Chameleon

Dear M,

I don’t know when or how this all started, I don’t remember anymore, honestly I don’t know if I ever knew. I just woke up one day and this was my life now. Suddenly I became aware that I had thoughts, the ability to act, receive consequences, feel feelings and uphold so many responsibilities. 

But the truth is I didn’t know how to be this person I supposedly was now, it was overwhelming beyond my capacity at the time and I guess despite many years of attempts to understand the world around me, myself and my place among it better, I still don’t really have much of a clue what’s going on, either inside or outside of my head. 

There is so much noise and there are so many emotions and possibilities contained within a human brain, wondrous and inspiring ideas and beliefs but so many conflicting ones too, love, indifference, fulfilment, loss, excitement, devastation, so many of these contradictions that seem to manifest upon themselves, allowing me to become trapped within the black and white lies that I have told myself over and over again. 

I don’t really remember any other way of thinking, of being, outside of the extremes I mean. Yet to the average bystander I can blend into normality seamlessly. I have a brilliant and subconscious ability to sense my environment and then camouflage into it like a chameleon. Perhaps simultaneously my most helpful and unhelpful trait.

Was my need to blend really born from an innate urge to protect oneself though any means necessary? Perhaps. Or maybe I was simply hiding from the fear of being rejected for being myself.

I know in my heart it is wrong to feel the need to hide in this way, yet I continue to bury my authenticity so we and they are all somehow blinded to the colours of my own personal madness. 

Thoughts circle around and around my mind, questions mostly. Questions regarding competency, morality, reality, what to do next, they frenzy into a vicious whirlpool of quandary. Needless anxieties stemming from what? Nothing? Everything?

So many unexplainable thoughts and perceptions, all of them equally valid and invalid at the same time. I have repeatedly thought and thought and overthought myself into a vicious cycle of confusion, elation and despair. I’m so tired of it.

The further I step back the more clearly I see that there is nothing wrong within the shared reality that surrounds us, nature itself is a balanced form, yin and yang seemlessly merged together, changing form but never changing soul, atomically perfect with no basis for me to embody this snowballing pattern of self destruction and yet here we are. 

Drama upon drama upon never ending drama; all brought upon me, by me. It’s the most disappointing soap opera ever written. And I wrote it.

Just like daytime television all of my problems are really just stories that stem from the depths of my own mind, perceptions of events that have become more and more skewed through the Chinese whispers effect of too much stimulation, too much exposure and too many simultaneous streams of thought competing for the spotlight. Sands in the hourglass.

These perceptions were skewed unintentionally perhaps, but still the fact remains that in the end I have somehow managed to create all of my own problems and form all of my own unhelpful reactions to every last one of these life experiences; all by myself. 

The only thing that was ever stopping me, was me.

I wish I could have seen this roadblock to growth in simple terms for what it was earlier, not focusing so hard on why it was. If I was ever to reroute from the roundabout I have been stuck on for so long, the ‘why’ didn’t matter. 

Finally unmasking the elephant in the room, or the hippo in ‘denial’ should surely free me from the metaphorical tombs of my mind, if it is possible to overcome the embarrassment of falling off the pyramid that is. The path to acceptance is acceptance, but acceptance is a hell of a fucking challenge.

So yes, I needed to see this self imposed roadblock as I see my reflection in a mirror.. although ugly, desperate and frequently unrecognisable, it’s a thing that can be hated on indefinitely and it will never improved, it is something that can only really be changed through active healing, for it will only ever be a representation of my perceived self that is staring back at me, even if that’s not something we want to unanimously acknowledge.

Maybe the takeaway I’m going for here is that I was only ever going to be able to move forward if I got out of my own way which means I guess it’s probably time for me to move on. 

Maybe stepping away physically will finally allow me to move forward emotionally and spiritually too. I used to be pretty good at simply ‘checking out’, maybe it’s time to reclaim it? 

Goodness knows I’ve stolen enough of your time, taken countless government dollars and resources that would have been so much better spent helping someone who really needed help to be helped, not just wasted on someone who is simply treading stagnant waters, unable to see past themselves. 

Please know that I am not searching or fishing for some sort of reassurance by writing this, I don’t want a reply, I am simply acknowledging my own accountability for my past actions, I hope you can believe that I was never intentionally malingering, I passionately hate that it’s possible for me to have been so (even subconsciously) selfish or even manipulative. 

That’s not who I wanted to be, ever. In fact it’s specifically who I didn’t want to be and it fills me with disappointment and genuine shame to realise that was how I was perceived by so many and that that was how I outwardly acted towards people. It’s unacceptable, but sadly not undoable so we must also choose to accept this awareness is part of a spiritual self development process.

This wasn’t supposed to be a pity party, so let me change track and say thank you. Thank you for providing such a supportive nurturing environment for personal growth without ever showing the slightest judgment or annoyance at things that must be ridiculously frustrating to watch. 

Thank you for standing up for what you believe in and using those beliefs to improve countless lives.

I wish you all the best in every aspect of your life, please never stop being you, share your gifts, the world needs many more like you.

Peace.

Day Dreamers Sleeping

I don’t know how to tell the difference between what has actually happened and what was simply dreamt of anymore. Memories of my reality are exactly like those of my dreams and it takes detective work to sift through their feasibility before one can make a determination either way. Even then sometimes it seems impossible to tell.

For example, I may or may not have gotten a speeding fine recently. I have a memory of speeding and seeing a mobile speed van and thinking about how Hubby was going to laugh at me because I’d just been picking on him about one he himself got a few days earlier. I remember thinking that we really couldn’t afford one let alone two fines right now.

But, when I mentioned it to hubby and he asked which road it happened on I realised I don’t remember what road I was on, where I was headed at the time or even which state I was driving in. It feels like it may have just been a dream, yet dissociation leaves most of my proven memories feeling this way too, so now I simply cannot tell anymore, we just have to wait for the fine to turn up or not I guess. 

It’s happening a lot and it’s disconcerting to say the least. Vivid dreams of mundane day to day life or even more sinister dreams of my complicity in various untoward activities evoke the same emotional reactions as I imagine they would if they were actually happening. Full body emotions that I am unable to let go for days, weeks, long after the memories have dissolved. 

Then again, things I assumed were dreams have later sometimes been revealed as actual events and honestly if someone knocked on my door falsely accusing me of something terrible, I myself wouldn’t even be able to be 100% certain that I hadn’t done it. My own mind is gaslighting me and it’s frightening as hell. 

I start getting paranoid just thinking about it, even writing this makes me feel like I’m setting myself up to be implicated in something but I’m forcing myself to write it anyway, to try and prove that my fears aren’t going to come true. Maybe another part of me thinks that I’d deserve it if they did. I hear a helicopter or see flashing lights and I know they’re on to me, ready to lock me up and throw away the key for something I can’t remember doing.

Yet somehow despite all of this mental chaos parts of my compartmentalised brain are keeping up appearances. They function at work, they take care of the kids and somehow I can successfully pretend to be a normal functioning adult even though on the inside I feel like my mind is melting. I just don’t know how much longer I can keep it up.

Elephants

2CE84229-A415-4D2A-ABF8-32892552F44EThe room is crowded. It’s full of elephants.

My aunt has a ridiculously large collection of elephants, and ironically bipolar. Actually in hindsight, those two things are probably linked…

Anyway. What was my point here again? 

Oh yes, elephants. 🐘

My last visit to my psychiatrist was a month ago and it left me somewhat perplexed/ confused. At this moment in time I struggle enormously to remember our whole conversation or for that matter, more than the very last part of it. I do remember that one statement though, it was one made by M and one that has been spiralling through my mind ever since on repeat, attaching itself like a leech to different meanings and different emotions depending on which part of me is thinking about it at the time leaving me bleeding disproportionately. 

The statement was, or words to this effect:

“There is so much going around in your brain right now it’s making you work too hard, but maybe you don’t have to. Maybe if you just acknowledge the elephant in the room (your mind) then you won’t have to work so hard avoiding it.”

Wrote about it in detail here whist annoyed, mildly dissociating and a tad hypomanic, read at your own risk. (You were warned.)

Ok, but what bloody elephant?!

She didn’t, wouldn’t, clarify. Apparently it’s one of those questions I had to figure out for myself in order for it to be useful. Instead it opened a Costco sized can of worms.

At first I was a bit pissed off. Like, I’m paying you $385 an hour to pretend to be my friend, just fucking tell me what the damn elephant is and why it’s here!

So I left the building un-enlightened, walked towards my car and stewed some more about other things she’d said, “acknowledging it doesn’t mean you have to do anything about it, just noticing it and accepting its presence will help”. 

How do you acknowledge something you don’t understand?

So, naturally I started overanalysing it, then all the voices in my head joined in and threw their unsolicited opinions into the mix making me ‘work’ far harder than I had been previously.

Paranoid me considered possibilities of various psychotic delusions and eventually decided that the elephant in the room was that my psych feels like I am just a hypochondriac with absolutely nothing wrong and is just waiting for me to figure it out while letting me slowly pay for her kids private school tuition. Nothing I have felt or experienced is real. 

What if I’m not really bipolar after all? What if I’m just a moody pain in the ass and a fraud who needs to suck up my stupid anxieties and get on with it?

This train of thought left the station for the moon for awhile resulting in Katie writing this lengthy ‘thank you so much for everything, but I can’t see you anymore because I’m wasting your time and the communities resources by going to see you for an imagined problem” letter.*

🎶 Three E-le-phants ba-lan-cing… 🎶 **

There was that other part of me who is desperate for ‘freedom’, she doesn’t believe that our relationship with Hubby is healthy, she doesn’t feel attached to the children or home and keeps threatening to bigger off, and oh yeah, she apparently likes girls. 

To make things even less complicated, she is attracted to our psychiatrist*** and wonders if the elephant in the room is M somehow being aware of that fact.

🎶Step by step on a piece of string…🎶

There is the part that is questioning the very fabric of reality, wondering if our psychiatrist knows far more than we thought about what’s really going on, the fake world, fake universe all illusions, but to what end?

🎶They thought it was such a wonderful stunt…🎶

Maybe M believes I really am psychic after all (not just psycho) and the people in my head are spirits. God knows I’ve believed it at various points. Even though she hasn’t come right out and said it, I know M quite likes the spiritual stuffs, I can tell by her reactions and level of topic comprehension when I’m euphorically hypomanic and getting preachy about such things, and there was that ‘crystal meanings chart’ that fell out of her notebook one time… 

She also knows I have been dealing with an exceptional quantity of ‘synchronicities’ and trying my hardest to deny them. Maybe she thinks I need to roll with those elephants after one of The Others somehow picked up on something personal to her by throwing a random vision at me constantly while I was talking to her****

🎶That they called for an-oth-er… ele-phant.🎶

What about my life, how can I live with all these other versions of myself inside my head with all their conflicting opinions and emotions and feelings? I love my children and husband more than anything, how can I stop the others from exisiting, from ruining everything for me? What if they act on one of their silly impulses? Technically, somehow deep down these also be my own impulses, and that’s even scarier still.

🎶 Four elephants balancing…🎶

Step by step on a piece of fucking trauma inducing wobbly string…

Damn it, Im triggering the shit out of myself right now. There’s already enough shit in my head, do you know how much elephants poop?! You see this song I’ve been non-chalantly weaving through this post is actually a trauma related trigger song. A song that sent me running to hide under my blankets as a small child quivering with fear. I loved watching Playschool but God I hated this song. 

Im amazed I got this far, God knows what possessed me to go down this track. I can feel myself starting to dissociate just writing those incomplete lyrics. This is probably the most fictionally literal elephant in my fucking head of all and I don’t want to understand it. And somehow I didn’t realise it was still lurking around the corner when I started writing this post and that singing started playing in my head and… 

Fuck You Bonita.******

I don’t want to acknowledge it, or notice it, because when I start thinking about it, or writing about it, I get that uncomfortable awful anxious overwhelm seemingly reserved for specific bad memories, my throat starts closing up and I get that awful feeling I can’t understand creeping up into my stomach. That particular elephant that shall not be named, it needs to stay hidden away under its invisibility cloak. I’m not ready yet.

[Continued weeks later…]

Inevitably, my elephants could balance no more and all suddenly fell to the ground into a disheveled sobbing heap of their own shit show, broken limbed and begging for mercy. But as I started to re-read this post realise that it was less a question of what elephant? And more a question of “which elephant?”

All of these topics, feelings, no matter how real or imagined or mine or perceived as those of an arguably imaginary alter ego, are all valid to some degree; because they all occupy a painfully large chunk of my brain space. 

Apologies for being quiet around here for a while, I guess my head was absolutely overrun by the stampeding elephants of my childhood nightmares. Now I realise that I just have to find a way to process them and live with them or at least despite them. Growth takes time. I see M tomorrow, in the meantime I’ll find another childhood song to sing.

 🎶nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms… 🎶 

Do you have your own elephants to conquer?

🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘

*Didn’t send it. Phew. 

**Non Australians or those Aussies not born in the 80s playing along at home likely won’t understand the elephant song reference – it’s from the popular children’s tv show called Playschool. Most people find it adorable.

***I’m not up for explaining it, at some point I will add a link to a short excerpt from my book here to catch you up…

**** Transference. 100% transference. As discussed by the offending self HERE.

***** This image was ironically actually linked to bloody Playschool! Another synchronicity?

******Sorry Bonita. It’s nothing personal.

Solicitation of the Mind

Do you ever have a conversation with someone and they point something out and you think they’re nuts and then BAM! A while later you have one of those epiphanies that was actually in front of your face the whole time but you were somehow blind to it?

We bitched about one HERE and all I can say is that it has snowballed. Considerably.

Some background…

I fall hard for writers, not just any writers though, I only find myself becoming seduced by authentic wordsmiths who can articulate the inner workings of my mind through their own. The honest ones, the ones that validate me by letting me finally find acceptance of my own life and feelings, acceptance that I have craved from childhood. Those words…

Oh God. They stir my soul like nothing else ever has, they fill my heart with purpose and motivate me to want to change the world!

IMG_9367

They make me feel this way because they are exactly who I want to be, who I authentically am. 

So, I guess this is essentially my fucked up way of trying to love myself. The technical term is probably projection.

I desperately want to talk to my psychiatrist about it and yet I can’t.

You see… there’s an issue with that. Not just that I can’t come forward enough to speak out loud because I know I could write to her. The big problem is that…

I have gone and fucking fallen in love with her. 

She isn’t even a writer! Well she could be, she has a way with words but I wouldn’t actually know, she’s extremely good at keeping her private life private and she’s very professional.

The technical term for my feelings here is transference. I am aware of that, I mean, I do all the talking in the relationship, I know absolutely nothing about her really. Yes, she is very beautiful and incredibly kind, but mostly she gives me the same validation I feel from those captivating wordsmiths, and (for a meagre $350 an hour) she listens to the authentic ‘us’, acknowledges me and appears to believe in me. 

Perhaps pychology is just a seductive solicitation of the mind, in a way. 

I can intellectually understand exactly why these feelings are emerging inside me, and I can equally comprehend that they have no real substance or potential to lead to anything more than feelings. 

Nor would I expect otherwise. Even if it was an option persuing a relationship would be ridiculous.

What I don’t know is how to stop the subconscious feelings, the fantasies. Perhaps that is why I’m writing this now, maybe even publishing it in the hope that I will gain some clarity or closure about this uncomfortable situation, after all a problem shared is a problem halved. Or is it just a new problem beginning because the internet is forever and infatuation is fleeting…

Saying this out loud feels like such a big risk yet perhaps it’s yet another hippo in denial that I must acknowledge. I suppose I’m terrified that she’ll somehow read this, that I will make her uncomfortable and I will lose her. I’ve long stated only half jokingly that if she moved to the other side of the country I’d have to move too. Not because I’m in love with her, but because I couldn’t possibly start telling my story all over again to someone new. 

The other issue that complicated things is that, as you know, I’m kind of part of a collective here in my head, body, life…

I/we have conflicting opinions about all sorts of things especially ourself/selves, questioning each other’s existence, comparing reality to perception to try and find a reason that we write and talk to ourselves. I have spent far to long trying to figure out what/who/why we are this way. It leads to so much confusion, so much conflict.

But ultimately, we are ‘Me’ these feelings we have, although seemingly individually, still affect all of us.

Marriage, children, businesses, sexuality, friendships, you know, all the big commitments in life. 

We have always collectively considered ourselves straight and yet only I seem to remember our first consensual sexual experiences; and they were with other girls. 

Then there have been various crushes I have had on women over the years that seem mostly forgotten or remained quietly unacknowledged by the others, maybe even by me, yet right now when I think of them I feel that familiar collection of anticipatory butterflies building in my throat. 

I can imagine actresses like Nicole DaSilva and I get all hot and tingly at the thought of caressing her body, her breasts. Yet I don’t, can’t, make myself feel that same way about men. There was only ever one man I personally could think of in this way, and my heart broke a million times in the process, but he was a writer – and upon reflection, that too, was quite clearly transference.

And yet, despite my realisations in this area I know that the other parts of me are the complete opposite. They can’t relate to my feelings just as I can’t relate to theirs, emotional amnesia. So where does that leave me? Where does that leave us? 

I/We, are happily married to a man. This is a man that they’re all attracted to even that part that seems to feel strangely masculine… My husband is a man who’s flaws are masked by a million reason why they are all head over heels in love with him, he’s the yin to their yang and there’s no doubt that they are perfect for each other.

I however, am not; and I don’t know how to pretend to be.

We are at a loss for how to sexually identify, neither gay nor straight, nor bi – because we are all different. Non binary perhaps? But not in the conventional way. It shouldn’t matter anyway, I intellectually champion the ‘love is love’ movement and yet emotionally I’m lost and unable to feel like myself because I’m body sharing, mind sharing.

I suppose in this self-governed mind-democracy, majority rules. 

Lake.

Hippos

“Stop working so hard, not at your job, in your mind.

I’m wondering if there’s something you’ve been trying not to think about, not wanting to think about and avoiding it is using up an awful lot of energy…

Yeah. Okay, there are about a million of those, to which one are you referring? Just say it. Verbalise it. Damn it, fuck all this work out your own answer shot, I’m paying you the national debt of a small country every year, so tell me what to do! I know, I know, it doesn’t work that way… Suzi is nodding with her head to the side in smug agreement but to me she’s just mimicking you, surely SHE should be assisting ME here not you. It’s her problem too. 

Oh God, please stop making me do the work here. I thought you just said I was supposed to cut back on that? Time to reflect and meditate won’t be possible for longer than I have left in me so please, at least offer your two cents, incase I can’t ever make sense of it. 

Then I can yes/no/omg-I-never-realised-that/ think about it. 

What do i say? 

Do I just blurt out our theories, the ones that circle through over and over?

Yeah, let’s play this game.

so… one set of theories. My warped sense of selves. 

I’m like, totally psychic (some would read psycho) and I seem to have what can only be described as spirits attached to me that latched on when I was little and now they are trying to live vicariously through me and my body, rather than just talking to me or writing to me like they used to. 

Plot twist, as I don’t remember huge chunks of my life and can barely grasp or relate emotional memory to the things that I believe happened but don’t exist in photographs so I can’t even be certain that I’m not the original owner of this body. In fact I’m pretty certain that I’m not…

theory 2:

I have Multiple Souls sharing my body inclusive of Siamese twin souls … explains why some of ‘the others’ feel like they are part of me and some don’t. Why we have such different opinions and conflicting beliefs and priorities.

3: 

My issues are a childhood coping mechanism for a series of unfortunate events (read lower case t traumas) coupled with an overactive imagination that somehow became habit and took on a force of its own to the point where I still seem to unconsciously rely on it in adulthood. 

Fourth:

Long theory short, Matrixesque, nothing here is real, this one comes back over and over in varying intensity and detail depth.

4a: never was so neither am I.

4b: I died, this is ‘imagination after life’

4c: this is some sort of test

Fifth:

The hippo being referred to is nothing to do with my internal conflicts and is in fact my relationship and the painful fact that I will never be able to be all of me while within it. But I thought M, me (and Einstein) had an understanding that I’m not actually expecting different results by locking this one back in its box for another time, another decade.

Sixth: I’m subconsciously hung up about the fact that I dream of women sometimes, oftentimes, unchained fictive beauties, who are absolutely unperfectly suited to me for a million reasons and yet I fall in love with people like they because they are poets, artists, intellectuals of the most beautiful kind and they all hold brilliantly onto the one thing that I desire the most in myself, authenticity. 

Eighth:

All of the memories I have are false. Simply constructs of reading too much, watching too many movies… this is why I don’t remember anything at all clearly. 

9th:

None of my thoughts and fears are real. The voices in my head are merely figments that I’ve talked with so often I’ve somehow imagined them to life. I invented and conjured everything up so intensely in my childhood that one day I began to perceive it as reality and now I just can’t tell the difference anymore.

Ten:

I’m not real. I’m one of them, an ‘other’ from her entirely bonkers, delusional, mad mind and none of this can ever make sense to anyone because it is simply nonsensical, see, there wasn’t even a seventh point! 

What else do I hate thinking about? What else scares me to acknowledge?

Maybe some stuff that may or may not have happened when I was little, but there’s brick walls in place miles high forbidding me to investigate anything deeper than the fuzzy emotional memories that are too unreliable to be real and utterly inappropriate to be wrong about. 

Sure, I can see that a few of these theories may sound a touch paranoid and delusional but believe you me, when broken down I can justify each and every one of them enough to convince the harshest skeptics of them all, (myself).

Move over dear, your ghost writer is becoming a well intended poltergeist with biographical inspirations only their truth is not necessarily the same as my truth. Do we even have a truth?

Acceptance. 

How can we accept the unacceptable, the inaccessible, the inescapable? 

She’s an outsider in a board meeting of invisible souls, but she doesn’t really know it, she’s the one in the dark, yet we expect her to shed some light. She looks at me as if she thinks I already know, but I don’t know what it is she thinks I know. And I don’t want to be wrong about what she thinks I know because… *sigh* perfectionism, general doubt, validity, being a disappointment…

How can you acknowledge something that doesn’t exist? How do you know if it does exist? Why does it matter? I acknowledge things that don’t exist all the time. This feels like a cryptic riddle but I’m an over thinker and over thinkers aren’t very good at riddles because they dismiss the answer too quickly even when it’s staring them in the face. And before you mention it, yes I am absolutely aware that I’m over thinking this. 

Don’t know if she knows what I don’t in fact know or if I actually do know the same thing she does. 

I’m just getting confused now. That we all know. 

 Denial might be a long river but fat floats and I’m actually a pretty good swimmer. 

Care to enlighten me with some information about the elephants I’m avoiding? Do they look more like hippos?

Look and see me standing on my soapbox from your pedestal – in that moment we are almost the same height. You look to me to find the answers I apparently already have and I look inside for them, time oscillates as I ask everybody in there too. 

But still nobody’s talking about the hippo in the river. 

Reasons. Synchronicities. Questions. Answers. Doubt. 

Kate

Implosion

**Trigger Warning – suicide, abuse, sexual stuff, self harm, intense shame**

– This was written a few days ago, I wasn’t going to post this at first… different parts of me are currently begging me not to, but at the same time I think I need freedom from it and maybe it can show others how swiftly emotions can go from 0-100 and back again. Probably don’t read it if you are triggered by dissociation or suicide. Maybe don’t read it anyway…

They’ve broken my computer. MY computer. It would be a small thing to most people but my computer isn’t just another materialistic possession to me, no, its my sacred vessel that transports me into another realm, the home of the internet and my secret second life, the only place where I am free to write, to blog, the place where I could authentically be each part of myself and feel accepted without causing pain, without repercussions.  For years the only thing that has kept me alive has been the ability to pour my heart out and share my deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings with an anonymous community that have somehow become my friends. My best friends.

My thoughts spin out of control as I stare at the broken computer, I feel betrayed, grief stricken, my sanctuary and lifeline has been stolen from me. Blind rage wells up from a place deep within my soul, I yell, I curse, I blame, I hate and I regret. I regret having children, getting married, surviving my suicide attempt, I regret everything I have ever done. I want to jump up and down until my knees give way or I fall right through the old wooden floor beneath me. I need to get away.

I want to run but there’s nowhere to go, all that is in front of me are four bewildered kids watching their mother shatter into a million pieces right in front of them.

Again.

I can’t hold on anymore, I don’t know what to do. The voices in my head are rioting and the world is falling away from me. I need to release this anger that has taken me captive and scream until the window glass shatters into oblivion and I can slice open my wrists with the broken shards while I watch my crimson blood spill away into darkness, into freedom.

But I can’t. I am gagged and bound by an invisible source drawing the line I cannot cross so instead I lock myself in the bathroom, hyperventilating and wishing feverishly that I could just end it right here. I catch the reflection of a stranger in the mirror, a vile, angry woman on the verge of breaking, she’s so pitifully, disgustingly ugly. God I hate her so much.

I turn the shower on full bore, hot only until the room fills with enough steam to take that vile reflection away from sight before I can begin to realise just who it might actually belong to. I step into the scalding water, take a huge breath in and hold onto it, I want more air but there isn’t any room, I NEED to hold all of the air in all of the world inside me at once, I gape like a possessed goldfish in an effort to capture more and more air until my lungs nearly burst with the fullness, but still it isn’t enough.

My body is quivering with a combination of anxious overwhelm and oxygen deprivation, thoughts of dying circle dizzyingly inside my head as I search for an easy out, anything to get me away from this intensity. I momentarily consider shoving a shampoo bottle down my throat until I choke to death but instead I fall the shower floor sobbing.

Suddenly I find myself masturbating furiously, my head filled with anger and despair, anger at my disobedient children, my controlling husband, my hateful job, my mother, my mental illness, my slutty anorexic teenage self, the boys that abused me, my 3rd grade teacher, the nightmares, the memories, the people who hurt my innocent 6yr old self, my fucking 6yr old self for not having the strength to stand up and fight back! God how I hate her weakness in that moment! God how I want to punish her for it, punish myself for it! GOD I NEED TO BLEED, GOD I HATE MYSELF!!!

I cum violently, an intense angry orgasm, its harder than I’ve ever cum in my life. I collapse on the shower floor as the scalding water rushes over my heaving body and shame floods into my soul. Shame for climaxing from thoughts of pure hatred, memories of my abusers, memories of fear and bitter self-destructive desire. What the hell is wrong with me? I need to die for my sins, die for the sins of others. Die for not being able to protect myself. From the corner of my eye I spy my wayward razor lying behind the shampoo bottle.

I sit up but rather than pull that blade across my wrist, my body suddenly shivers in waves as I feel her take the control back of my body, she places the metaphorical mask back over my face and I feel myself instantly relax, all emotional memories from the past hour fade to black and she begins to gently shave my legs.

Left, up, down. Right, up, down.

After all we have work in an hour, the kids still need a good nutritious breakfast and someone needs to let the chickens out. Life doesn’t pause for breakdowns, neither can we.

Airplanes & Apple Blossoms

The air outside is thick with the scent of wattle and Apple blossom, the icy chill of winter has finally passed and spring is here, well at least for a week or so, Jack Frost always comes back for one last bite before skipping hemispheres for his annual vacation.

The year has flown past so quickly, a  cyclonic blur of busyness, but although the days seem only to pass faster, somehow it still feels like it was an awfully long winter. 

Mentally I am exhausted, frustrated, confused… Can you think of any more words for overwhelmed? 

On a seemingly normal morning while driving to work this week I was abruptly sent into absolute panic as I watched a very low flying QANTAS passenger plane flying incredibly quickly and at an awfully steep and unnatural angle seeming about to crash into the hills below. 

As I drove through the mountains along the highway I lost sight momentarily, my body was shivering uncontrollably as I awaited the inevitable sight to come, plumes of thick black smoke from the debris rising into the air, emergency services flashing blue and red lights as they screeched along the road…

I rounded the corner and prepared myself for the devastating sight that surely lay before me, except as I reached the peak of the hill and looked out at the valley and town stretched out before me there was absolutely nothing there to suggest anything but the vista of a glorious spring morning.

I looked back up, the bright blue sky was clear, the plane was nowhere to be seen. It must have already crashed, there was no way it could have landed at that angle, at that speed! There is an airport in the area but the plane was going the wrong direction.

Cars were still driving along the road normally- had nobody even seen it? It was SO LOW. Surely they saw it! Why wasn’t anyone doing anything? I scoured the area, there were no visible signs of smoke, no startled banked up traffic. I turned on the radio but the local presenters were just making their usual light banter. The closer I got into the town the more confused I was about why nobody seemed bothered by this tragedy and why there was no sign of the crash site. 

Then it dawned on me that perhaps I misjudged the steepness of the decent, perhaps the plane had landed safely after all and I was confused about the direction it was facing or what if it had vanished into thin air like that Malaysian Airlines flight? But the most frightening of all the possibilities and the one I don’t want to believe is, that maybe, just maybe I had imagined the whole thing.

I hate not knowing, not having reasons or explanations for so many things that happen, I don’t know what thoughts are mine, what to believe what to ignore. Life feels like a vivid dream where I’m wandering in and out of lucidity as I try to determine what is real and what isn’t. 

I hate not being sure whether I’m crazy or the whole world is blind. I feel like I’m gas lighting myself, my next appointment with M isn’t until the 24th. 10 days away, nothing really, in the scheme of things – but right now it feels like an eternity; one I can’t possibly reach

Update

Okay, some of you might get a bit lost by this post. This is Suzi and Katie giving you a bit of an update, Kate’s struggling at the moment and not on social media or writing much, she’s okay though, she had a nice day catching up with a friend on Friday, they went to the coast, rode a big old horse called Homer and enjoyed chatting for the whole drive. So we are going to be talking about some dissociation problems that have been happening (as we are feeling them right now). Yes, it will come across as weird if you have not read other posts about this or been in this situation personally. Note to new readers, this is not related to Bipolar Disorder, it is a separate struggle that we are still trying to understand fully ourselves, we have written individually here rather than all together like we sometimes do. those who know the backstory already read on, if you don’t feel free to skip this one.

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Homer
Suzi:

Now Bel has been mostly AWOL for a long time, which has been the best thing for me as I can’t really cope with her among all the dramas happening for us at the moment, but Bel appeared out of nowhere on Friday during a trip to CostCo. We have been to CostCo before, we are not members but we used to buy things there occasionally for work functions when we worked for the government and were on the social club committee. Anyway, Bel hadn’t been around during those visits but we were with Kate’s friend J this was the first time Kate had ever been ‘fronting’ (so to speak) in that store and she isn’t as good at keeping Bel down as we are. So long story shorter, Bel was triggered really badly by the sheer quantity of unfamiliar foodstuffs and the general “OMG how many calories are in this shop?” Eating Disorder mentality and started having an internal meltdown.

This made for an interesting trip with my poor friend J who couldn’t quite grasp why her friend Kate who she’d just been at the coast horse riding with for the day went from excited and chatty to suddenly completely overwhelmed and having a massive anxiety attack in the middle of CostCo. Luckily J is a pretty forgiving sort!

 

Bel if you didn’t know, is the forever 14yrs old rather impulsive, sometimes aggressive part of us with the most serious eating disorder behaviour and associated anxieties – having Bel near you is kind of like experiencing intense intrusive thoughts with their own stream of consciousness and personality that argue back at you. And she was giving Kate absolute hell wanting to physically get out of there. Poor Kate was trying desperately to hold her back because they were waiting on some Pizzas to be cooked to take back home for a birthday celebration. Then Bel noticed a group of police at the registers who were buying some things and she started eyeing off the guns in their holsters wanting to break free from Kate and run over and take them by surprise, essentially with some half baked goal to shoot herself or get shot trying. *sigh*

It was really hard for Kate to manage her, grounding exercises will only get you so far when part of your mind seems hell bent on having a crisis. Luckily the police left quite quickly and then the pizzas were ready so they were able to leave, although Kate had to take a photo of the coffins on the way out for Bel, because, well she’s Bel. And Kate thought it was pretty hilarious that you could buy a coffin to use after you have died from a heart attack after eating the ridiculous quantities of food they sell. Anyway, Bel calmed a bit when they got to the car and faded back enough that they enjoyed the rest of the night. Kate even ate a slice of the pizza (which was the size of her head) as a bit of a ‘screw you’ to Bel. Which is oh-so-mature, and yet apparently still weighing on all of our minds three days later because I’m mentioning it here…

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Katie:

So, the next day, Saturday we went to a dear friends 50th birthday bash and our other wonderful friend E was there too, E is the only person in ‘real life’ who is aware of the full extent of my mental illness and associated issues, including the dissociation. E has known me for over 12 years as a general combo of Suzi and I, and fairly recently she met Kate, as just Kate for the first time. Which was weird for E but she was absolutely awesome about it, Kate loves her as much as I do and is trying to carve her own identity and wanted to say hi properly.

E has been having issues with her 15yr old daughter who has some severe mental health problems that are only getting worse and she has been getting bugger all useful support from the mental health crisis team etc. Now I hadn’t actually seen her daughter (who I will call C) in a couple of years, we tend to catch up away from the children so we can really talk, anyway I knew all about C’s issues which include a level of dissociation (but in a very different expression to ours) but when we saw C again I felt Bel suddenly come up and she was really excited. Bel apparently related to C and wanted to come out and talk to her, she wanted to ask her where she got her nose pierced, if it hurt, she wanted to know how C got her eyeliner like that and if she had told the nurses in the ER the previous night to go fuck themselves (C had been there for another MH crisis- and been sent home) She wanted to ask all sorts of things and yet I absolutely couldn’t let her because, well where do I start….

  1. C would see an adult acting weird, an adult she KNOWS acting weird. She doesn’t know Bel looks 33 but is really only 14.
  2. Bel is FAR from healed, so even if C was able to instantly get her head around the whole ‘Bel’ thing, Bel would probably be a terrible influence on C and her mother is my close friend!
  3. Bel doesn’t understand this, Bel wants what Bel wants and she wants it instantly.

Have you ever tried to keep an extremely determined teenager from what they want? ITS REALLY HARD! And when you are in a crowded party scenario with other adults who know you but don’t know your situation it’s even harder. Its also hard to tell which thoughts are yours and which are hers, when she pushes like that they start blending and you have to try and speak without suddenly becoming her. Its difficult to explain properly but I liken it a little to trying to act like you are not really drunk or stoned in front of your parents…

Between all this Bel wanting to get out and talk to C, her Mum E and I were trying desperately to have a catch up deep and meaningful Adult conversation in the corner, but C kept walking over and in turn, that kept triggering Bel. It was really freaking hard to concentrate and I have absolutely NO IDEA what the best way to handle this sort of situation is, it hasn’t happened quite as intensely this before, certainly not in public. Any helpful ideas from those with similar experiences would be most welcome!

We had to leave the party, but I am going to catch up with E again privately soon, do you guys think I should tell E about this conflict? She knows a little about Bel, but she also knows about Bel’s issues and I wonder if Bel relating to C like that would just be an unnecessary worry to her? I also want E to be able to feel like she can keep talking to me, she really needs me to be a safe person to vent to.

It’s not that Bel would be intentionally malicious, but I definitely feel like she wouldn’t have anything helpful to add to C’s situation and I think we should definitely avoid C until we can understand how to handle Bel better. Should I ask my Psychiatrist M for advice on how to work through that situation if it happens again? Or better yet, prevention? Bel is obviously craving attention from someone she can relate to. I also don’t know how much we have really told M about what is going on with us, I think she knows more than I know for sure she knows because others have said things and I don’t really remember properly (if that makes sense) but if I just ask her what to do without enough background context she’ll wonder what the heck I am talking about. I also don’t know that she would know what to do anyway – she’s a bloody good shrink, but it’s a bit of an odd situation! Okay, I will leave it there for today.

Apologies that we rarely seem to find time to write or visit blogs anymore, thank you to those that have been checking in. Life is overwhelming right now and Kate will definitely try and get back into it properly when she has the time and strength.

Love, Suzi and Katie

Surrounded By Myself

 

I’ve been struggling. 

I’m overwhelmed with responsibilities, frustrated by my inability to fix everything for everyone and disillusioned by the current political climate here in Australia, Hell, the world. But mostly I feel trapped, trapped by the very things I love the most, my parents, my husband, my children, our business. 

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All these things I love and want so badly are standing between me and my desperate innate urge to flee this mortal coil, they force me to face each day out of guilt for fear of causing even more pain and suffering. 

Sometimes I want to be alive, sometimes I love being alive, and as much as I know this feeling of hopelessness won’t last forever, I can’t help but feel freshly devastated every time the dark clouds descend back down upon me. 

I hate not having suicide as an option anymore, I hate feeling like I have been backed into a corner by promises. I regret agreeing to run a business that can’t fail because if it does I destroy the lives of so many people I love. My siblings live far away and ageing parents need me, my children depend on me, my husband needs me. My kids friend needs me because life can be so unfair and she has no one to depend on anymore, she doesn’t deserve to be abandoned. 

I hate that my emotional well is as dry as the drought stricken paddocks. I hate that I can know and appreciate that my life is full of wonderful things and yet I still can’t seem to get my shit together.

Mostly I hate the fear that I will reach an impulsive moment and scream “fuck it, you win!” to these voices that have been running circles around my brain again lately and end up leaving everyone I love to lose their home, lose their stability and struggle through life broken and alone knowing that I abandoned them too. 

I’m trying to be so much more than I am capable of being, I bit off more than I can chew and now I’m choking, gasping for breath under this sea of responsibility wanting to simultaneously do so much more and hide away and do nothing at all. The bitter truth is that now I have no choice but to try and just keep swimming.

Dissociation had been fleeting for a while, or at least I hadn’t noticed, but it’s back. The far awayness of the world which seems to exist inside a tunnel, losing hours of time. It’s affecting my work. I’m forgetting things I need to remember and I’m remembering things I need to forget.

Flashbacks of things I don’t understand, memories of dreams from long ago, the kind you feel in your body more vividly than you see in your mind.

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My eyes give up on collective reality as the pixels of the universe bind together to form shadowy beings, swirling and dancing like a swarm of insects on a clear summer day.

My thoughts are becoming separated again, multiple streams of consciousness run simultaneously as they take it in turns to vie for attention. 

Commentating, narrating, singing or simply chattering about nothing. I beg them to stop to just let me be, but the silence of loneliness always proves to be a deadlier prison. 

Loneliness. An emotion I fiercely denied having to M just weeks ago, yet when I look deeply into my heart I realise in reality while  I’m surrounded by friends, family and the voices in my head. 

I am also completely alone.

xx katie

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.

Charles Heath - Author

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