The Moods of the Sea

There’s something magical about the moods of the sea. Calm waves gently lapping on the shore, bringing forth tiny secrets from the vast depths that lay behind them.

Little shells line the beach marking the edge of yesterday’s tide, once homes to the critters hiding below, they now live their second life on land, perhaps plucked from the sands by a delighted child.

Conversely, the ocean can be violent. Tsunamis and storms, the riptides below. It is both a place of birth and beauty and a place of death and destruction. We humans are drawn to its power. We have tried to understand and conquer it since the dawn of time but it is a force unto its own, a mysteriously relatable universe filled with its own miniature worlds all subject to the unforgiving rules of Mother Nature.

This little beach fort… 💜

Yesterday we visited the ocean, basked in awe at its enormity, breathed it’s salty air into our lungs and stood grateful for the opportunity to witness and contemplate its power, grateful for the opportunity to be a tiny part of this incredible world, with all its complications and sadness, beauty and wonder.

We considered how everything that ever was and ever will be, the good, the bad and the mundane, exists in one way or another right here, right around us, right now. We are all bathing in the infinite existence of everything, where time in its linear form only matters when we allow it the space in our minds and hearts to do so.

That tiny bird scratching for seeds in the car park, the game you played with your children, the business meeting that never seems to end, the heartbreak of losing someone you loved. These moments are all as important as each other, for different reasons and in different ways.

Your emotions, your experiences, they all contributed to who you are right now. In every grounded instance we can choose which thought, feeling or experience we want to hold onto, which we would rather learn to let go of. Even when our memory only allows an experience to exist for a fleeting amount of time, we can feel the power of that moment while we are in it, notice it, notice the emotion we have and sit with it.

Yesterday we visited the ocean, I only had a moment there, a moment for me to sit in its intensity, snap a few pictures and carry on with our day. And while Kate set off to laugh with friends and plod along a muddied track atop the oldest horse in the world, I held onto that moment by the ocean. I clung to it’s fleeting yet precious reminder of how lucky I am to still exist in this world, to feel the joy and the sorrow, for whatever time I have left, in whatever moods, memories and moments present themselves, I am grateful to have experienced life.

– Catherine

Kate, with the oldest horse in the world 💜

All The Kings Horses

All the kings horses and all the kings men, couldn’t put humpty together again”

It’s May 12th again. Now 6 years since the start of the suicide attempt saga that should’ve ended our life, yet here we are. The story of this suicide attempt has been a really hard to tell, mostly because we had so many different perspectives on what happened that night that we have been really confused by it.

When it happened, we didn’t understand “us” yet let alone each others points of view and it’s taken a really long time to figure out what the hell actually happened and even longer to work out how to go about sharing it in a cohesive manner. We eventually settled on a short series that included everyone’s vantage point but was tied up in a pretty little, slightly more digestible bow by The Scribe.

I was originally planning to start sharing the series today, but in the last few weeks life has gotten unexpectedly busy and the more we’ve tried to allow time for writing, the less we seem to have achieved. Unfortunately, The Scribe also can’t just be summoned either, I wish DID worked that way but it doesn’t, at least not for us and she has her own schedule.

This a story that has been very triggering to be a part of writing and one that’s going to be triggering for people to read. For some, really triggering and perhaps it would be better you don’t read it. That’s okay, I won’t mind if you sit it out. It’s just it’s a story that feels impossible to tell without certain details and certain specifics, so from a safety perspective it goes against our intuition (and the do no harm framework) to include them, and yet in fairness to all parts involved, we must.

It’s become clear through this process that we have some unresolved internal conflicts that we need to sort out and I will be trying to work out a way of safely doing this as soon as possible.

So today, rather than pushing our stressed system into re living the past, I am taking a self care day off from all the busyness and going horse riding down the coast with a friend.

Love to everyone, Kate

Apologies

Just a quick apology to my readers, the blog sort of got hijacked there for a minute and I’m really embarrassed by that. I’ve left the post for the minute but I’ll probably take it down later.

To Bel, here, I’m publicly apologising to you too I’m sorry and I understand why you’re upset with me but let’s keep it private now please.

Kate

Wassup

God I get frustrated reading some of the drivel we spew onto this blog and into our journal. I honestly can’t relate to most of it and reading all the ‘poor me’ bullshit makes me roll my eyes and want to beg everyone to shut up.

Nobody cares, particularly me.

But I’m trying to be a nicer person. I’m trying to empathise or at least pretend to care. Sort of. We’re so different, like massively different. I hate that they’re part of me. I’m not saying I hate all of them or anything so don’t get shirty if you like em, I’m just saying I’d rather live my own life without their crap and emotional baggage tainting it. But apparently God didn’t have enough bodies for us so alas I am stuck.

So what have you lot been up to?

I had a look at this book of Kate’s today, good thing she didn’t try and publish it yet, it’s a pile of shit. Sounds like it was written by a nun with a pole up her ass. They’re going to need old Scribe to work a Hell of a lot of magic to turn it into anything actually worth reading.

Anyway, this was open on the phone so I thought I’d write in it too. Wassup people? What do you actually want to hear us babble about? Do you want all the pretty poem shit, all the trauma stories, woe is me cry baby crap, the trials and tribulations of dealing with the aftermath of being knocked up four times or would you rather hear tales like the time we accidentally ended up at a swingers party? Oh now that was a funny night, fark.

Just putting the question out there because I tell them they’re boring as batshit but they keep on the same old thought train. Also I sense I’m about to be blamed for a lot of crap I may or may not have done and so I have nothing to lose.

M, if you’re reading this, you and I are going to talk hun. But you probably won’t like what I have to say and heads up, we aren’t all in need of saving, some of us are quite fine just the way we are.

Life’s a game people, play hard or die trying.

B

Labyrinth of Shame

I say something insignificant and he answers abruptly. The vibe is off, I look at him.
That expression on his face, the sudden weight in the atmosphere instantly fractures my heart and it triggers someone inside, her pain always makes me want to die instantly.

I struggle to contain her and fail, I’ve fallen into her rabbit hole and nothing else matters anymore.

Shame instantly washes over me with such force that I forget how to breathe and I become lost inside it, racking my brains to try and work out what it is I’ve said or done this time to cause distress in someone that I am supposed to love, someone that is supposed to love me.

That look of sheer disappointment, aimed at us, it has rattled our soul in a seemingly impossible to undo way. I know in that moment, from that one single look he gave, that I am unequivocally the worst person that has ever lived and I need to end my life, immediately, before I can cause more harm to others we love.

It sounds ridiculous to feel that way, from a single look, from a vibe – and intellectually I guess I know it is. Without Little One’s influence and with a lot of exasperated commentary from V, I can look at the situation more objectively but when Little One pushes forward I completely lose myself to her emotion. All the self awareness in the world vanishes and I’m at the mercy of her pain.

She lives in it always, this insufferable feeling, I only have to visit.

We let The Husband in, to our world that is, just a little but enough, and so when we disappoint him or hurt him and he looks at us like he’d rather be anywhere else, Little One’s sense of safety melts away into a pool of tears on the floor.

It’s always happened with him. He holds that power over us in a way few others can these days. She doesn’t just love him, Little One, she needs him and she doesn’t seem to know she has the others too, V, Catherine, Kate, they’re stronger than me and with them she too could survive without him.

I don’t want to be bad or mean or disappointing but I somehow often seem to hurt him. It’s never intentional but something I carelessly say or do inevitably causes him to become upset. And when he says he’s fine and ‘there’s nothing wrong’ those eyes burned with sorrow and disappointment won’t meet my gaze, the energy surrounding us tells another tale.

I’d rather he hit us, I’d rather that because if he beat us and yelled at us, if he told us why he was upset then maybe we could change, be better, do better. When he’s giving us the silent treatment and we’re being left to guess or he’s pretending everything is okay when it so obviously isn’t, it’s impossible to fix it.

V commented when I wrote that last paragraph “don’t be stupid and of he hit us I’ll bloody well hit him back!” She doesn’t get it. She doesn’t understand how hard it is for me to cope with the mind games, she’s much stronger than me.

I think if he punished us physically then we would have a boundary to know what we deserve, I would know where we stand and what to expect but instead we’re left to punish ourself for an unspecified crime with an unknown sentence length, how do you do that?

I don’t want to be like this. I hate who I am. I don’t want to hurt him. I don’t want to feel hurt like this either. I’m trapped in a cage of my own creation, my wings are but bloodied stumps from frantic attempts to escape my invisible bars, escape my invisible selves, yet still I am here. Always here. Fractured, lost inside an impossible labyrinth of shame.

– Katie

Footsteps in the Dark

This is my cry for help,
This is my silent scream,
This is my plead for mercy,
I can’t relive this dream.

Hiding in a dark room, afraid of myself.
The prison bars on my windows are invisible to the world.
Crying under the light of a full moon, trying to escape my selves.
The locks on my doors start shouting, “you can’t escape from hell”.

And The televisions bleeding violence
But the people just carry on
I guess nothing ever really matters, to those who feel they did no wrong.

We’ve been privileged by our ignorance
Distracted by our rights
Taken for granted what should shame us
Too scared of change, too scared to fight.

I want to shout my truth out to the people,
As the blame is getting cast.
Patriarchal archaic society, still buries greed of generations past.
Those who pretend that there’s nothing wrong,
Those who’s silence harms us all.
Still they band together,
and let society take the fall.

Yet still my lips stay sewed together,
Because I don’t know how the hell to start.
Inside I’m still a child in a bedroom,
Afraid of the footsteps in the dark.

This is my cry for help,
This is my silent scream,
This is my plead for mercy,
We can’t relive this dream

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What To Expect When You Call Lifeline

As you may or may not know, I have a website attached to this blog, it has various pages about mental health things. Anyway, among it I have a page called What to Expect When You Call Lifeline which has been getting an absurd number of hits lately. I’ve just discovered that it’s apparently ranking quite high on Google search so thought I’d throw it out as a blog post for anyone who might be interested.

Calling Lifeline

In Australia our ‘crisis hotline’ is called Lifeline. It is a well known organisation yet I had always been too scared to bring myself to ring when I was feeling suicidal. I had happily told other people to use the service but when it came to making that call myself, I could never quite bring myself to do it. So, today I found out some more info and made a call to Lifeline myself so I could let you guys know how it all works, keep reading to see what happened.


What does the call cost? Calling 131114 from your landline (house phone) is the cost of a local call, it is free to call from mobile phones in Australia from both pre or post-paid services.


Don’t have access to a phone? Head online instead!  www.lifeline.org.au has some excellent resources to read through as well as web based crisis chat (This is the link to Lifeline’s crisis chat page) – please note that web chat is available only between 7pm and 7am, during the daytime you will need to call them on the 13 11 14 phone number.  


What Constitutes a ‘Crisis’?

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(Quoted from the Lifeline website) “A crisis is a very individual reaction to an event or experience. One person may be extremely affected by an event, while someone else experiencing the same event may experience little or no negative effects.If a crisis is not dealt with in a healthy way, it can lead to longer lasting mental health issues, as well as social and physical problems.” So basically, you do not have to be feeling suicidal to be in a crisis. If an incident happens in the family and you are really upset by it, even if Uncle Fred and Aunt Wilma aren’t bothered by it at all, your feelings do COUNT and ARE valid, everyone is affected by situations differently and talking about them may be very beneficial in helping you process the incident and move forward in a healthy manner. Have a browse of the Lifeline Website for suggestions about what sort of help might help you and/or maybe give them a call  on 13 11 14 to talk it through further.


My Own Experience Calling Lifeline:

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So today I finally phoned lifeline. I wasn’t immediately suicidal, although the feelings have been far more intense recently, I was struggling greatly with feeling like I had an adequate reason to call, but then I thought about you guys out there struggling with the same sort of feelings and realised that if I can make this call now then I can alleviate some of the mystery for myself and I can also share the process and the results with you and take some of that fear away so that you might feel better about making that call. I will admit that it took me about 3 tries to let the call connect me through to a ‘crisis supporter’ because I kept chickening out! My fears before making the call:

  • Embarrassment for feeling the way I did.
  • Fear of being judged as being weak and pathetic with no real problems in my life or right to feel the way I did.
  • Fear of getting in to trouble for wasting their time.
  • Not being ‘suicidal enough’
  • But mostly what stopped me from calling at my most suicidal was paranoia, specifically a fear of suddenly having a team of police cars swarm my property and throw me handcuffed into the back of squad car or an ambulance. I was scared that I would be humiliated in front of my neighbours and because I live in a small town where everybody is all up in everyone else’s business, I catastrophized that making that one small phone call would end in me having to move interstate to save my family the embarrassment of being seen to live with a ‘crazy person’.

Okay, so here’s what happened…*Dial 13 11 14* Recorded message answers immediately saying that if life is in immediate danger please hang up and call ‘000’ followed by a menu with the following options:

  • To speak with a crisis supporter now – press 1 or simply stay on the line
  • To provide feedback about lifeline services – press 3
  • To find out more about our privacy policy and call costs – press 4
  • For information about volunteering – press 5

(For some unknown reason, there is no press 2….)*Press 1* A recorded message played that states that the call is confidential but may be recorded and listened to for quality call training purposes. I was then placed in a queue for about 2 minutes. (I don’t recall the music but it was better than the Centrelink & Telstra ones!) A young lady answered the call, she didn’t ask me for my name or any personal information, simply a friendly sounding ‘how can I help today?’ Firstly I asked if they were super busy at the moment because I didn’t want to disturb them as my question wasn’t life threatening. She said not to worry about that because every caller is valid and what would I like to talk about? I probably made the poor girl think I was a complete whack job (yes, I will phrase it that way) pretty quickly because I was really nervous and kept fumbling my words, she didn’t ask my name which was lucky because chances are I wouldn’t have remembered it anyway. (At this point I was thinking that maybe I should have just written a letter!) I said that I was not feeling suicidal at the moment but I was ringing now because I generally chicken out of ringing when I am feeling suicidal due to paranoia and I wanted to know what their procedure was and what the rules are with them contacting the police etc so that I might be brave enough to ring in the future and also to let some other people in my situation know what to expect too. (I neglected to mention that I was doing a blog post about the subject, I probably should have so she had more context to my haphazard line of questioning, instead I think I just came over as paranoid…) She was a bit reluctant to answer my question directly, I suspect she was trying to gauge if I was actually suicidal or not and had been just trying to tiptoe around the fact. She said in a very calm voice that their main priority is the safety of the caller, I did eventually get out of her that if the caller is feeling suicidal they will always work with them to try and resolve those feelings before contacting the police or similar but if a life is in immediate danger, then they might have to for safety reasons. She asked me what reason I would normally have for feeling suicidal if I was and I explained that there was often no specific reason, I said I am bipolar and if I am depressed the mood can overtake me entirely and a final trigger could be as severe as a death in the family or as simple as dropping a fork really, it just kinda is what it is. She asked me what sort of plans I had made in the past and I accidentally laughed which I think un-nerved her slightly, it wasn’t because I thought it was funny, only because as my regular readers know I have had suicidal ideation for such a large part of my life that I have a preconceived “plan” for pretty much any occasion and that is hard to explain to someone new without them freaking out on me. (I once told my GP who asked that, that I had made three new plans since I had entered her office and my psychiatrist has said that if they locked me up every time I made a suicide plan they’d never let me out again so frankly in my case the question is a bit redundant.) So I just said, it depends on the situation at the time, for me it’s usually impulsive action on a pre thought out plan, sometimes an intricate and detailed plan. I explained that I had once attempted suicide using prescription medication I had smuggled into a psych ward which I had taken and that attempt very nearly worked. She said that must have been very hard for me afterwards and I said nah, not really – I was pretty numb for a long time, I tend to dissociate a fair bit, good for me I guess, much harder on my family, I have a lot of guilt about that. (I guess I should eventually start work on processing all the unresolved feelings I have about that incident because it suddenly made me start crying out of nowhere.) She then asked me again if I was feeling suicidal and I said, “no, no I am not at the moment” (half truth). *Awkward pause* The call was starting to take a direction I was uncomfortable with and I was trying not to cry, she then asked if I had a mental health support team around me and I said that I did once, I still have a psychiatrist but I don’t like to bother her too much and then I (did the fear driven mature thing I do when I don’t want to deal with something anymore and ran away from it) said “thank you very much for all of your information, I will stop tying up your line now and let you go, have a nice day” and I hung up…


The Verdict

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I probably could have handled my own call better, you know made up a list of questions to ask or perhaps sent it in e-mail format, unfortunately as you know, I am rather impulsive at times. Upon perusing the Lifeline website later, I realised that they will talk about all sorts of things not just suicide. Click HERE for the link to their facts and information page which has details about other topics such as domestic violence and loneliness and isolation. If I had read more about the different services they offer BEFORE placing the call, then maybe I could of asked for some tips (pardon the pun) on dealing with my little gambling issue for my first call as it is a less triggering topic that unlikely to burst into tears over but certainly need some practical help in learning how to handle… Will I use Lifeline next time I am feeling suicidal? Hmm… I feel like I should be saying a resounding YES! Because I want to encourage all of you guys to make that call if you need to, with 8 attempts each day in Australia, suicide already claims WAY too many lives, however if I am to be completely honest then I think if it comes to the crunch my fear and paranoia of being embarrassed, stopped or apprehended will probably stop me from picking up that phone. Remember my #1 golden rule: Do As I Say, Not As I do!


Do you have any experiences good or bad calling Lifeline in Australia or ‘The Suicide Hotline’ in your country? If you would like to share them with us, please e-mail me at thecolourofmadness@gmail.com with a link to the blogpost or the story itself and I will add it in below!


Back to resources and info

Many Hats

Tell no one of your story
Tell no one of your woes
Tell no one of your secrets
Tell no one where you go.
I have 100 hats for the 100 people in my head,
the ones I don’t remember and the ones I still regret.
Together we told our stories, walked the walk and placed our bets.
They held me up, I held them down
I fought them off, they tried their best.
What makes us all so different,
when inside we are the same?
What chooses who comes out to play,
when we’re all stuck inside one brain?
If I write you all a memoir,
of the pasts that brought you here,
of battles fought in glory,
and the loves held true and dear.
If I give you each a story,
a chance to tell your side,
will you promise not to haunt me
as I drift alone in changing tides?
100 hats of different shapes,
100 heads of hair,
each of you might’ve known me
but none of you were there.
The day I died wasn’t hollow,
it wasn’t filled up with despair.
I just closed my eyes and thought of you,
and all that we had shared.
Now they gather in the meeting place,
to help finish each others work,
they can move on together now,
their life lessons have been learned

Silent Night

As you set fire to the last bridge between us, with words that burned our wooden soul.
The Ashes of your heart charred black,
I could not stop you, save us, grow old.

How many times can a Phoenix rise?
How many times can we hide away in our mind?
How many times can we brush it all away?
No more now, it ends today.

I wished I could take our whole life back
As I lay myself across those tracks,
My final thoughts, but your final call,
A final act to rue them all.

Blessed be those who stood up tall,
Blessed be those crushed beneath their walls.
While we never can, if we never try,
Sometimes still, it shall pass us by.

With roses strewn across our paths,
Thorns and daggers in our hearts,
We lay to rest a weary fight,
And bid farewell in the silent night.

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Seeds of Hope

Hope can be a dangerous thing, too little and we exist as a husk blowing through the winds of life. Too much and we risk the crushing disappointment of loss, failure or rejection.

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After a lifetime of protectively exiling hope from my thoughts, I lay down one day and closed my eyes. My final hope, the one that had clung for dear life onto the strings of my heart quietly let go and faded into the night, leaving behind it the allure of a forever sleep and a promise of everlasting peace.

There are a hundred stories written of that night, the night we chose to end our life. Each perspective a little different, we’ll share them here one day, but not now. For me the aftermath was a tumultuous Hell. Stripped bare of who I thought I was, I rolled around in a hopeless limbo, neither here nor there, banished in darkness with the others, haunting a shattered self we just couldn’t reach.

We were offered a lifeline from the universe one day, a beacon of Light that fought it’s way into our soul and found us hiding there in the darkness, lost shadows shackled by fear. The Light brought with her a gift, a little seed of hope, and she planted one with a promise.

Promises are made to be broken and yet she returned again and again bringing with her more seeds and slowly scattering them into our abyss. She spent time nurturing them, allowing them to grow until we could begin to trust ourselves to care for them too.

As the seeds bloomed into trees we finally found a will to try, buried under layers of trauma and pain. We dared to start hoping again, a fragile kind of hope, just barely enough to imagine a future, options, perhaps a life no longer held prisoner to a relentless past.

Then Cancer came calling.

The forest within us burned, the charcoal residue of hope crumbled into ashes as the sky became red from smoke and despair. The Light could have given up, she could have walked away but instead she kept shining, brighter than ever. Fighting her way through the smoke this time she brought with her a gentle rain to help put out our fire.

A predictable force in an ever changing landscape, she held our hand through the hardest day and wasted no time planting new seeds to help us grow enough trees to breathe on our own for a while. Months passed surrounded by blue, but in the darkness that had once buried us, a little patch of light remained and as our shadows danced in the moonlight we discovered it was not just a piece of her, but a light of our very own.

To our Light, and you know who you are. We can never thank you enough for being you, for hearing us, guiding us and believing in us when we couldn’t believe in ourselves. It’s been nearly six years since that night we let it all go. While the challenges are still numerous, they are no longer insurmountable and we would not be here today to celebrate the wonder of life with all its ups and downs if it weren’t for your gentle care. Shine on. xx