Mini breaks & Mini Breakdowns

Hello blogland. What’s happening out there?

I am lying in a bed in the spare room of my sisters house with a cracker of a headache and an overall feeling of quizzical numbness that’s wrapped in something I might label as apprehensive excitement. I should probably just switch off my screen and attempt some sleep for the sake of my head and yet here I am. I feel like I want to write but I don’t know what to say so have some dot points and I’ll elaborate later if I remember:

a.) After sorting clutter all week I finally got to head north & visit our sister’s house for the weekend. It’s really great to be here.

b.) Helping a person on the hoarding spectrum move house is extremely frustrating.

c.) Have spent a lot of time sorting old photos. Memories are weird things.

c.) Someone in my head is excruciatingly depressed and someone else is angry (and not about point b) but I don’t have the energy to care or try and figure out why or how to comfort either of them. Many suicidal writings and woeful poetry, I wish they’d just shut up, too tired for that shit, and apparently, compassion.

d.) My nibbling told me they have just been diagnosed with… drum roll please… DID. Yeah, so I accidentally came out at that point and they’re over the moon that they have someone who ‘gets’ them. I’m feeling a tad exposed but maybe we can be helpful to them?

e.) I want a tattoo but all the places are shut.

It’s been a busy week. I’m thinking of taking up drinking.

Here’s a edited photo of us with a bunny aged 7ish

Dear Lavender

Dear Lavender,

I don’t remember our last conversation.

When I left the office I was in the throws of mania, I’d lost all sense of self and reality and life had turned into a blurry upside down mess. When I think of you, I think of a small woman yet an absolute force of nature. I remember you having a heart of gold, an intense mumma bear love for your children and an admirable willingness to stand up and fight for what you believed in, no matter what.

It’s been around eight years since we last spoke but you’ve been on my mind a lot lately. Getting that message from you the other day meant so much, I needed that and you knew it. Thank you.

You mentioned you had thought I was diplomatic and a peacemaker, I didn’t know you had recognised that quality in me, that job took so much from me and I feel I should have been more supportive of you and others and less in my head so that it was nice to hear that sentiment.

You also mentioned me being on the receiving end of your iconic sharp tongue a few times. I know that is true, but I want you to know I didn’t take it personally, all my insecurities weren’t surrounding your comments. I guess I could feel you had demons too and that was oddly comforting in a time when I was finally being forced to begin confronting my own.

We had so much in common, yet we never really had the opportunity at the time to find those things out about each other. We probably could have been good friends, maybe if I had just been more authentic and talked a little less and you had been more receptive and talked a little more.

Despite the fact we didn’t get to know each other on a deeper level, you were the most impactful person I met at that work place. If I’m brutally honest, your choices after I left impacted me so intensely that we would not have attempted to take our life in the manner we did had you not made them and yet ironically, had you not made them, I probably wouldn’t still be here to write this now.

It’s one of those bizarre butterfly effect scenarios where it seems only one of us was destined to survive that year, and in the end it was you who drew the short straw.

I didn’t realise just how alike we were until you died. A parallel version of myself was reflected by every speaker at your service. In some ways it’s as though your death both gave me permission to die and subsequently allowed me to live. It was left up to the hands of the universe and I walked away as the earth reclaimed you.

When I got cancer anyway, I couldn’t help but wonder if things didn’t happen the wrong way around. Our positions could have so easily been reversed, perhaps the universe made an error and now eight kids would lose their mothers instead of four.

Thank you for being you, sharp tongue and all. I guess I’ll see you again quite soon after all. Perhaps then we can catch up over a cuppa and finally see what friends we might have been.

Love always,

Kate

True Colours

Do you know yourself?

Do you trust your memories, your feelings, thoughts and opinions to tell you who you really are?

Let’s do a little exercise. If you are a regular reader here I want you to pretend for a minute that you don’t know me at all.

I can describe myself by physical appearance such as body size, hair colour, clothes I’m wearing today – this gives people an image and a stereotype they personally associate with that image.

So I’m wearing black jeans and a white T-shirt with a black hoodie. My hair is dark blonde with highlights and I’m a little chubby.

Then I can go a little bit deeper, I can describe what I do and what surrounds me. I can inform you that I’m a wife, a mother, an Australian, I live on a farm and I drive an SUV. This can be enough for most people to conjure up an opinion about my personality based on their experiences and stereotypes.

Then I can talk about current life experiences, like I can explain that I have four children, and have recently had chemo therapy for cancer – this might change the mental image a bit, perhaps you will see me as being a little older or having a little less hair.

Now I’m able to tell you all of these facts about myself without once telling you how I feel about anything or what my personality is like.

I could mention a few other things, perceived ‘bad’ qualities: I’m forgetful, easily distracted, don’t call people back as quickly as I should and my house is a bit messy.

Would you make excuses for me so that I continued to fit inside your mental image of ‘me’? Like ‘she probably has chemo brain’ or ‘lots of kids keep you busy’.

What if I were to say I suffer from mental illness?

Would that change the mental image you have formed based on the facts I gave you?

What if I told you I had depression? Would the mental image of my house suddenly seem messier?

What if I told you I had bipolar disorder? Would you start to question my parenting skills?

What if I told you I got episodes of psychosis? Are you questioning if everything I’ve told you up to this point accurate?

What if I told you I have dissociative identity disorder? Are you questioning whether I might have an evil alter capable of doing something terrible?

How is your mental image of ‘me’ changing?

Humans are very quick to judge. In an age of social media, we hear some selective facts about total strangers and based on those alone, we decide who they are as people. If someone is smiling in pictures they must be happy. If they talk publicly about things that upset them they are ‘attention seeking’, if they are openly angry as a white woman they are a ‘Karen’.

If someone is accused of a crime or a morally questionable act, complete strangers will have an opinion, often a strong one, about how ‘bad’ they were and how they should be punished or excluded from society despite solely based on these publicised facts and not knowing anything about their thoughts, feelings or intentions.

If a Facebook page is shown on the news of an accused person and contains selfies then people will start throwing around the term narcissist. If a neighbour is interviewed who always thought this person was lovely and kind then they will talk about how they have now shown their ‘true colours’.

Everyone runs straight to the torches and pitchforks and I wonder if this is an effort to find something, anything, to seperate themselves from this person, seperate their friend from this person and to feel like they are safe in their environment.

What exactly are someone’s true colours?

Two people are in what appears to be a devoted and loving romantic relationship for 30 years, then one day one partner gets drunk and cheats with a stranger they met at a work conference. Was the entire relationship a lie? Was the cheating partner now after all this time showing their ‘true colours’?

Say a person volunteered in a soup kitchen every week for 25 years, attended church regularly, mowed their elderly neighbours lawn and were always kind to people, then one day they killed their wife. Are they a cold blooded murderer showing their ‘true colours’?

The truth is, people can both love someone and have a wonderful relationship then one day cheat. Humans can be kind charitable people and then one day commit a terrible crime. Life is not black and white, it’s full of nuance and those of us looking in on a situation from a distance, particularly one where selective facts are plastered across the media, have absolutely no idea of who those people actually are, but if we can seperate them from ourselves we feel safer.

The belief that a person was actually bad the whole time and only pretending to be good helps us believe we are good and therefore safe and incapable of wrongdoing. To believe that good people can do bad things is scary. It means people we love or even we could potentially do bad things and that’s too hard to think about.

Having Dissociative Identity Disorder effects my memory and my ability to have a cohesive narrative to my life. Other aspects of my personality have different opinions, reactions and beliefs than I do and yet we all co habitate a body. You can see why Hollywood jumped straight on the ‘what if one of the alters was a murderer!’ bandwagon. A terrifying prospect and a brilliant horror movie trope.

While having a murderous alter you know nothing about is about as likely as being struck by lightening the same day you get bitten by a shark, there is a very genuine and based in reality issue of not really knowing who you are. When you think you are a certain way but people comment that you are another, and another again – it’s extremely confusing.

When you have this disorder but can’t communicate with your alters very well it seems almost easier to rely on the judgments of others and question your own thoughts and perceptions. I thought I didn’t like sausages but you’re telling me I said I loved them at a bbq the other day so maybe I do and I forgot? I thought I was a kind person but you’re telling me I am mean? Slowly you trust other people’s perceptions of the collective ‘you’ more than your own fragmented one.

I’ve been called the following:

A monster, kind, cold and calculated, warm and loving, honest, a liar, a fraud, a thief, an ally, an enemy, a peacemaker, a shit stirrer, interesting, boring, intelligent, stupid, strong, weak, an attention seeker, stoic, introverted, extroverted, narcissistic, thoughtful, borderline, unemotional, psychopathic, empathetic, manic, depressed, delusional, sane, spiritual, atheist, demanding, easygoing, selfish, charitable, manipulative, altruistic, a coward and brave.

That’s a lot of contradictions.

If I were to be arrested for murder, there would be people who would be shocked, and people who would nod their heads and say ‘that doesn’t surprise me at all’. Those who were shocked would no doubt speak of me “showing my true colours” and those that found out about the DID would probably assume Hollywood was right.

So if I’ve been described in all those ways, what are my true colours?

Perhaps ‘we’ are all of these things, or have been at one time or another. “I” am nothing more than a part, a piece, a distinctly un-whole fragment of some greater “me” I can’t properly conceive of and yet perhaps I, like you, are neither good nor bad, but simply human.

Carry On

The mood can seem to shift so fast, 
We’ve been fighting a harsh and unwinnable past. Now time is running out and grief clouds our overcast mind.

But the storm in our head’s nearly over,
I’m ready to let go of my rein.
Carry on fighting my darling,
now it’s time for you to forge your own way.
Embrace this new world my darling,
Build hope from all the ashes and stains.
Carry on my darling,
now it’s your turn to dance in the rain.

I’ve had my share of moments,
so many highs and so many lows.
I’ve had my glory, my fame, my comeuppance
I’ve paid the price, but I’d pay it again.

Once I died a perfect death in silence,
I thought I had let go of all of my pain.
But they woke me from my slumber,
into a life I could never reclaim.

And now I’m tired of walking in limbo,
I’m tired of just being a ghost.
I’m tired of trying to live up to a memory,
a broken, misunderstood host.

Now nobody’s trying to find me,
Because nobody knows I’ve been gone.
And nobody is walking beside me,
Because nobody knows I’m not strong.
I once hurt the people that loved me,
But now I’ve righted all of my wrongs.
I’ve healed the hearts of some strangers,
And I’ve written enough poems and songs.

So I’m ready to say my goodbyes now,
And I’m ready to let you move on.
But this time I’ll pass in a whisper,
so no one need know that I’m gone.
This time I’ll fade into black,
no sirens, no tears and no songs.
This time I’ll fade into black,
and trust you to carry us on.

So carry on my darling,
Fight for your heart and fight for your name.

Carry on my darling,
Fight for your freedoms and fight through your shame.

Carry on my darling,
let your shadow out to play.

Carry on my darling,
now it’s your turn to dance in the rain.

A Thousand Candles

Image from WordPress

I awake from winters clutches,
into the clarity of spring.
A thousand candles burn their silent song
to a thousand flights on untrained wings.

In shallow breath and slow beat of heart,
weary of world, and withering toll.
Go gently, go forth,
Into the warmth of the night,
release my fractured soul.

By hands of gentle strangers,
we shall pass through those gates of pearl.
Behind us now the dangers,
of a soon forgotten world.

Let the light that shines above you,
guide the light that shines within.
Look not back, we’ll hold your pain,
for Winter won’t come again.

Deaths Landing

It’s a beautiful spring day and an unassuming 10m x 5m concrete pad sits quietly in an open space surrounded by green grass. This innocent slab of concrete has seen more than its share of carnage, loss, desperation and fear in its time, but it has also held in its grey speckled surface the power of hope.

I guess I knew it was here somewhere, but I hadn’t actually seen it before today. 100 meters to the right is the hospital and the mental health unit where I nearly lost my life in 2015.

As I sit here in the car park waiting for Red, I look over from the helicopter pad to the red brick building where we took our final breath and I recall a freezing winter night standing outside after someone had pulled the fire alarm and we all watched, huddled in blue blankets as a helicopter flew down over the bricked courtyard of the high dependency unit to land. It was so close you could almost touch it and we had joked about jumping up to grab its skids and escape our confinement.

At that time Deaths Landing had in fact held me before, for a few minutes as I was taken away by air to another hospital in a big city far more equipped to manage my condition.

I don’t remember that flight; I wasn’t conscious, none of us were. When people told me later what had happened, I didn’t believe them for months.

It’s odd sitting here, looking over at the place where part of me left us forever. For years after I couldn’t even drive near this street without having an anxiety attack, now it’s oddly numb.

I’m slowly healing from this grief, tending to the shame and trying to process the pain. I feel the same sitting here now as I do driving along the road where a friend died, loss and a need for unanswerable answers.

I wonder who was there, what they said, how they felt. I wonder about the last song they heard, last word they spoke and what happened around them as the world kept turning when for them it had simply stopped.

A little piece of my heart throbs in the recognition that we will never be the same again.

This week, the universe has forced me down the road to some sort of closure I’m only now realising how desperately I need. I have been half expecting for this awakening for years, but now that it’s finally here, I am nervous.

Signs and Sadness

I know this sounds nuts, but it’s actually not the point of this post, purely an explanation for what followed, which seemed far more representative of a sign from the universe… Where was I? Ok, so if you’ve been a reader for a while, you’ll be aware that I am technically a ‘voice hearer’. Let it be known that I don’t like that term but haven’t got the wherewithal to come up with a better alternative right now. Sorry, it’s 1am, and I’m emerging from a rabbit hole.

Anyway. The “voices” vary in… style? That’s definitely not the right word. Some are absolutely alters, that’s fine, I’ve almost accepted that. Others though, well… let’s just say I’ve been pestered by what I can only describe as entities from a spirit realm. This is a whole thing, largely because it conflicts with my world view, but that’s not the point of this post, so for context I had an ‘entity’ scenario – it was in the form of a name, which was in relation to a situational link to another name which upon investigation turned out to be an unsolved murder case. Not liking the potential implications of this, I ignored this second name, apologised to the first name and then eventually relented and looked up name #2.

A specific Name #2 search directed to a magistrate’s court document page. I scrolled down a few names and rather than Name #2, I instead saw an inquest relating to a familiar name in my personal life. This person was someone I had worked with who died by suicide many years ago. I actually wrote about their funeral here.

So I read it, didn’t I. Over a hundred pages of the inquest into her death. Couldn’t help myself. You see, this death, well it was two months before our last attempt and as much as I loathe the connection people make between suicides and other suicides… This situation had absolutely impacted our own. I’m avoiding details so this might make no sense to you, but our attempt from then has been fucking with my head a lot lately, in many ways and for many reasons and I just need to write something out. So coming across this particular piece of information so bizarrely and right now, well. It’s weirdly cathartic and simultaneously mind fucky.

I now know exactly how this person, the woman I knew, died. I know where & how she was found, who’s been blamed, what measures have been undertaken to prevent similar circumstances. Reading it was an ordeal. A grief for her, a grief for us, anger at the mental health system’s inadequacies, a sense of injustice for her, a lot more questions about our own experience. Frustration, sadness. But I’m glad I read it. Like a sort of partial closure I didn’t know I needed.

Just as I wrote that I heard that entity again, the one that gave me the name (it’s not my deceased friend) – She said that’s what she wants, a sense of closure. It was pleading, hopeful – now the room is suddenly chilly and I feel so incredibly guilty that I can hear her asking me for help and while I’m hardly capable, I can’t even bring myself to even try. The name she gave me, maybe I can look into it a little further, see if any other paths cross. I couldn’t find him in those court documents Google claimed he was in. Maybe Stalkbook will have more answers. Then at least she’ll know I tried. I don’t even believe in this stuff. It scares me. Fuck. 😔

Untold

The world inside my mind is on fire. They’re running, screaming, begging and I’m lying down with my popcorn ready to watch it all burn.

The truth hurts. If they really wanted me to speak then they should have realised they’d have to suffer the consequences. My words don’t fit into their nice little narrative, there’s no hero in our story, only demons, lies and secrets that won’t go untold.

You can’t close Pandora’s box my friends, the damage is already done. Maybe they shouldn’t have ever picked up that pen, a lunatic is more acceptable than a biographer that speaks in cold blood.

Zeitgeist

Time falls around me like broken glass, glinting in the sun. Memories reflect off the shards, twisting, turning.

I remember you in a warm glow. A laugh, a smile, a red ribbon in your curly blonde hair, you were flying on our hill.

Then you were gone again.

She met you for the first time in 1999, on that hill, 14 years before you were finally born. She had waited for you to arrive. Four times she waited, but each face that came belonged to another.

Fate eventually brought you though, in its perfect way. She met you, before she died. She held your tiny hand and knew you were safe, knew you would take on anything the world would throw out, she was so proud.

My little ghost, I ache when I see your face as you look just like her. I see her eyes in yours and I grieve a loss I can’t describe. One day we’ll meet her again, atop our sacred hill and we’ll fly together into the wind, red ribbons in our hair.

Time falls around me like broken glass, glinting in the sun. Memories reflect off the shards, twisting, turning, disappearing beneath me as though they were never there.

Finding Memories

I remembered just now the birth of my second son. Not entirely, but a little, mostly watching from across the room. Reading the story of a fellow blogger just now jogged this back into existence and I have tears streaming down my cheeks from the overwhelming joy it’s brought me.

You see, Ive finally remembered it for the first time as images and feelings all tied together, not just a second hand story from The Husband and it is incredible. I remember actually being there, 18years old, in labour, standing in the warmth of the birthing suite shower and wanting to stay in there forever, I remember what must have been a little later lying on the bed in the hospital room and he was born. I remember looking at him for the first time, tiny, squirming and knowing he was different somehow and feeling terrified of what that might mean but the nurses said nothing so nor did I.

Then the next day or perhaps it was the one after, looking into that little Perspex hospital crib next to my bed and feeling so much intense love for this tiny child with the elfin features wrapped up tightly in a blue rug sound asleep and I felt a surge of love so intense I could barely breathe and the will of a lioness ready to protect her young at whatever cost.

Tears sting at this memory, for that child has now grown, he overcame a multitude of difficulties and is an amazing human being, I’m so proud of him. That time went by so fast that I blinked and missed it. I know some of the history, but it isn’t mine to properly feel or reflect upon, I’m not yet privy to its heartache or wonder.

I had to write this out just now because it may be lost again tomorrow and I want so badly to hold onto it, hold onto that powerful love a parent should feel for their child.

I hate what this disorder has stolen from me, but at least I know it’s still inside us somewhere, locked away by someone and they’re sharing more and more of the keys.
It’s too much for now, my head throbs and my eyes sting, I want to push it further but I need to be patient, I need to let go and trust in the process.

For now, I have this gift, and I am so very grateful.