The Blank Page

As a wannabe writer, I live with the age old fear of being struck down with ‘writer’s block’. The rumour is that it’s always there, lurking in the background, threatening to steal our calling, our passion at a moments notice. I usually find it hard to imagine staring at that ominous blank page and having nothing to add, no story to tell. I feel like I will always have some sort of story to tell, even if I am too deeply depressed to articulate it into a collection of coherent sentences.

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Perhaps I don’t have a right to fear writers block because unlike many writers out there, I don’t usually write for money. I am not financially or contractually tied to anyone elses timelines or expectations so if I don’t feel like writing for a few weeks, no pressure, I simply don’t write until I am once again overcome with the urge to put pen to paper, or more correctly fingers to the keyboard, and suddenly the words are just flowing uncontrollably out of my soul like projectile vomit. I call it a “Soul purge”.

I watched a movie tonight with Mum, it’s called “The Wife”. Not everyone would feel it the same level I felt it, honestly my Hubby would have probably fallen asleep, but its a film I think most writers would relate to somewhat – particularly older female writers. There are many quiet yet important points made within this movie and while many are subtle background noise rather than the main story line, they still pack quite a punch.

The final scene made me suddenly think about what the metaphor of a blank page can mean to a writer. The more I thought about it the more I realise that it means so much more, SO MUCH MORE than I had ever considered before.

We can tell an awful lot about ourselves by staring at a sheet of white paper.

What do you see when you stare at a blank page? Do you see a deadline for a job or a potential New York Times best seller? Do you see the space where you are about to reveal your innermost deepest secrets and darkest desires for the very first time? Do you see a means to an end or a stepping stone?

How does that blank page make you feel? Are you excited? Nervous? Does your heart begin to race with anxiety as the emptiness of the white paper seems to move in and out of your visual field? Do your fingers start to sweat as your mind fills with self-doubt all the while the curser just blinks at you unforgivingly, as if to remind you of an impossible starting point?

A blank page can be a clean slate, a fresh start, a new beginning, or some other cliché metaphor for an optimistic outlook or it can strike absolute terror into the hearts of writers who feel like it will never be filled.

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But as was mentioned in the movie, writers always have something to say. We need to write as much as we need to breath, it’s like giving birth to a baby, if you don’t choose to push or nobody tells you to push eventually your body just starts doing it for you all by itself. When that urge overtakes you caveman style you have all the building blocks you need, but it’s up to you to make that push count so you choose to push even harder until eventually you bring your child, blog post or short story into the world.

If you are stuck for ideas then follow that old Golden Rule: Write what you know.

They only say it so often because its true! While it can be fun and challanging to write what you don’t know too (and if you feel like researching the habits of 13th century alligator hunters then go for it) but when you are staring at that blinking curser wondering if you will ever leave your computer again, adding your own experiences into your blog post or fiction writing will make things a damn sight easier. When you know what experiences have felt like first hand, you can give those experiences authentically to your fictional characters or share them directly with blog followers who may be able to strongly relate.

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Rather than writing 100 blog posts about not knowing what to write about, if you are overwhelmed with fear about the blank page then write about whats at the bottom of the fear not the blankness of the page. How? Analyse yourself. What else scares you and why? (Something does, everyone is afraid of something!) Write about the fear of being afraid, why is it scary to feel fear? Does being afraid make you feel weak or unlovable? Who’s expectations aren’t you living up to? What about the fear of someone else knowing you’re afraid? Does that change their opinion of you? Is that even their genuine opinion or is that possibly your own secret or hidden opinion being reflected back upon yourself? Go deep.

Write about your most fearful painful truth, write about what that felt like in your body, did it make you tremble? Were you drenched in rivers of perspiration? Write about how it affected your outlook on the world, why it has changed you – and it HAS changed you, for better or worse and deep down you know that because you are thinking about it right now! You don’t have to show anyone that deep personal writing, you can absolutely burn it ceremoniously later on, but the realisations you will come to by laying it all out there on that blank page, will open up your mind and your heart to possibilities you never imagined and that can also really help you develop fictional characters for your next best seller or simply give your racing mind a moment of clarity and peace in which to rest and come up with an idea.

When you are stuck developing a characters personality you can try giving them traits and opinions that are vastly different to your own personal ones. Create characters that challenge your morals and ideals, let them make you angry and build off of it. Take this opportunity to use all that time you spend “what if’ing” about your real world anxieties to the next level and let them begin to form plots in this new world you are building.

Remember: You are God to your characters, you have the power to create them and destroy them. Use it. Hate some of your characters and love some of your characters, let your most spiteful characters win sometimes, it’s okay to sadistically tear apart families and shatter lives in one fucked up but powerful typing frenzy.

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Life is random and so is death and despite what modern day Disney would have you believe, in the real world bad guys sometimes get away with it and good guys die young and alone. Bring that reality into your story like they did in the good old days. Have you ever actually read a Grimms fairy tale?  ‘Once upon a time’ usually devolves into a twisted mind altering middle and a grizzly sadistic end for many characters especially children; only very few live happily ever after.

So when you stare into that empty white box in front of you, imagine the lives of all of those half-formed characters currently stuck inside your swirling head finally having the chance to come to life. Picture them physically running out of your head and onto the page and embrace their imperfections, laugh at how one trips over his feet, one skip’s and dances and another gets lost while distracted by a butterfly.

Give them the opportunity to explore their world, let them climb Willow trees, breath in the scented air of springtime, discover love in a seedy neighbourhood, feel heartbreak and crave revenge. Watch them grow as they lose themselves in their bizarre passions, show them the lessons they have learned through their hardships even when they can’t see them themselves for the pain.

Let your blank page become a platform for your characters to spread vivid wonder and strike incomprehensible fear into the hearts and minds of their and your friends, family and strangers as you all watch them discover exactly what it means to be distinctly and imperfectly human. And then let them, teach you.

Do you ever suffer from writers block?

Ava

I warn you this is a long one, I talked a lot about Ava in my book, she was after all my best friend for a long time. Ava, kind, caring, formidable, smart as a whip with a genius level IQ, she was the only bridesmaid at my wedding and like an aunt to my 4 children. Every time I hear Billy Joel’s “Always A Woman” I think of her and smile.

We both grew up as ‘only’ children but aside from that we had completely different upbringings and yet we were so painfully alike, it was as if we shared the same story, told in a different way. 

We were painfully sensitive and volatile teenagers but where I would fear judgement and only ever allowed myself to implode, Ava couldn’t care less what people thought, happy to explode and let the whole world feel her wrath. She was brilliant at standing up for the underdogs of the world and she was alway right, especially when she was wrong.

Ava had terrible self esteem on the inside but wore the mask of confidence so well that on the surface she often appeared hostile or combative. She fought for herself when she felt wronged and she fought for me when I did, which I either appreciated tremendously or felt horribly uncomfortable about depending on the situation. 

Unless I’m manic, I’m a meek little kitten with a tendency to always back down and hide, as such confrontation terrifies me. Ava didn’t put up with that nonsense, she was always up for an argument. She wanted to be a lawyer and would have made a bloody good one, unfortunately mental illness repeatedly got in the way of her dreams and university just became too much. 

Sadly, Ava and I don’t talk anymore. I don’t mention that part in the book because, well because it still hurts me so deeply to think that we don’t have that relationship anymore, to think about how it ended or more rightly that I ended it. 

And even more painfully, the reasons why. 

There is still so much guilt locked up inside of me relating to that phone call, the last time we spoke all those years ago now. 

 

I don’t actually remember meeting Ava for the first time, she went to my school and we talked a bit sometimes but I remember a conversation we had, it was the moment that changed everything for me.

Despite having friends to hang out with and family that loved me, this was the first time in my life that I finally felt like I wasn’t alone.

We were both in the throes of our own deeply private battles with Anorexia, it was a world before the internet made information readily accessible and while neither of us knew at the time that what we had wasn’t a just a shared passion for extreme dieting and was in fact a mental illness, we bonded over our disdain for calories and bizarrely similar food and exercise rituals that nobody else we knew understood. 

We quickly became rock solid besties. She got me and I got her, on one hand we were terribly bad for one another, because honestly, the last thing a competitive anorexic teenager needs is a dieting partner! But on so many other levels our relationship was therapeutic, we laughed together, cried together and we kept each other breathing when the darkness of depression closed in suffocating us of any hope. 

That’s the thing with childhood mental illness, when you seem to think and feel the world differently from everyone else but you don’t understand what’s going on or why, you tend to learn very quickly to just shut up about things or face being ostracised. Finding someone else who seems to see from your perspective is life changing, and my relationship with Ava was life changing. 

I got away with a lot more than she did, her Mum was more clued on to teenage delinquency and mental health issues than my parents. Also I knew how to manipulate quietly to get what I wanted, I discovered the art of flattery and making adults happy to quickly win them over, where Ava was an open book, if she disagreed with something she yelled and screamed defensively and they didn’t like her. 

I was able to hide much more of my Eating Disorder from doctors and my naive parents, I tricked and lied my way out of hospitalisation at 15 by acting innocent and pretending I had no idea what I was doing was in healthy and lied that I’d comply with a nutritionist. Ava was honest about how she felt and fought back at there suggestions and ended up being tube fed in the adolescent psych ward. 

I felt horrible about it and also terrified it could happen to me so I quit school and started working full time and going out all weekend, every weekend so nobody could keep tabs on my eating and exercising habits anymore. 

Time passed, we both physically recovered and mentally and emotionally declined in other ways. Always though we followed the same patterns pre determined by our personalities, she was honest to doctors about her suicidal ideation and mental health struggles and ended up baring the brunt of more stigma or simply ignored because she was asking for help. 

Doctors seemed to believe that people who asked for help were only attention seeking “otherwise they just do it” is what she was specifically told. So Ava decided to “just do it” and overdosed when her mum left town for the weekend and was found just in time, purely by chance because her mum had come back to pick up something she’d forgotten. They released her two days later while she was still very suicidal with a referral to see a psychiatrist in a week. 

That’s when I lost any remaining faith in the system.

Mental illness scared me. I knew I had issues, I knew my depressions were getting deeper and suicidal thoughts more lingering, but like hell I was going to admit it. Asking for help seemed to just make things worse for people so if a Dr ever expressed concern about my wellbeing I asked them about their own lives to change the subject. Worked every time.

Ava’s mental health deteriorated, like me she issues with dissociation and had always been Up or Down, but now the downs were killing her and the Ups too brought severe consequences. Debt collectors chased her while she continued to rack up debt on manic shopping spree’s. She became addicted to prescription painkillers after slipping a disc in her back and that’s when everything really fell apart.

Moving to Sydney for a fresh start went well for a while but the depression always came back and it bit hard.

She was eventually hospitalised and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I had heard of it before but I didn’t know anything about it. A nurse briefly explained it to me and when I realised it fit Ava’s life like a glove, alarm bells started ringing about my own issues, then the nurse said there were always big problems with maintaining relationships and I remember clearly thinking ‘oh good I’ve been happily married for years, I can’t possibly have it!’ 

Ha! Denial is a river in Egypt.

Ava was reliably unreliable often turning up on the doorstep at 10pm when she said she’d be there at midday but when I moved to the farm she was one of the few people who would make the effort to drive out and visit. She’d come when shit hit the fan too, she’d stay a few days we’d stay up until 3am talking but because of her meds she’d sleep until 1pm the next day, we didn’t have a spare room so she was on the couch in the lounge room and she got really angry if she got woken so I had to try and keep 4 children really quiet so we didn’t disturb her. It would have been okay occasionally but it was becoming more regular and Hubby was getting really angry and frustrated – I guess I was too, but it was Ava and she was basically family. Hubby said it was my place to talk to her, not his & while that was true You all know how I feel about confrontation- and besides, she was unwell and couldn’t help it. I kept quiet.

A few hospitalisations later Ava was re diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, which made a lot of sense but it also had a massive impact on her treatment- the doctors basically told her they couldn’t do anything and refused to treat her. The painkiller addiction worsened, she had to leave Uni and her boyfriend broke up with her.

She was devastated and came up to the farm again for a few days, one day she woke up and realised she had lost her medication somewhere in the house. It turned up but Hubby flipped when he heard because she was on enough drugs to tranquillise a horse and what if the kids had found them? It was becoming unsafe. Hubby said he didn’t want her to stay with us again until she was off the painkillers and while he didn’t say it, he essentially gave me the feeling that I had to choose between him and the kids or her.

The next time she rang in tears was a few weeks later, she was at boiling point and now living with her mother (they had a turmultuous relationship) asked if she could come up and stay for a few weeks. I immediately said yes because I loved Ava like a sister, I worried about her welfare and also I had no idea how to say no to her.

I rang a different friend in tears of my own when I got off the phone with Ava because I realised that this decision might cost me my marriage. My friend spoke to me for a while and asked me what I thought needed to happen, I knew that I had to tell Ava that she couldn’t come this time and I knew I had to tell her why.

I did it. It was the most awkward and painful conversation I have ever had, she just went silent why, she was so vulnerable at that moment and here I was kicking her while she was down. I could feel how betrayed she felt through the phone. Then she hung up on me and it was the last time we ever spoke.

Ive never forgiven myself for that. I want her to know that it wasn’t because she was unwell, it wasn’t because I thought she was a bad person. I felt like it was the only option I had at the time and I had to put my family first.

So much has changed since that day, my own mental health declined so much further, My ED relapsed, I too was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Borderline traits, I too was hospitalised and experienced psychosis and I also felt what it was like when close friends gave up on me.

I wish I could hug her, tell her I’m sorry, tell her I have so much more understanding of what she went through dealing with the mental health system now, tell her I know what it’s like when you decide to take your final breath and how it feels to wake up again knowing you’ve devestated your family.

Ava, if you’re out there, please know that I will always love you and always want the best for you. I’m sorry it ended like it did, but I had to do what I felt was right at the time. I thought I saw you once from a distance, pushing a stroller and I hope with all my heart it was you, that you found happiness because  it hurts deep in my soul that I don’t even know if you are alive or if the burden of mental illness eventually took you from us forever. I just want to say thank you for all the amazing experiences we shared and the hope you gave me simply by being my friend.

Love always,

Katie

Playing With Fire

I nearly burned myself again yesterday.

On purpose I mean, to get that twisted release that comes from binding yourself too tightly for too long until you explode in a senseless torrent of vile self-hatred leaving you with the need to die immediately. But for whatever great or awful reason, like you haven’t fed the guinea pig today or the kids are sleeping in the next room, you just cant right now.

You can’t swallow that bottle of pills you’ve been hoarding or stab yourself in the jugular with that broken ball point pen that’s been lying on the fucking floor since Saturday (CAN’T SOMEONE ELSE THROW THAT FUCKING THING IN THE BIN!?) Nope, deaths off the table so you need to find some other method of release, so you initiate a sequence of hard-core punishments on yourself for still having the nerve to exist in any way you can.

Of course, there are a whole lotta healthy ways to get a release, go for a run, scream into a pillow or have big fat orgasm… But old habits die hard and the fireplace and I? Well, we have a history.

I sat there looking at it as it danced for me with its eerie 2 in the morning glow, my chest was bubbling with intensity, my heart beating in my throat and my brain overloaded with a million words and images and things I forgot to do, things I might forget to do and that supressed grief that flares itself back into my conscious at the most inopportune of moments.

Crushing sadness at the dream I killed, fear for the future, disgust at the humongous hole that this has bored into my deepest self and confusion about the ability of day time me to just gloss over it all like it never happened and pretend pick up where I left off five years ago.

Like nothing ever happened. Like being diagnosed with mental illness, having suicide attempts and experiencing pure unbridled enlightenment never happened. Like I didn’t happen.

Throwing every life lesson we ever learned tossed aside like a piece of rubbish. Like Super Ted.

God the start of that kiddy cartoon made me bawl when I was little, probably should have been some sort of indicator of what would become of my mental health…

Thoughts still swirl around my steaming brain, I’m playing with fire sitting there, thinking this way, watching the embers fizz and spit their glowing sparkling whispers begging me to touch them.

Then my kid got up and startled me out of my ‘urge to burn’. Instead I went back to bed and tossed and turned marinading in my self-loathing trying to shake off the intensity without getting up again or waking my husband. I know he wants to help me at times like these but he’s tired and stressed and the last thing he needs right now is to be worrying about the likes of my pathetic anxieties.

I think the reason I feel so stuck right now is that I am absolutely caught up in the ‘anger’ stage of my waves of old grief and I haven’t been able to realise, or admit it to myself that I’m hurt and angry. I don’t want to be angry, I didn’t have a right to feel angry so I needed to squash the rage down with any other emotion I could possibly pile on top of it, self-pity included.

But I’ve come to a realisation that maybe to get through this I need to feel my feelings. So, Hell Yes I’m angry. I’m so fucking angry that I want to stomp and scream and cry like a 2yr old who’s dropped her icecream.

I feel like I’d finally discovered the meaning of my life and then entrapped by manic stupidity but it felt like out of the blue at the time, I got kicked to the ground, pissed on, discredited and humiliated for what was essentially a mistake. Every now and then when I start to finally feel safe and peek back up at the world through the gaps in my fingers, something small triggers me and I get kicked again. Hard. But this time, I am the one doing most of the kicking.

Enough.

I’m done torturing myself, I’m done blaming myself, burning myself and pretending not to be angry. I’m also done ignoring and suppressing that little nagging voice quiety whispering “maybe this isn’t entirely your fault?”

Because you know what? What if it isn’t entirely my fault? What if it was a misunderstanding and shit happens? Just like it was 15years ago, and even some of the two thousand other times that didn’t impact my life quite so heavily. I need to stop letting mistakes or misunderstandings like these define me.

I tell people I don’t hold a grudge, but boy can I hold a self-imposed guilt trip like a champion. I don’t want to play the victim anymore, I wanna play the hero.

Right now I’m faking life everyday, dressing up and putting on a show for the world and then coming home and taking my seething core of built up emotions out on the kids. Tick… tick… BOOM!

I saw my GP the other day to pick up an ongoing referral with intentions of being honest about my impending breakdown and reoccurrence of regular suicidal ideation, I walked into her office after a morning where all the trucks on the road looked like opportunities, the first words out of her mouth were “Wow you are looking really well! Great to see!” I had my hair and make up done and was smartly dressed because I was on the way into the office. I didn’t have the heart or the capacity to tell her that I actually feel overwhelmed with 1000 stresses, particularly that I have not only let my authentic self-down but I’ve sent it on a poorly built rocket launcher to the moon and that I am absolutely not going to be able to hold it together much longer.

Unfortunately it looks like I picked the wrong profession. I should have become an actor.

So, I simply said “thank you” to my GP, asked for the referral and left. I looked “great” she would either not believe me, get upset for not picking up on it, or… I don’t know, but basically after that I felt stupid and couldn’t say anything. Doctors, if your reading, of course it’s nice to compliment a person but please don’t assume how someone with mental health issues is feeling just by looking at them.

Okay, I will have to leave this here, I’m at work and I can’t concentrate because real life keeps interrupting me, besides, I have a false image to uphold.

AWOL

Ive been rather absent on here lately, real life and being back at work has zapped my energy along with the free time I used to use to sit down and read blogs.

I haven’t had much opportunity to write either, aside from a few hastily jotted down ‘phone notes’ here or there, this erks me because writing is often what keeps me sane when everything else is spiraling out of control (at least the only healthy thing!) That being said, I haven’t felt that overpowering ‘urge’ to write that has a tendency to grip me just as I start to fall asleep recently either…

When hubby and I decided to go ahead with taking over his parents Joinery business a few months ago, I knew I’d have to work in the office but I was planning to only work 3 days a week, at the moment I’m doing 5 and heaps of extra stuff at night and on weekends.

The plan is for this to be temporary because every time I have worked full time my mental health disintegrates into a pile of sawdust in the corner I am found rocking in and the reality of owning and running a small business is such that you can kiss your weekends, social life and financial stability goodbye for at least the first five years.

…But I digress, at least nobody can fire me and I won’t have management of an overworked underfunded department breathing down my neck about adherence statistics until I end up an anxious wreck overdosing in the carpark like last time.

This has become a touch ranty, sorry about that, I just had quick reality check mid rambling by way of a phone call from a good friend- she told me she’s just gotten  out of hospital after a horrible medical scare caused by a rare condition that ironically the daughter of a random stranger I talked to today also had (weird).

So this has left my friend with a lot of fear, pain and very few answers, not to mention she also runs her own business and is short staffed so has gone back to work. I’ll stop complaining about being a bit tired now.

Anyway, I will leave this here and attempt to write more interesting things next week because I’m going to be childfree in Sydney for 4 days (wahoo!) with Mum while she has her surgery. Uh oh, world war three seems to be breaking out in my kitchen (🙄teenagers!) see you on the flip side!

The Pixels Of The Universe

I’m watching shapes of collective ‘nothingness’ right now, those billions of dots that appear to make up the perceived universe are twisting and forming together again, noticeable enough to swirl seductively through the room as though they are about to physically manifest into something, it’s hard not to let it take my attention.

Glasses off, glasses back on. No change. 

It’s sudden obviousness is a little bit annoying. Nowadays, while they are always in the background, they are usually easily ignored and I rarely stop to notice them.

It’s hardly new to me, I think I’ve always seen the world this way. When I was young I was able to see the different hues within the ‘dots’ group together and form what I likened to a colourful shadow around people. When I mentioned this to my mother she became excited saying I was seeing ‘Aura’s’. 

I also loved to watch how the movement of the dots changed yet remained ‘dramatically organised’ near loud speakers in response to different music. 

People would look at me sideways when growing up I told them I could ‘see’ the particles that make up the atmosphere, I was laughed at by friends, shrugged off by adults and contested by the odd person who would momentarily humour my explanation, “The eye is incapable of seeing at a microscopic level, let alone atomic Kate”. I understood that, yet even when peering down the microscope in my fathers laboratory the dots swirled and fizzed in around and through all matter, solid or space, size unchanged. Perhaps they were part of the visual structure of my eye? Or from the part of the brain that perceives visual cues?

Somewhere along the way I gave up trying to work out what they were, it didn’t really matter, it just seemed odd to me that nobody else I knew could see them. When the digital age came about I likened the phenomenon to the pixels on a Television Screen, tiny dots that made up the world we saw, they were the pixels of the universe.  

When I’m manic they can seem explosive, like colourful fireworks exploding around me in several dimensions and I will often start to see them form into hallucinatory creatures or objects the way one sees images in clouds. While they can be annoying or overwhelmingly fascinating, they are never frightening.

I’m not alone here, I googled it and a collective of around a hundred people had replied to someone’s cry of “is this normal?” With screams of “Me too!”

We seem to see it basically the same way, for some it’s colourful, for some it isn’t, we all agree it’s nothing like eye floaters or ‘visual snow’, some have learned to group the colours and manipulate the flow of their movement, many seem hopeful that it could be a pathway to some mysterious psychic skill, telekinesis or even vision into an alternative reality. They don’t seem to be part of a mental illness- although those few of us prone to paranoia do perhaps find it makes it easier to start believing in the whole ‘Matrix reality’ theory… 

Old people, young people, all races and religions, glasses, no glasses – we have all seen them for as long as we could remember and were the only people we knew who could. The responses were filled with “Oh my God I am so glad that I’m not the only one!” And that made me smile.

I truly love the power of the internet to bring together those of us with weird and wonderful quirks, it helps us rise above our fears by offering a safe platform to ask “have you ever …?” and discover that we are in fact far from alone. Sometimes that small slice of unity gives us enough supportive courage to begin to celebrate our differences rather than feel like we should be ashamed them.

Has the internet helped you feel less alone?

Do you see the pixels of the universe?

For The Love Of Words

I was an avid reader from a young age, gobbling up works by Jackie French, Enid Blyton, John Marsden and Bryce Courtney like peanut m&ms.

While I read from most genres, I really loved relatable adventures. Descriptive  scenes I could picture myself in got my imagination whirling and books based on farms or in the Australian bush were my favourites. Once the stories ended I’d daydream for hours about how I’d react in the situations the characters found themselves in and imagined myself interacting with those characters. Books made anything possible!

Movies were great and all, but a book? Well that gave you imaginative control, the author may have guided your internal imagery by stating a characters hair or eye colour but it was you the reader that had final say in what they looked like. Movies took that magic away from you, not to mention they altered stories- destroying The Power Of One for example!

Nowadays, I love to write as much, if not more, than I love to read. Despite my love of reading, I hated writing as a child; journaling used to send me into a right tizz. I think I got too nervous about what was expected from me and just ended up with short sentences such as: “I went to the park. It was good.”

This was before I discovered it was okay to be imaginative and explain my experience of how I saw the park, that I could focus on the journey of travelling to the park, the sights, smells, feelings of anticipation as you tried to swing all the way around the swing set and even the disappointment of having to go back home again.

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I only realised that I enjoyed playing with descriptive text so much as an adult and while most of the words you read on my blog bear witness to the secret thoughts that have spilled from my overcrowded mind in a torrential downpour of snot and sorrow, I quite enjoy writing children’s picture books too! 

Something about the challenge of searching for a way to gently instill morality into a child’s mind by guiding them through a path of adventure and triumph over adversity and doing it as succinctly as possible gets me all tingly. Perhaps that’s why as someone who talks (and writes) incessantly, I prefer Twitter over other social media platforms – I need boundaries and the character limit is a brilliant challenge. 

As much as I love to write, I can’t write on command, well I can but I find it very difficult, I start to over think, over criticise and don’t produce the same quality of work.

My best writing happens out of the blue and often in the middle of the night. Something random suddenly triggers me, sometimes it even happens while I’m driving, I will get the overpowering ‘urge’ and I have to pull over and immediately write in the notes section of my phone, sentences pour out as though I am being possessed by a spirit.  These stories may be mine but in reality I’m just a vehicle for the words that seem to come through me from some sort of external force.

Because my writing guides me, I don’t guide my writing, as much as I love it, I doubt that I could ever be a successful author or journalist, I couldn’t imagine having to meet deadlines and conform with set structures. This is why I love to quietly blog, write little personalised picture books for my nephew and nieces, express myself through poetry and lyrics.

For me, writing is my art, it is a beautiful and powerful release, writing my memoir was the most therapeutic thing I had ever done, it is where I found the key to beginning to understand my authentic self and expressing my emotional ups and downs through my blog is where I discovered  an amazing, like minded community to share with.

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Are you passionate about writing too? How do you express your authentic self?

Catastrophic Ecstasy

I’m tired of all my emotional extremes, they’re slowly breaking me. Even when the bipolar is quiet my ability to turn mountains into molehills on a dime truly astounds me. I seem to subconsciously love to watch myself burn and then writhe around in agony.

Life can be so much more than a million shades of grey and while the bold, bright colours continue to try and bleed their beauty into my soul, for some reason, I can only seem to truly ever feel the world in black or white, all or nothing.

It’s catastrophic ecstasy.

It can be hard for me to form healthy boundaries, hard to care about things just a little, hard to know when to back off. I love passionately, I feel deeply, I rarely hate but I’m well practiced at indifference which some say is worse and I am acutely aware that fear drives many of my decisions. Fear of judgment, fear of disappointing or hurting someone and the underlying fear of being wrong no matter what anyway.

When the emotional sledgehammer comes down I want to pick death over consequence every time. I don’t know if it’s a need to escape pain, feel freedom from responsibilities, an attempt to gain some control by running away before my true nature can be discovered and I am hated by those who I cared for or at this point perhaps it’s simply become a bad habit. 

Whatever the root cause, if someone hurts me or worse I hurt someone, capital punishment for my real or imagined crime immediately feels like the only possible solution.

The other day in one of these unjustified fits of internal devastation, I wanted so badly to jump from a 32 story building – all because of a silent argument, no ill words were even spoken, simply a vibe I guess, body language I picked up on, just enough ‘signs’ to form the cracks in my fragile heart that allow that little voice space to squeeze through and spit it’s vile opinions. 

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“You know he hates you right? Deep down he regrets ever being with you. You are holding him back, he resents you, you have just been guilting him in to staying with you and he certainly deserves better than your ugly fat ass” 

I reviewed the half lit sobbing mess looking back at me from the mirror. I am disgusting; I am a worthless, hopeless broken child masquerading in a grown women’s body.

I peer gingerly from the window of my hotel room and look down at the lights of the city and the ground so far below. As I envisage a way out of this painful existence, the voice in my mind takes on an authoritative almost excited tone.

“You’re always going to be like this you know, you can’t just want to die every time he is upset with you, you’re a fucking sook, he can’t live his life walking on eggshells because you are too sensitive. That’s bullshit, that’s emotional blackmail and people like you deserve to die, do everyone a favour…fucking jump bitch!” 

It was true, he doesn’t deserve to be stuck with this mess, nobody does.

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I glance through the moon lit room back towards the bed at the snoring silhouette of my husband and put my hand on the metal window winder and start turning, quietly, one rotation at a time as not to let the oil starved mechanism wake him. Suddenly it stopped, the windows didn’t open far, certainly not far enough for my ever expanding frame to slip through. Heavy tears rolled down my cheeks and I crumpled to the floor pressing my face into the cold window glass and desperately searching the world below me for an answer to end this tragic woman I had somehow become. 

Train station, buses, drunken party goers stumbling around the streets looking to keep the night going. Hell even eating something from that dodgy looking kebab shack, the city was full of potential solutions to my problem but I was stuck 18 floors up in my pyjamas, too exhausted by the weight of living to sneak out of the room to the streets below.

The pressure in my forehead from trying to ugly cry silently was almost as intense as the waterfall of snot streaming from my nose and defeated I fumbled my way back into the bed trying not to wake my husband. As I buried my face into the pillow he rolled over and threw one arm around me “mmm I love you so much” he muttered, still sleeping. 

Turned out he wasn’t even angry at all, I’d somehow imagined the whole scenario, concocted yet another series of lies based on what? A funny look, a ‘vibe’? I can’t trust my feelings, it’s as though even when void of an episode of mania or depression I’m constantly being gas lit by a part of my own brain that clearly wants me dead and it’s absolutely exhausting. 

Along with the bipolar and food issues when I was in hospital I was once also diagnosed with “Borderline Personality Disorder” by a doctor that frightened me, a doctor I hated. This was a diagnosis I fought hard internally to deny, because – well I can’t give a good reason ‘why’ because when it comes down to it I suppose it was purely related to stigma. I knew very little about BPD, I knew that a lot of people thought people with Borderline were mean, attention seeking, emotional black mailers and the thought of being viewed that way absolutely destroyed me. I also believed there was no treatment, so if he was right, I was a lost cause.

At the time, I had been hospitalised for an episode of bipolar mixed mania inclusive of a suicide attempt and I managed to convince myself that the doctor had only suggested BPD because in my manic delusional state I had gotten really angry about something I no longer remember and yelled at him rather abusivly (which was something I had never done before or since to anybody let alone a doctor).

Since then I have learned a lot more about BPD, it’s a bloody hard thing to live with but it doesn’t mean your ‘personality is flawed’ and there are a lot of overlaps with bipolar (mood stuff, impulsivity, suicidal ideation) and even my ED (which has always been a trigger for self harm), many of the other symptoms of BPD do in fact fit me too, the dissociation issues, extreme sensitivity. My current psychiatrist has known me for 3 years now, she says I don’t meet enough of the criteria to also be diagnosed with BPD although I do have a number of “traits”.

Honestly, I was relieved when she said that, it felt freeing, like the shackles of stigma from a misunderstood ‘disorder’ had been officially released from my bruised wrists and yet unfortunately the symptoms I had long feared were caused by BPD didn’t magically melt away when the diagnosis did.

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Mental illness, whatever the label, is the ultimate challenge, a constant fight against an opponent who knows all of your weaknesses, it can hurt so unexpectedly and so badly sometimes, it hurts like burns from fire and ice, but sometimes it opens your mind to endless possibilities, friendships and love.

Black and white, all or nothing, catastrophic ecstasy.

Free Fall

It took 20 minutes to descend from 35,000 ft to the earths surface below me and less than 20 seconds to plummet from the 18th floor of the skyscraper hotel I was staying in, all the way down to the ground.

Both were of course, gentle, controlled landings, but one can’t help but consider the potential outcome if any of the mechanics that can bring you safely and swiftly down to earth should fail. 

It’s a bit hard for me to admit given all of my recent ‘progress’, but I’d be lying if I told you that part of me wasn’t looking out across that aeroplane wing as I left the Brisbane sunshine behind me, hoping that this time I wouldn’t make it home, that I wouldn’t have to be strong anymore. 

That sadness that sometimes grips me was once again clawing for its freedom from that dark place where it quietly resides, deep within my soul; the same secret sadness I imagine some of you feel from time to time too. 

It has been with me again for a while now, not quite taking over but loitering in the background, sometimes pushing forward a little, just to call attention to its everpresence. 

It came and held me there in that flying metal tube, reminding me of my fears and nudging at my insecurities while paradoxically comforting me with it’s familiar embrace as we soared together, defying gravity across the mysterious blue evening skies.

 

As the sun set slowly over heaven and earth I absorbed myself within the breathtaking view, the yellow ball of glowing life melted away into an orange puddle, spreading itself across the horizon until it was quietly swallowed up by darkness, replaced by the twinkling light of distant stars that were seemingly sent to refuel our souls with hope of a new tomorrow and yet gently remind our egos of their true insignificance.

35,000 ft below, the world went about its business, oblivious to those floating high above, as we were oblivious to them. Each person in our little patch of the atmosphere was going about their unique life, we were brought together at this moment by hundreds of different reasons, we were people from different places, people with different experiences, different hair, different skin, of all different ages and different beliefs. But for all of our beautiful differences as I looked around the aircraft, noticed the crying toddlers and sleeping old men, I thought about how we shared so much more than just a common destination, we shared the incredible unique ability to think and question, each of us holding a unique dream and a unique perspective of not only life but this very moment. Together, whether we knew it or not, I realised that in that moment, we all shared the unique experience of person hood, and it was a truly magical feeling.

I took a deep breath and pushed back against the sadness, acknowledging its presence in my heart and letting it know I didn’t need it right now. This was my world, my choices and my perspective and it was beautiful. We descended from our secret little place in the sky back down into the chaotic city of Sydney below, welcomed by bright lights and beeping horns. I surveyed the incredible display of humanity surrounding me and I smiled to myself; this, was life

Dying From Embarrassment

Embarrassment is my strongest kryptonite. 

When I am shamefully embarrassed I can go straight from happy go lucky to suicidal with no in between time. 

I’m okay with mild embarrassment about lots of things, ie acting like a dickhead on the internet, wearing my hair brightly coloured – you know, controlled embarrassment, I chose to put myself in that situation and I’m ok with people judging me or laughing at me because of it, I’m expressing myself and not everyone will like that, but it’s part of the territory, right?

For me, soul crushing shameful embarrassment occurs when something I do, think or believe is beyond my conscious control occurs because of me or I do something accidentally to cause people to believe I am a horrible person when I didn’t intend to be and it kicks me square in the head, I find it all consuming and very difficult to separate myself from the situation or issue.

For some stupid reason, or even a bunch of reasonable reasons dating back to various childhood traumas, I deeply care about what others think of me, the real me. Not my silly YouTube persona or my blue hair- primarily I don’t want them thinking I’m mean or attention seeking. 

Due to some deep seeded childhood issues, to be either one of those things makes me feel completely unworthy of being alive. 

Yes, I am an extrovert by nature and well yes, I write a blog, so perhaps I am a bit of an attention seeker, (remember to follow & like 😉) but that’s okay with me because I can rectify it in my mind by admitting that I like getting comments and feedback and interacting with people, besides if they don’t like it they don’t have to read it. But I guess then I am a slightly closeted attention seeker because I don’t share these things with people in my ‘real life’.

I don’t cope well when I am embarrassed about doing the wrong thing, if I am depressed then that is multiplied by a million, if a car beeps its horn at me for taking too long at the traffic light I feel like my world has collapsed a little, the shame and guilt for inconveniencing or upsetting someone overwhelms me and I can end up with an anxiety attack from it, when I get really bad if I had a gun handy, it would be enough of a final straw to get me to pull the trigger. I have taken the blame for two car accidents that weren’t technically my fault because I was so embarrassed and shocked that I assumed they must have been. (One of them I was in a parked car. – Yes, my insurance company hates me!)

The embarrassment I am most fearful of these days is, I am ashamed to say, still related largely to mental health or social stigma. Fear of being judged if I ever spoke about depression or having suicidal thoughts, fear of being labelled ‘crazy’ or ‘weak’ by friends, relatives or even as “just attention seeking” by doctors. Perhaps when I was younger it was thinking that I was a middle class, straight, white girl from a good suburb that made me feel unworthy of feeling sad therefor unworthy of seeking help, I felt sure that if I asked for help people would just see my ‘great life’ and assume I was a spoilt little girl wanting even more. “There are starving kids in Africa you know!”

I decided early on in childhood that if I made a suicide attempt, I would make damn sure that it would be 100% affective so nobody could taunt me. When I finally decided to enact one of the thousand suicide plans I had whirling around my broken brain and while I did that to the best of my ability and available resources, circumstances beyond my control meant that my attempt failed. When I came to in the ICU department days later and slowly got my bearings I felt a combination of numb nothingness and guilty embarrassment but thankfully nobody accused me of just ‘attention seeking’.

The other major cause of embarrassment in my life is having these psychosomatic physical symptoms that I whinged about incessantly here. These make me feel ashamed because I feel like I should bloody well be able to just STOP it, although I am learning I can no more talk myself out of that than I can talk myself out of bipolar disorder, it’s hard because I feel like an attention seeking fraud when I reach for the heat pack, complain about my aches and pains or struggle to hand write a letter. It infuriates me that natural childbirth came easy to me yet I can’t seem to cope with a pain that I have essentially “made up” in my mind. Because I never know if anything I feel is real or not, frankly unless I’ve got an obvious physical issue, like a bone sticking out of my skin then I really don’t want to go anywhere near a doctor because they will just roll their eyes and assume I’m attention seeking. 

That fear of particularly doctors, a profession I grew up having the greatest respect for, judging me, looking at each other and thinking I’m a fraud or a liar just makes me feel humiliated and stupid, I want to crawl into a hole and die making sure of course to die ‘properly’ so that I cannot be revived and accused of attention seeking! The symptoms might not kill me, but the embarrassment and shame connected with it has come close a couple of times!

As I am learning to understand myself better I am also slowly learning how to forgive myself, particularly learning to forgive that young me, the little child who was just doing the best she could with what she had. I am learning that the coping mechanisms she used such as using self hatred and self harm were a paradoxical form of protection from fear and embarrassment. (Hate and belittle yourself before someone else does then at least you get perceived control over the situation) I now know that they served their purpose fairly effectively at the time but they are not healthy and no longer necessary and I am learning new tools and healthy coping methods. 

I am also learning and better yet starting to believe, that things that go wrong aren’t automatically my fault. I still have a way to go with this embarrassment anxiety issue, but for the first time in my life I genuinely feel that it’s something I can conquer and something I deserve to conquer, and that already feels like a win.

How well do you cope with embarrassment?

Thirsty Dissociation

Winter is bleak. Or maybe I’m bleak… 

I’ve written about 10 lines of 10 different blog posts in the last week but I’ve lacked the enthusiasm to finish any of them. 

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I feel like I don’t know who I am right now, I don’t recognise myself in the mirror, who is that girl and why am I wearing her face? I know she has blue eyes and blonde hair like I remember I do, she looks like photos that are supposed to be of me and yet I can’t relate to her. 

It’s a detachment which is also filled with an odd sensation, like a buried anxiety/nervousness and it’s making me feel what I can only describe as deeply thirsty, ravenously thirsty, Burke and Wills on Lithium thirsty, to the point where I actually dreamed I was being waterboarded last night and it was sweet relief. 

Thirsty dissociation

Should I be blaming my attitude, the bipolar, the full moon, the general social downfall of society or just recent events?

It is what it is.

I’m tired.  No scratch that, I’m absolutely fucking exhausted.

It’s like my inner self has been suddenly overthrown by a general feeling of bitter melancholy, but it’s not entirely unfounded, stuffs been happening this last 6 weeks, big stuff. 

Bad stuff, happy stuff, life changing stuff. I can’t really call it ‘depression’ in my usual sense of the word because of all the stuff, it’s more of a ‘burn out’ but honestly, it feels the same.

Mr 14 hasn’t been having a good run, he managed to step onto the blade of a knife he’d been throwing at him trees with his friend. One bounced back into leaf litter and bark landing blade up, he didn’t see it and managed to step on it, resulting in an arterial bleed and many stitches. Nothing like a spurting artery to remind you how far away the hospital is from the farm.

Then Hubby and Mr 14 were in a car accident, when it first happened I was terrified, thank you to JP who offered real time comforting support even though he lives on the other side of the planet! I got a call saying that they were ok but the ambulance was coming, it was hard to know what that really meant.

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The road was icy and hubby had just spun out all of a sudden. He saw the tree as it hit the side of the car where Mr14 was sitting and he thought 14 would surely die.

The car was a write off but thankfully they both somehow walked away un-injured, but hubby still sees that tree in his mind, still feels the fear of potentially losing his child and he hates that there was nothing he could do to prevent it, and nothing he can do to prevent it from happening again.

We have just taken over my in laws business, which should also be exciting. But it’s not, if I’m feeling anything, I’m apprehensive, it feels like a huge commitment to stay well, plus debts, expectations, trying to learn so many new things – I was getting really overwhelmed and anxious about it and then hubby had the accident and I stopped feeling anything about it. Now I’m only feeling numb again. 

I hate the numb, it seems to have become my default ‘can’t cope’ strategy over the last few years. I keep forgetting to shower and after I take the kids to school I just climb into bed and watch TV instead. 

Next week I’m zipping up to warm, sunny QLD with hubby for my brothers wedding – he’s marrying a wonderful lady who also happens to share my first name, so now she will have my full maiden name which is a little bit amusing and a little bit odd. I will get to see my gorgeous nephews and nieces again and I should be really excited, Hubby and I haven’t had a holiday together since our honeymoon 15years ago. I’m intellectually so glad my brother has found happiness, thankful to get away from the cold half of the country and grateful to spend time with hubby, but my actual emotions seem to have cleared off and the whole thing feels too hard, I would rather stay in bed and just sleep.

I just paused this to answer the phone, it was the insurance lady settling our claim. I should be happy that at least we will be able to replace Hubby’s car soon, but I still feel detached, unreal. 

Thirsty.

Just Call the F*ing Helpline

You know what is silly? I got so overwhelmed, upset and suicidal recently that I finally actually called Lifeline. That’s not the silly part, that was the smart part, the silly part is the reason I was calling was because I was feeling really embarrassed (read: deeply ashamed) about this bullshit psychosomatic pain issue I have which has been flaring over the last few weeks and yet until right before I finally picked up the phone I thought I would rather die from that embarrassment than make that simple phone call.

Now I didn’t call helplines, I’ve only done it once before (read about it here) and that was when I wasn’t suicidal or upset and it was a brief call purely to try and understand how they operated (this was due to some persistent paranoia about possibly being hauled off to a hospital by the police), and to let you guys know what to expect and also to give myself the confidence to call if/when I really needed to. But right now I am going to get on my soapbox and tell you to swallow your pride or your fears and when things get bad, just call the fucking helpline!

The other day my stupid hands stopped working to the point of being unable to type on my computer! This meant I couldn’t use my writing as my usual therapy to work my way out of anxious situations and I started catastrophising that ‘what if’ I couldn’t write ever again? Then in my tiny mind, there was absolutely no point to life. Then those feelings were overthrown by feelings of intense shame and embarrassment about the fact that this whole hand problem is all caused by a psychosomatic issue, I felt ashamed about my inability to control my own mind and prevent it from trying to destroy me and that turned into thinking about every negative thing that has ever happened and totally losing sight of any of the (plentiful) good bits. I decided that I couldn’t keep doing this anymore, thinking, living; I was too bloody exhausted.

An hour prior I had been reasonably okay and yet here I was about ready to end it all based on a spiral of negative thoughts, I grabbed out my hidden tablet stash and then I paused for a second, it was 2pm, a really impractical time to kill myself, the kids needed picking up and I couldn’t do it at home because someone would find me – FUCK! Then they would definitely think I am attention seeking and that really wasn’t my fucking goal here believe it or not, I just needed the pain and frustration to stop.

So, I picked up the phone, took a deep shaky breath and called Lifeline. I guess my confidence boosting technique had helped me more than I realised after all.

An older guy answered the call, I don’t know his name, they don’t automatically use names at Lifeline, but for the purposes of this I am calling him Barry because he sounded like a lovely old guy I worked with once called Barry. Anyways, I introduced myself in the dignified manner of immediately bursting into tears, on the bright side I guess he gets that a lot because he could accurately decipher “sob-talk”. He was super nice, validating and understanding and he let me vent even though my problem was stupid – well I thought it was, he said he didn’t think so.

I’m like: “I’m feeling like an attention seeking idiot *sob* and now I’m calling you which is pretty much just proving that that’s true *sob* but I can’t kill myself right now because I don’t have time, I have to pick the kids up form school…*sob*” After quickly convincing him that suicide was definitely off the menu for the moment Barry was like: “You have called us once before, ever, and we get people who call us every single day 5-10 times a day, you are hardly one of our ‘frequent flyers’ it’s okay for you to call and you know what? It’s okay for them to call too! If you need to talk, you can always feel okay about calling us.” That made me feel better, we chatted a while and then he gave the spiel about my perception being my reality and whatever the cause of the pain was I was still feeling it and that made it real, he assured me I was already doing all the right things by seeking help and being open minded.

The call made me feel heard and a lot more grounded and when I got off the line I was actually smiling, if you need to feel better call Lifeline Australia (13 11 14) or your countries version of the suicide hotline. Seriously, I was holding the bottle of pills in my hand (I neglected to tell Barry that part) and had been ready to literally die from what was essentially embarrassment, suicide has been my ‘go to’ response for such a long time now that it was difficult to see that all I really needed in that moment was someone compassionate to vent at. Damn my impulsive streak.

I guess what I am saying here is at least open yourself up to the possibility of calling before making any permanent decisions, if you are hell bent on suicide then you have to admit you have nothing to lose by making the call and if you are scared of being talked out of it then you and I both know deep down that means part of you wants to live and while living can be hard and painful and scary, there is help for the bad bits and it is worth holding on because life can also be fucking beautiful and amazing and you deserve to experience the good bits too!

Do you get really, devastatingly embarrassed?

Have you ever called a helpline? If so what was your experience like?


Lifeline Australia ph 13 11 14

Psychosomatic Pain & Feeling Like an Idiot

Note: This was written a few weeks ago, forewarning – it is very ‘woe is me’ and completely un-inspirational but I thought I’d share it anyway.

I am severely frustrated right now because my hand/forearm cramps are acting up again, both sides but predominately my right hand, presumable because I use it more, anyway it is making it really difficult to type right now. I lost the ability to write more than a paragraph with a pen by hand around 10 years ago, but luckily it’s the new millennium and we have computers and smart phones so other than the odd note to a kids school teacher I rarely have to hand write anything.

It’s an issue that is ever present on a mild scale seperate to but also weaving in and around my mental health problems. It also flares up really badly from time to time and when that happens it’s really hard to do basic things like hold a coffee cup, cut with a knife etc – it renders me to arthritic grandma status for anywhere between a few weeks to a month and then settles down again. Normally when this flares up it flares with a bunch of other bizarre disconnected physical symptoms, headaches, weird vision, numbness, tingling and stiffness (like I over did it at the gym)mouth ulcers from hell and increasing upper back/neck/shoulder area pain.

The first doctor I saw about these issues when I was about 16 said it was caused by iron deficiency because of the eating disorder, then it was because I was still a vegetarian so I even started eating meat again, then it was because I was pregnant, then I was told at 19 after having my second child that it was because I was too fat. (!) Then I lost weight (and relapsed) so it was because I was too skinny, then I had my 3rd kid and finally had a normal BMI and no iron deficiency so it must have been because I was stressed.

During a really bad flare Mum made me change doctors and drove me there herself, I was so stiff I was barely able to walk, borderline incontinent, dizzy, lost my sense of smell, had useless hands not to mention what I know know was severe dissociation and depression – I needed constant help to care for my children. The new doctor was really nice, he listened and ran a stack of blood tests. He was concerned about the possibility of MS and referred me to a neurologist, the waiting list was 8 months. By the time the appointment arrived my flare had passed and I was symptom free and even able to climb stairs and smell again, I was also unexpectedly pregnant with my 4th child. (Surprise!)

At the long awaited appointment the Neurologist spent less than 10 minutes with me, he asked if I could smell some cloves (I could) and got me to walk across the room (no worries) then told me there was nothing neurologically wrong and he couldn’t give me an MRI even if he wanted to because I was pregnant. He charged me $450 and said my symptoms were psychosomatic due to stress/depression leaving me humiliated and feeling like a total fraud who was wasting everyones time. I didn’t go back to the nice doctor out of sheer embarrassment that after all his kind concern, I was just subconsciously ‘making it all up’.

When I started having physical issues again I didn’t do anything until years later I suddenly got a very obvious foot drop and was forced to seek help. I was referred to a different neurologist and given an MRI which was negative for MS (yay!), unfortunately the steroid treatment I was given only took 1 day to launch the manageable and rather productive hypomanic episode I had already been in for several months into a full blown psychotic mixed mania that was the beginning of the end of my public service career.

I was treated for mental health issues and after a subsequent depression the mania re surfaced, they looked a little further into my history of depressions and wonderful periods of euphoria and careless impulsivity I was officially diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and part of my life suddenly made sense, but not all of it, I still had those pesky physical issues although they were never as severe before my 4th pregnancy. I also still had the damn foot drop which lasted more than 1/2 a year.

The neurologist had initially said the foot drop was definitely physical because of something to do with a nerve conduction study but after the Bipolar diagnosis my GP was certain it was all psychosomatic. So due to that embarrassment coupled with the fact that nothing was treatable I didn’t bother going back to the doctor for these ‘same old’ problems, until now. I decided to go back to the GP and ask for a physio referral just in case there was some sort of strengthening exercises I could do to help the issue.

GP : “We never found any specific cause in the past and you have a history of mental health issues, so we can pretty safely assume it’s psychosomatic, now fuck off and stop bothering us.” (Okay, she didn’t say the ‘fuck off’ part.)

Me: “I honestly don’t care WHY it’s happening anymore, I’m happy if its psychosomatic then maybe it will go away, but in the interim, maybe some exercises or even the placebo affect of seeing a physiotherapist will help? Please just make it stop because it’s making my life really, really difficult!”

GP: “Definitely psychosomatic, but I will give you the physio referral if you insist”

Sometimes it just infuriates the fuck out of me, you know? I know it’s in my head, I know. I accept that we have ruled out everything else and proven that to be fact but it still hurts and it still irritates me because there is so much judgement and stigma associated with psychosomatic pain/issues. I am aware on one level that this is probably no more consciously preventable than depression is, I mean we all know we can’t think our way out of a thinking problem, or whatever that catch phrase is. Subconscious playing up and  causing a physical sensation, yadda, yadda, I understand the theory but still I can’t help but hate myself a little more every time my arm goes numb again or I get another headache or whatever weird sensation is happening.

Right now I am really struggling to even type – my typing ability isn’t usually affected like this and I keep making mistakes because my hand is trying to twist itself into a pretzel while I push it anyway because all I want to do is rant and rave. I also want to stomp my feet and scream at myself, “For fucks sake Kate, pull your fucking head in and STOP this shit! There is absolutely NO FUCKING REASON for this pain or muscle contortion. YOU are causing all of this to YOURSELF you are MAKING THIS UP in your silly little brain, they did scans and bloods, we all know that there is no problem to find because IT DOESN’T FUCKING EXIST, the pain is IN YOUR STUPID LITTLE IMAGINATION and yet you can’t seem to stop torturing yourself for no obvious reason or gain! You don’t like the pain, you certainly HATE the embarrassment of seeing doctors about it and so why can’t you just fucking STOP making life so difficult for yourself!!!!

Wow I’m being super catty today, sorry, I’m apparently mean when I’m frustrated. I do know that psychosomatic pain is still legitimate pain, it is still real pain felt by the body even if the cause isn’t physiological and I am not trying to diminish anyone else’s experience I am just really, really over it. I got so low after that doctor visit that I became suicidal from just the embarrassment of the whole thing.

Have you dealt with psychosomatic pain or have you had doctors dismiss your physical concerns due to you mental illness diagnosis?

Update: I did talk to my psychiatrist about this and she is very certain that it’s physiological not psychological and the physiotherapist agrees, she thinks the hand stuff is from an issue with my upper back and is fixable, she is giving me exercises to work with. Fingers crossed!

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