are unpleasant. Two weeks of feeling like I was on an icky, muddy high. But once the side effects wore off, I found them quite effective, so fingers crossed.

I took my first one before bed because they’re suppose to make you drowsy and the doctor says they should improve my insomnia. But, first I have to deal with the unpleasantness. So I’m here again in the wee hours, I’ve had two hours sleep. I’m crazy tired but can’t drift off, and I have a hazy disconnection to reality like I’m viewing life though a camera’s lens. So my apologies if this post reads like jumbled up nonsense. Starting to feel kinda nauseous from the spinning sensation, so I’m going to lie down for a bit and hopefully get some sleep.

 

The Ocean Is Pretty, But It Will Fuck You Up.

I’m a crier. I cry a lot. It’s not that I cry at the slightest hint of emotion, I don’t cry unless I’m genuinely, deeply upset. But there’s the problem: I feel too much.  It’s like I’m standing on a shore and my emotions are waves rushing towards me and over me. The bigger the waves are, the harder it is to stay standing. Sometimes it’s a torrent and I’m pulled under, I can’t breathe, I can’t speak. I don’t have the words at that time to communicate or ask for help. I try, but the words don’t come. I want to show someone how I feel, I want to transfer a snippet of my experience to another person’s mind just for a moment, because then someone would understand what it is really like. For them to experience that helplessness, the feeling of being trapped, that suffocating pressure on their chest.

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And here we have a representation of the inner turmoil I feel while waiting to find out who Negan beats to death with Lucille on The Walking Dead. It’s gotta be Glenn, right?             Photo credit: Luis Ascenso

To say that I’m ‘over-emotional’ or ‘too sensitive’, is misleading, as it is often said as a synonym for ‘weak’.  Such expressions are often hurled, when what is really meant is “Your emotional response makes me uncomfortable and I don’t know how to react, so you must be faulty,”.

I am not weak, if I was weak I would have broken long ago. I’d be a drooling mess in a funny farm or worse. But I’m not, I’m still here. I’m fractured, but I’m still holding all the pieces in place. I am what Psychotherapist Joy Malik, calls a Deep Feeler. I am easily overwhelmed by my own feelings and the feelings of others.  My feelings are real and valid, they are not something that is enhanced intentionally. It is as much physiological as it is mental. Malik said, “For those with high sensitivity, strong emotional responses are natural and need to be processed in order to metabolize them.” And so I cry, and I write.

I write my most honest thoughts privately, and share publicly some of my struggles. I do this in writing because talking about them out loud is difficult. Being upfront about your emotional and mental health is not easy. It’s mistaken as self-pity. Some think I’m an over-sharer and should keep things to myself; have some class and dignity.  But the fact is, it’s taken me years to get to the point where I can be open about it, where I can say .”I’m not okay today” . I’m not ashamed of it anymore, nor should I be. I want to show my children that it’s safe to speak up when they’re not OK. The world is changing and the stigma is gradually lifting, but there’s still a fog of taboo that needs to be burned off. It’s time to clear the air.