I’m typing this from my bed. I am supposed to go out in an hour, to pick up Miss 8 from her Nana’s house where she has been staying the past two nights. I want to get up but I am dizzy and nauseous, trying to recover from what did and didn’t and might of happened yesterday.
Hubby and I were supposed to be going on a naughty weekend, or rather a naughty weeknight away over Monday & Tuesday to coincide with a trip my Garden Club was taking to a large open garden in a small town 3hrs away. The plan was a leisurely drive, nice dinner, romantic night at a quaint little B&B catch up with the garden club the next morning for the garden tour and then a nice drive home enjoying the scenery and picking up the kids from the various places we had farmed them out to.
Best laid plans. Mr 11 put his foot through a glass door resulting in stitches that needed to come out while we were away, so the romantic B&B got cancelled and hubby said he would stay home with Mr 11 so that I could at least drive up on the Tuesday and see the Garden since it was one of my bucket list items.
I’ve been feeling pretty crappy lately, physically and emotionally, I have all the symptoms of Peri-menopause, except I am about 10years too early and I am having some trouble working out which of my issues are psychological and which are physical or at least which came first.
I have been nauseous and exhausted to the point of not being able to go on the treadmill. If you have been following my story for any length of time you will be aware that I have been running for an hour every single day for two years, rain, hail or stress fracture. So to be rendered run-less from something as pathetic as being a bit tired, is not normal for me and not something I am coping with very well.
The very last time I ran about 20min in I had an intense pain in my lower abdomen, it was so bad that it felt like a late stage labour contraction that just wouldn’t stop. At one point I even considered calling an ambulance – but for fear of being labelled a hypochondriac and the distance between myself and the phone at that moment, I didn’t. Which I decided was the right decision as the pain did indeed dissipate to tolerable after about 40 minutes as long as I kept lying still and didn’t sit or try and walk. After another hour I had to pick up the kids from the bus and managed to crawl to the car, collect them and tumble back into bed where I slept until morning.
The next day the pain was gone and all was fine again, except for the tiredness but I had to go to the doctor for a new script the next day anyway so I told her what had happened. She did some unpleasant examinations, made me do a pregnancy test even though I was 110% sure that wasn’t the cause and sent me for an ultrasound. Of course, then the school holidays started so I can’t get in to see her. I got a copy of the report back and apparently I had a ruptured Ovarian Cyst and need to get a follow up in 6-8weeks. According to Dr Google that could account for my symptoms, particularly the sudden pain, it should now resolve on its own and apparently many women do go to emergency when that happens – that knowledge made me feel a little less like a total wuss at least.
The trouble is the fatigue hasn’t left me, nor the nausea and the depression is escalating – which brings me back to yesterday.
So, I woke up feeling fucking awful, in terms of depression anyway. I honestly felt more hopeless and suicidal than I have in a very long time and the biggest part of me wanted to cancel my plans to head up to the garden and just stay home and write or sleep.
But I also know that sometimes forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to can be the key to feeling better, at least for a while. So, feeling rather surreal and odd I got up, fed the animals, filled my travel mug with coffee and went to walk out the door, at that moment I spotted my magic 8 ball sitting on the table and I picked it up and quickly shook it asking, “will I die today?” this was it’s answer:
I left the house wondering if it was for the last time, as I drove the 3 hour journey with my most depressing music playing, yes I know I that probably makes matters worse but I couldn’t handle anything else so I sang along with tears leaving mascara stains on my cheeks as I played chicken with the log trucks passing down the other side of the narrow country road.
Normally I try to distract myself, to box my feelings away but my therapist has been encouraging me to feel the feelings so this time I let myself cry thinking that maybe that is exactly what I needed and at least that would hopefully get most of it out of my system before I met up with the garden club.
It was a really long windy road, I get motion sickness, but normally when I am the one driving its fine. Perhaps this time it was more emotion sickness but either way I spent the last hour trying desperately not to throw up and being very aware of the lack of any plastic bag or vomit catching receptacle in my car. The car-nausea triggered flash backs of a past suicide attempt involving attempting to drive while projectile vomiting from an overdose and that image coupled with my current state of mind was utterly overwhelming.
Every big tree, big truck or steep hill side now felt like an opportunity, I just didn’t want to do it anymore. How could I make it look an accident?
As I rounded the next bend I caught up to a familiar looking car, it was one of the other garden club members. Crap. I couldn’t turn off now, my car is fairly distinctive and they would have recognised it and called to check on me if I suddenly disappeared. There was about half an hour of the journey left so I focused on breathing, singing along to my music and thinking of excuses to explain away my red eyes. I really did want to see this amazing garden.
When we eventually pulled into the parking lot I pushed the last of my emotions down and donned my hat and sunnies putting on a happy “yay we are finally here” face, one of the ladies who reads people a little too well for my liking asked me if I was okay straight away, luckily that question didn’t immediately set off the waterworks as it so often does when I am in that state, so I played the ‘car sick’ card and had a coffee as we waited for the rest of the gang to arrive.
The garden was great, I got on top of my crazy and was feeling a heap better then we decided to head into the local town to have lunch at the pub. We played follow the leader there and as we entered the main street that final straw landed on my back, the whole street had reverse 45degree angle parking. That’s not an issue to the rest of the world but unfortunately when I got my licence I was 9months pregnant and couldn’t physically turn around properly so my driving instructor let that lesson slide – 15 years later and I never did get around to learning, frankly it hadn’t come up that entire time. At first it was funny as hell, I was laughing to myself as I passed everyone else neatly parking and even tweeted that I knew it would come and bite me on the ass one day.
I decided I would just go a couple of streets up park in a normal spot and walk down, but life had other ideas, there were no normal spots, EVERY SINGLE STREET IN THE WHOLE FUCKING TOWN was reverse angle. I went to a spot where there was nobody watching and gave it a few goes but no dice. Then I pulled over to the side of the road laughing until laughing finally gave way to crying. Such a simple fucking thing and I couldn’t do it, it felt like a metaphor for my life. I rang my hubby with the intention of finding out if he had any tips and ended up in heaving sobs instead while he tried to comfort me.
Even if I could figure out how to park my stupid car it was too late now, I couldn’t face everyone looking like a blithering mess so I started heading home instead sobbing like someone had died, in a way I felt like someone had, and that someone was me.
I ignored the repeated missed calls from the other garden clubbers inquiring to my whereabouts, after I gained enough composure to pull off the road without also taking out a gum tree, I sent a text reply saying I was feeling quite unwell again and perhaps it was a tummy bug so decided to head home.
Back on the windy road my excuse was fast becoming fact, I started feeling nauseous as hell, my head ached from crying so hard and I still didn’t have a vomit receptacle. Soon the dizziness took over and I was driving through tunnel vision, I should have pulled over but I was too scared someone I knew would catch me up, I probably would have been safer on the road with a bottle of tequila under my belt. I decided I just needed to make it to the small city 40km away from my town and grab something quick to eat. I needed to buy cat food anyway and I hadn’t eaten all day so maybe my blood sugar was low or something.
I made it to the city, parked outside the little shopping centre, turned off the car and lay on the steering wheel for around 20 minutes trying not to pass out. I managed to get out of the car and stumble into the supermarket, I felt like I was in a bad dream, I just grabbed the first bag of cat food I saw and a bag of pears that was at the front and somehow made it back to the car.
I ate half of a pear put my head back on the steering wheel and waited around half an hour before driving off again, I just needed to get home.
When I did get home I stumbled into bed followed by my concerned looking husband, “sick” was the only explanation I could offer before dissolving into delirium. At one point I felt him lay down next to me and then he took a big breath and asked slowly, “…did…did you take something?”
Right then it hit me what this must have looked like to him and I felt so guilty. I replied “No. But that’s what it feels like” and he paused for a minute a he decided to trust me and sighed in a relieved kind of way before leaving the room to let me sleep. I’m glad I couldn’t see his face at that moment, I didn’t want to witness that hurt in his eyes again.
I slept until morning. Now here I am, feeling a bit better after writing it all out. The nausea is improving but the dizziness and difficulty getting air in won’t go away even with my asthma puffer. I feel exactly as I did after overdosing those first few times and now I have started to question myself. What if I had actually taken something yesterday and simply forgotten about it? I have been losing time again lately, just little bits here and there but enough to concern me. God knows how much I wanted to die. I don’t like not being able to trust myself, not knowing what I have done. I didn’t think anxiety could cripple me like this and it’s frightening.
I don’t want to keep hurting my family.
*update* Managed to retrieve my daughter, still feeling off and dizzy and unable to walk around for long. E-mailed my wonderful psychiatrist & she is going to see me on Monday.
This is my latest article over at The Mighty, I hadn’t shared it here before but as you may gather from the title, it’s a letter I wrote to my wonderful husband apologising for my 2015 suicide attempt.
He has never actually read the letter, for some reason it feels easier to share my thoughts and feelings with the world than to tell him directly. Perhaps it is because lately I have had those familiar thoughts come back to me with more darkness and intensity and I want to protect him from that, or perhaps I just want to protect myself. Seeing that look of hurt in his eyes destroys me inside and I don’t think I can handle that right now.
Part of me trying to force myself to be happy at the moment is distracting myself even when I can’t really be bothered. A friend had a baby shower that I had to drive into Canberra for on Saturday afternoon anyway and since Canberra is also currently hosting the annual flower show spectacular “Floriade” I thought I could go in early and have a look around and wander through the daffodils. It’s something I went to as a kid and I have fond memories of (even though I nearly drowned their once when I fell in the lake while showing off to my friend.)
Hubby was working and had Mr15 & Mr13 helping him out to earn holiday pocket money, Mr11 was at a friends house. None of them were remotely interested in seeing a bunch of flowers en masse, anyway, but since I hadn’t been in so many years I decided I might as well make a day of it and drag Miss 8 along with me for the ride. She wasn’t overly keen on seeing a bunch of flowers but she was super excited at the chance to spend the day out of the house and without her brothers.
We drove into the city, spent approx. 3 months looking for parking and waited 45minutes for a very overloaded double decker bus to take us to the flower show, Miss 8 was starting to look very skeptical about the whole thing. It was already an unseasonably warm 30 degrees at 10am and we were packed into the bus like sardines with poor Miss 8 forced to sit on my lap, we were overdressed and I’d also forgotten to bring hats & sunscreen so we were very glad to finally burst out of the stifling bus and into the fresh air.
First stop was the giant Ferris wheel where we got mild nausea and a great view of the city. It was cool to see the funky patterns that the flowers were planted in, which you didn’t really notice so much looking from the ground.
There were little food shops and market stalls set up everywhere actual flower part was much smaller than I remembered it from my childhood but that was probably good as Miss 8 could care less about flowers and her little legs tired out quickly. We had the obligatory $5 streets ice-cream as we wandered around the market stalls and were even able to pat a cute little baby crocodile at the reptile exhibit before we had to head back to the bus stop so that I could get to the baby shower at 2pm.
The bus was due at 12.30 and by 12.55 it became apparent it wasn’t going to come anytime soon, so we hightailed it back into the city on foot. It was only about 3km but to an already tired, hungry and hot 8yr old that is 3km too far and by the time we made it back to the car she was red faced and on the verge of tears. I appeased my guilt about dragging her hat-less and sun cream-less in 30 degree weather by buying her an oh so nutritious drive through cheeseburger Happy Meal before depositing her at Hubby’s workshop and just making it to the baby shower on time. I even remembered to bring the present!
Later on I asked her if she’d had fun and she said “Yes! Remember the Ferris Wheel? And how I got to pat the crocodile?” thankfully she’s a glass is half full kind of person so the being forced to walk 3km in the heat was already long forgotten amidst the joy of her ‘getting stuff’ and ‘the boys missing out.’
It’s the start of the spring school holidays here, and depression seems to be trying to descend upon me which feels ridiculously inappropriate because its finally warming up, trees are growing leaves and there are blossoms everywhere. This means I should be happy now, doesn’t it? But the black cloud is thickening and I am trying to fake it till I make it, resisting the urge to just lie in bed binge watch seasons of “Love Child”.
Mr 11 seems to of inherited his temper from his mother, which is unfortunate for him and very unfortunate for our glass sliding door. In a momentary fit of rage on Sunday night he kicked the old plate glass sliding door shattering it and sending shards of glass into his bare toes.
The emergency room visit triggered the hell out of me, I hadn’t considered the fact that that might happen when we decided who would take him to the hospital, I was preoccupied with my bleeding child and just drove there. But as I carried him through the doors into the waiting area it suddenly hit me, the white walls, the smell of antiseptic. The last time I was there was back in 2015 when I was forced to declare, out loud, that I could no longer stand being alive and needed to be locked up for my own safety and I almost never came home again.
We were sent into the triage office, the same triage office where I had previously been rendered mute with anxiety and fear of judgement, where I had looked around furiously for anything I could use to end my life right then and there rather than face the torment of being hospitalised for my own safety, forced to live against my will. I stepped into the little office, took a deep breath as the sensations and memory flooded over me and tried desperately to push them down, back into their box in the back of my mind, to become a problem for a different day.
I managed to explain the situation at hand and the smiling nurse quickly ushered us to the only available bed, the bed, of course, was the same one I had been placed into that day two years ago, the one that is in a separate room with a lockable door, a video camera in the ceiling and nothing you could use to hurt yourself. Every hair on my body was raised as I tried to force closed and lock that little box in the back of my mind as I felt myself disassociate slightly, now wasn’t the time.
I brought myself back to the present using the ‘5 things’ technique and concentrated on talking to Mr11 and trying to get his mind off the situation. He chose that moment to suddenly notice my semi-colon tattoo for the first time and ask it’s meaning. I have had it since April and it’s not exactly hidden, I swear my kids are so unobservant. I deflected and said I’d explain it later, I couldn’t cope with talking about it in that setting at that moment.
Mr 11 got 3 lots of painful local anaesthetic injections as shards of glass were removed and 6 stitches were put into the awkward underside of one of his little toes, it must have hurt like hell, but he was very brave. He has always been a stoic child even as a two yr old I remember him walking up to me calmly saying “Can you take this out? It hurts a bit” pointing to a pulsating bee stinger stuck in his finger. Miss 8 on the other hand screams blue murder over a slight bump.
When I was signing the paper work to leave Mr 11 asked me how much this visit had cost and I was thankful to be able to answer $0. I told him how lucky we are to live in Australia and that in America the government doesn’t pay. He nodded, then said “but in America, if they don’t pay for healthcare, doesn’t that mean all the people who are sick can’t work? If they can’t work, then they aren’t paying taxes and they are getting money from the government for being too sick to work? Wouldn’t that end up costing even more money eventually?”
If he is 11 years old and he can figure that out, I sure hope that one day the American government can eventually come to the same conclusion.
He is now learning the pitfalls of trying to get around on a pair of crutches and a valuable lesson about kicking inanimate objects but it’s a shitty start to the school holidays for a kid that likes to build forts and play outside. I managed to face my fear a little and put my anxieties back in their box so I could be there for him when he needed me, so I guess that we were both kicking down doors that day. Now that I know I still have some unresolved feelings about being at the hospital, I can start to work through them with my therapist along with some healthy coping strategies.
How do you cope with flashbacks?
Do you kick things when you’re angry?
I keep having chance encounters with strangers that deeply affect me and they are always straight after my psychology appointments, I’m trying not to involve ‘magical thinking’ as my Psychiatrist calls it, into these coincidences but honestly, it is getting ridiculous.
Just after my previous appointment I went into the supermarket to grab a few things and the young checkout lady mentioned her history of anorexia to the lady in front of me, when it was my turn I told her I understood and I had been there and still kind of am there, this spurred a random deep & meaningful conversation about the shitfulness of eating disorders. Turns out she even lives near me and she gave me her name to find her on Facebook later.
When I went to pick up a book at the library the other day after my appointment, I overheard a very strange talk going on in a room up the back. People were asking questions that I couldn’t make out but I could hear the speaker’s answers such as “we weigh the organs”, “people object for religious reasons”, “dental records” and “only if we suspect foul play”. Curiosity got the better of me and I walked up to the room to listen in, I asked the librarian hovering by the door what on earth this was and she told me it was an Author talk by John Merrick about his new memoir “True Stories from the Morgue” and invited me to listen.
You can’t just walk away from a talk like that, well I cant, so I found a place to sit up the back of the full room. John was an excellent speaker, engaging and clear plus the subject matter was appealing to my morbid curiosity. Homicides, accidents, natural causes he had seen it all, but then he started discussing suicide, in great detail.
My heart skipped a beat for a minute as he described dealing with families who had lost people through suicide, parents, teenagers, children. Ever since my attempt I struggle to hear about parents committing suicide without crying, it fills me with guilt. John explained that the highest demographic to commit suicide was actually men in their 80s, I didn’t know that, but it makes sense.
I rubbed my finger along the semi-colon tattoo on my wrist as he spoke of things I didn’t want to hear, such as the trauma of telling the loved ones of suicide victims that their father/mother/brother/aunt would need to have an autopsy to rule out foul play. I thought about how I shudder at the thought of ever being autopsied and yet I also want to be an organ donor and how these two things contradict each other.
He said that in the modern age, many young people have taken to videoing themselves committing suicide with their phones and that their brothers and sisters are often the ones to find it being more technologically able than their parents. I thought about how awful that was but how it could prevent the need for an autopsy in frighteningly equal measure.
The audience asked so many questions, some questions were stigmatised opinions from media, there were comments on the selfishness of people that kill themselves and there were some that were thoughtful and kind, the understanding of loved ones and people who had been there. I liked the fact that he had started a conversation that is usually whispered, and I liked that a bunch of strangers were talking about suicide openly, all agreeing that more needs to be done to prevent it.
One part I’m struggling with weeks later is that he also mentioned some of the most effective ways people killed themselves, I tried not to put those in my memory bank for later, just in case, but some things can’t be un-heard and I learned things I probably shouldn’t have. Things that I have thought of daily since (JP- I didn’t specify for a reason).
John said that he was going to commit suicide himself once, many years ago, but had been on call at the time and received a call to come into work on his way to do it and he went to work instead. He maintains that that one call saved his life.
After the talk was over I went up to him and thanked him for such an interesting talk, I told him it I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t triggering but it was a fascinating thing to stumble upon at random and I now looked forward to reading his book.
Really, I wanted to talk to John more about himself. I wanted to ask him a million questions about how he did that job while being suicidal and how the constant exposure to death had affected him, or numbed him. But it wasn’t the time or the place so I asked him instead how long he had taken to write the book and if his publisher was any good. He answered and laughed asking if I was a writer too, I said yes.
It was the first time I had actually said that out loud to a stranger, defined myself as a writer. But I suppose I am now, an unpaid one certainly, but writing has become the thing that I do, the thing that I love. John asked me the name of my book and I stuttered, “The Colour of Madness, but it’s not published yet” he said he’d look out for it, while I know he won’t, the sentiment was nice.
I drove home completely forgetting the book I originally went in for, I was emotionally confused I suppose. On one hand I was inspired to actually, finally publish my book, but I was badly triggered by the new knowledge I now possessed but could never forget and saddened by the thought that one day someone like John might be well explaining to my family why I would need an autopsy.
In Australia at the moment we are in the middle of a postal vote, where as a country we get to decide whether or not same sex couples are allowed to get married.
Frankly the whole thing is a bullshit debarkle by the liberal government which is costing tax payers $122 MILLION dollars that could be better spent on pretty much anything else. This post is a rant and a vent rather than a carefully worded logical argument because I am tired and annoyed and I believe with my whole heart and my mind that marriage should be strictly reserved for two people who decide that they want to get married and everyone else can butt the hell out.
As a person who is straight and married, I didn’t have to get millions of total strangers to decide whether or not I ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be allowed to marry the person I was in love with. Despite the fact that I was a non-religious 18year old and 4 months pregnant with my second child I was allowed to legally marry my husband, we signed a form waited 30 days and got hitched. No questions asked. It was nobody elses business!
I hate this vote because it shouldn’t have to happen, it’s 2017; we are supposed to be equal! It should not be up to anyone other than the couple wanting to marry to make decisions that impact their personal lives in this way. Centrelink and the tax department have no problems with same sex couples having the same rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to merging finances, so why can’t same sex couples declare their love for each other and get a nationally recognised marriage certificate like heterosexual couples? The government doesn’t seem to mind when it serves their purpose.
One person I know was arguing that “those people” shouldn’t marry because “the sexual act of anal intercourse is against the word of God.” This gave me the shits for so many reasons but rather than say something I may later regret to a person I will unfortunately have to interact civilly with in the future I am voicing my opinions here.
What I could have said was if that’s honestly your best argument then just shut up mate because men and women have anal sex all the time and you don’t seem to mind them getting hitched.
If you don’t like the idea of same sex relationships, don’t have a relationship with someone of the same sex. It’s pretty straightforward. How would you feel if someone decided that they didn’t like the fact that you give/receive blow jobs and decided there for you can’t get married? Blow job’s aren’t “natural”. You’d be pretty upset, your sex life and choice to marry is none of their God damn business!
NOBODY else’s sex life is ANYBODY else’s business regardless of gender. What you choose to do in the bedroom is private and this is your chance to vote YES for marriage equality which is unrelated to people’s private bedroom time.
So far, the dumbest argument I have heard from the ‘no’ camp was “But if we allow Same Sex Marriage people won’t be able to procreate and the human race will die out” Yes, somebody actually said that. *Face palm* Newsflash: not allowing people of the same sex who are in love to marry is not going to stop them from being gay, allowing same sex marriage is not going to suddenly turn the whole world gay. Besides same sex couples can (and do) have children, so that argument is just…*sigh*… oh why am I even bothering.
The saddest thing here is that lifeline is currently being inundated with calls from the LBGQ community who are under enormous stress from having their private lives shoved so rudely into the spotlight and publicly judged for being who they naturally are, this includes children.
That should not be happening.
Look everyone has the right to an opinion, freedom of speech and all that (providing it’s not hateful), it’s what makes this country great, but if you are leaning towards ‘No’ then think about what you are actually voting against and if the answer is anything other than honestly believing two people of the same gender that already have the same rights to a private sex life, rights to have kids and financial responsibilities as two people of different genders shouldn’t be allowed to have an official marriage then you should actually be voting yes.
I can honestly say that when I put my vote into the letter box it was the first time since I turned 18 that I actually WANTED to vote, the first time I felt like I was genuinely voting for something that matters.
While this vote should never have had to happen in the first place, now that it is happening, for goodness sake Australia, do the right thing.
Vote for people, vote for freedom and vote for equality. Vote YES.
I was listening to the lovely Jamoalki’s latest podcast about his reactions and lack of reactions to the deaths of friends and family members and it got me thinking about my own tendency to not cry when someone passes away. Quick trigger warning here, death and suicide is discussed in detail.
Both my grandfathers died before I was born, one Grandmother after a long battle with Alzheimer’s lived in England and died when I was about 8, I had only met her once and while I was sad for my mother’s loss I didn’t have a connection with her and so I didn’t cry. My other grandmother died about 5 years ago at age 93, I am ashamed to say I remember the date as it was my son’s birthday but I don’t remember the year. We had been close once, but I felt nothing when she died.
There have been four people from my Garden Club pass away from cancer over the last 5 years, I have a plant in my garden in memory of each of them, but I didn’t cry. My psychiatrist says that my lack of tears doesn’t mean I am heartless, but I have spent such a lot of my life suicidal and believing that death is the better offer that I have desensitized to it in a way.
I have only been to three funerals, all friends that were under 45 – and I did cry at each of those, the atmosphere gets to me more than the actual loss does, the sadness of the mourners can be all encompassing.
One was my school friend Ben at just age 22 who died in a car accident, another was a local man I didn’t know very well really but I knew his wife, the whole town came to the funeral, the tiny church overflowed onto the grounds, it was sad to feel so much grief around me, particularly as I was deeply suicidal at the time and wished so much that I could have taken his place.
The last funeral I attended was that of a colleague when I was also deeply depressed and suicidal – I had written about it’s effect on me at the time and how close I came to suicide afterwards and have included that post below:
The Purple Coffin:
“She was one of those people with more personality than she knew what to do with. She stood up for the world and was passionate about everything, a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend she was many things to many people but to me she was a colleague. Her fiery sense of standing up for people’s perceived rights could be downright scary at times depending on which side of the argument you were standing. I won’t forget the blaze in her eyes as she would snarl “just try it! Her passion it seems, was born from her own inner demons, described as somewhat formidable at times.
While we had talked at work often, I think I learned more about her that day in the room full of mourners, those that had loved her than I would ever have been privy to otherwise. she was also a nurturer, a care giver, gardener and breeder of Pomeranians – I own one & didn’t even know that about her, we could have talked about it, bonded more perhaps. Would it have changed anything?
Her bright purple coffin adorned with the most brilliant display of flowers carefully collected from her own garden. I was somewhat saddened that we had so much more in common than I had realised and I wondered for the conversations that might have been had time permitted.
While the taste of salt trickled onto my lips, the feeling I had in my heart was not so much one of sadness for the loss of a friend, but of my own guilt. My outlook on what so many were calling a wasted life tainted by my own experiences and feelings, it is hard to admit that I was glad for her in that moment, glad that she had found the peace she needed at that time, the peace I secretly crave so deeply. I was envious.
Two of her four children, the same age as two of mine – their faces. The way her eldest daughter spoke with guilt wishing she had said and done more, or less – never imagining that once her mother had been admitted to the mental health unit that she would never see her again, not have the chance to take back harsh words and tell her she loved her.
That was hard to hear.
I took a deep breath and with a final look at that bright purple coffin I whispered goodbye. As I drove home my mood was rather surreal. The looks on those little faces, the same ones I would likely be causing on my own kids someday. It hurt so bad. For them so many more questions than answers.
The hardest part about this for me is it hasn’t changed how I feel in the way it seems it probably should. I was supposed to look at this as a realisation that I need to stay well for my kids, to TRY and want to stay well. But it didn’t work, I understand the intellectual concept and I feel as guilty as hell that I don’t FEEL it but I can’t help my own need for peace.
A few days later with these added guilty thoughts and pit of depression I had already sunk into before the funeral, I had an internal anxiety attack during work and literally ran out the door chased by a team leader who knew about my issues asking what was wrong, I told her “nothing” as tears stung my eyes, “I just have to go”.
I drove about 40km out of the city to a spot I had always regarded as a possible final resting place. A beautiful waterfall that tumbles down a sheer cliff face. I cut through the bush track to avoid the safety rail look-out area and instead climbed down the rocky stream to the edge of the cliff. I sat there with a bottle of water and a bottle of pills in my hand and my legs dangling off the edge, waves of numbness and simultaneous peace flowing through my body.
The sun was warm on my skin as I lay back absorbing the rays on my face for a while feeling very close to nature. My iPod on the ‘D’ playlist. ‘D’ for death. I had no paper to write a note. Oh well, best laid plans and all of that, someone would eventually go through my computer and find my heavily pass-coded ramblings.
As I thought about how I would position myself so that I would likely roll off the edge once the pills had taken affect a nagging little voice inside my mind kept saying “this isn’t fair on Cara”, not my husband, not my kids but Cara, my team leader who’s final words to me had been ‘are you sure there is nothing I can do?” with a look of startled concern in her eyes and a slight wobble in her voice. I had told her ‘no, but thanks..’ before I walked away without looking back.
Our team had already lost one of our own to suicide in the last week, and as I lay back in the sun tears stinging in the corners of my eyes I felt like I couldn’t do that to Cara- she would blame herself for not acting on her instinct, she’s only young and she doesn’t need that, it’s too selfish.
At that moment I heard voices from up the track. Shit! People were coming down to the look out. I shoved the pills back in my pocket and bolted up the flat rocks and back into the crevices of the boulders on the side. Getting caught on a cliff face with pills in your hand probably lands you locked up somewhere I don’t want to go.
I jumped back over the railing, walked up the track nodding a polite hello to the group of people coming down the other way. They didn’t know how different their day would have turned out if they had arrived at the secluded lookout just half an hour later. I got back to my car and drove the long way back through the city and home to my family like nothing had ever happened.”
What I didn’t know at the time of writing this post was that my friends idea of committing suicide while in a mental health facility would ultimately trigger me to do the same thing.
I think about her often now, I wonder if she had of lived through that experience the same way I did if she would no longer be suicidal, if it would have ultimately changed things or if it would have just put off the inevitable.
How do you feel about or cope with different kinds of death?
A huge part of adulthood and one of the key things we look forward to as children is the chance to make our own choices. One of the first words we say is “No!” and I learned early on as a mother that if you wanted your toddler to wear pants don’t ask them to put on pants, ask them if they want to wear the green ones or the blue ones.
The small decisions we make as kids prepare us for the more important ones we have to make as we grow older. Choice gives us a sense of control in a crazy world. What teenager hasn’t gotten frustrated with their parents for saying ‘no’ when they are making what they believe is a good choice?
The word “No” is usually met by all the traditional stages of grief from denial to bargaining while the final acceptance stage may look more like your frustrated teenager daughter screaming “UGH You are the WORST mother in the world!” And the sound of a door slamming as she stomps up the corridor to her bedroom.
You see, to the teenage mind not yet familiar with the intricacies of adulting, the word ‘no’ is a simple choice, a choice to let your child be happy or have “the worst day in their entire life OMG”. Where as to the parent “No” is a layered answer based of carefully weighed up pro’s and con’s factoring in other family members, safety, time frame, logistics and potential future consequences.
Okay, I admit occasionally parents do say no without a really good ‘genuine’ reason – in my case this is often related to laziness. A “no” to “Can I go to Billy’s house for a sleep over?” is possibly because Billy lives 40 minutes away and I don’t feel like getting dressed and driving rather than because I am concerned that Billy’s parents are secretly smoking crack.
But sometimes there are genuine concerns for safety, take my son Mr 13, who is more honest than most teenagers because well frankly he has never really mastered the art of lying. I am particularly thankful for that given the company he has a habit of keeping. He will tell me how his best friend ever is taking drugs and getting beaten by his alcoholic father and then in the next breath he will ask if he can go over there for a sleep over tomorrow. Um… yeah, no.
In situations like this I have to be ultra-careful to use an unrelated excuse for why he can’t stay there this weekend and then wait a few days to have the appropriate “safety” talk, this way he doesn’t connect that the fact he was honest with me has actually caused the “no”.
Mr 11 and Mr 15 on the other hand are far more versed in the subject of lying or at the very least omitting facts they feel might influence my decisions. In their cases, there is far more detective work involved but they are also more self-confident than Mr 13 and less likely to bow to peer pressure. Mr 11 has been very confident about his own decision making since birth. The best way of finding out if they are up to no good is quizzing Mr 13 about it!
So sometimes, okay most of the time, being a mother makes me feel like a total hypocrite. I made a lot of bad choices as a teenager – a bad teenage choice is how I became a mother in the first place! I’m just bloody lucky that things have turned out alright for me on the whole but I still find myself making bad choices, particularly with my health.
Having mental health issues and being suicidal most of my life meant that things like going to the dentist or having a pap smear were simply not done because, well they are unpleasant and frankly you aren’t all that concerned about long term consequences when you feel the chances are that you won’t be around to suffer them anyway.
Even at the best of times depression can turn choices like whether to wear the red jumper or the blue one feel like life and death decisions that we simply haven’t got the authority to make. My parents both have serious issues with decision making, Mum always has and Dads Alzheimer’s has affected his skills in that department, so something as simple as choosing where to go for coffee when I’m also depressed can take forever.
I also have a tendency to decide when to listen to my doctors based on my wants at the time, if medication is suggested when I am depressed then I’m all for it because I want to feel better, but if its suggested when I am euphorically manic and need to come down then I’m going to take a lot more convincing.
When I’m hypomanic and teetering on the edges of mania is probably when my decision skills are at their poorest, back to the teenage ‘have fun now and to hell with the consequences’ mentality I am more likely to take drugs (other than those prescribed), spend ridiculous amounts of money, stay up all night for days, swear inappropriately, act impulsively, drive dangerously, get into arguments, ditch my self -care routines and generally misbehave.
I caught up with an old friend the other day, she has been diagnosed with Bipolar in the last 12 months but in hindsight has had it for decades, we were discussing that pivotal point in hypomania when you still have the insight to know you need intervention even though you are having fun and how hard it can be to make that right decision to go to the doctor.
Ultimately life is full of decisions, sometimes we are going to make the wrong ones but recognizing and learning from them is what will help us grow, and if all else fails I do have a magic 8 ball.
Do you have trouble with decisions?
Cooking. Most people either passionately love it or passionately hate it, but unless we are squillionaires with personal chef’s out the wazoo or unlimited take away budgets then at some point we will get sick of raman noodles and jam sandwiches and simply have to learn how to cook with actual food in order to survive.
I remember my food tech teacher in high school telling us to keep our recipe books at the end of year 9 as ‘statistically at least one of you will leave home in the next two years and you just might need them”. “Ha!” I thought as I threw mine ceremoniously into the bin and “Damn!” I thought when I left home 12 months later.
You can probably guess from the negative energy surrounding that paragraph that I don’t exactly fall into the Martha Stuartesque passionate wannabe chef category.
Generally if we meet someone special then we like to pretend that we know our way around a kitchen at least a little bit, alas hubby was a flatmate before he was a boyfriend so he knew my passionate distaste for the culinary arts long before I could fool him. In fact when we were renovating our old house, my beloved (who is a Joiner by trade) suggested rather than building me a new kitchen he should simply give me a giant phone so that I could order take away. Pah!
Sadly the take-away option was itself taken away from me when we decided to move out to a one pub town in the bush an hours drive from anything resembling fast food. That’s not entirely fair, we do have a servo that doubles as a shop (and a post office… and a mechanic workshop) if you want to pay $5 for a soggy reheated pie or sausage roll (+70c for sauce).
The food at the old pub is ok, but it’s gold plated and dine in option only, but since the publicans aren’t big on kids and I have four of them we eat there about once every 5 years.
If like some of my friends you have a partner who simply loves whipping up ‘cordon bleu’, ‘beef bourguignon’ or some other fancy foreign sounding delicacy for you every night or hell, even once a week then fuck you! put a ring on it immediately!
In my household despite my misgivings I am sadly still the cook, unfortunately when I procreated the law obliged me to feed my spawn more nutritious meals than I was used to making and I wasn’t happy about it. I think the main issue is that I completely suck at it, like burn water suck at it. You know that joke that says you know dinner’s ready because the smoke alarm goes off? Well I eventually had to pull the smoke alarms right out of my ceiling. Another dinner, another kitchen fire…
When you are forced to do something you suck at every. Single. Day. And simply don’t get any better at it, well it’s not exactly a recipe (pardon the pun) for happiness. In fact my lack of enthusiasm rivals that of Lunch Lady Doris from the Simpsons but with less cigarette ash to add the flavour that my dishes are apparently severely lacking.
You see, in my defence, I don’t eat 99% of what I cook for the family due to that pesky eating disorder of mine so I don’t really know how much salt/pepper/turmeric/eye of newt I need to add to make it less “tomatoey” or give it some “zhang” and the stuff I am willing to sample myself is usually flatly refused by my offspring.
Anything that could contain a vegetable or a derivative of a vegetable gets scrutinized within an inch of its life by Miss 8 (she can’t find her shoes but will spot a 1mm piece of onion in anything!) Mr 15 hates spicy stuff, Mr 14 hates textures (like all of them) and Mr 11 HATES mushrooms and accuses me of putting them in everything!
But aside from the constant complaints and mushroom paranoia, the thing that irks me the most – and prompted the writing of this post/rant today is that my beloved Hubby is ONLY EVER LATE HOME on days when I have actually pulled my finger out and created something more culinarily delightful than pouring a jar over some frozen vegetables and half cooked pasta.
This means that on the odd occasion I finally do dish up perfectly cooked steak with smooth ‘Diane’ sauce and fresh vegetables steamed ‘just right’, by the time he comes home and has re-heated it in the microwave he gets rubbery steak, lumpy sauce and soggy broccolini.
It drives me freaking crazy and does nothing for the motivation!
At the frustration of all my friends I now have a really big nice ‘chef’s’ kitchen, with three ovens, huge walk in butlers pantry, Lazy Susan’s in my corner cupboards to neatly place my pots and pans which is completely wasted on me. I did get into the cooking thing once, I was rather manic and as such had recently purchased a Thermomix. I spent about 6 continuous weeks baking up a storm, profiteroles, layer cakes, quiches and risottos all from scratch. Feel like lemon meringue pie at 3am?
Sadly as soon as that mania ended so did my new found *amazing ability and my desire to create, but at least I got my **Thermomix out of it, they might cost a bomb but they are great for lazy people who get distracted easily and want to make a risotto but don’t want to stand there and stir it. I have honestly used it every single day since I got it 7 years ago.
Cooking up a storm in the kitchen also comes at a price for the family, in our household the kids have to pitch in with the clean up, the tears and tantrums associated with washing 1,000,000 pots, pans and utensils you never knew you had can make you question just how important vegetables are for growing bodies – and we own a dishwasher!
So for now my Thermomix curries and heat up pre-packaged frozen goods might not be the most exciting meals, but they keep everybody fed. Although, now that Mr 15 has started doing cooking classes at school and likes to brag about what an “AMAZING” cook he is “MUCH better than Mum” I might just have to start making him prove himself at home, say dinner every Monday night darling?
* My ‘Amazing ability’ may have purely been delusions of grandeur…
** This post is not sponsored by Thermomix, however if they want to throw a freebie my way…
Do you LOVE or HATE cooking?
How on earth DO you stop things being too ‘tomatoey’?
So I wrote a letter to a radio DJ named Ryan Jon who does the breakfast show in a nearby city, but since he’s a public figure, I have no idea of how to contact him directly and don’t want to be too stalkery so thought I’d just blog it and then send him a link via Twitter!
I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Ryan last week during a promo the radio station was doing visiting small towns around the edge of the city, I happened to be passing through one of the towns and popped out to say g’day scoring myself a fabulous tea towel and a selfie with the hosts for my troubles.
When I got home I looked up Ryan on Twitter and noticed he had a podcast about his struggles with having a partner that is very ready for kids and his own fear of becoming a parent.
The podcast is called: “Am I ready To Be A Father” here is the iTunes LINK or you will find it on Spotify or wherever non Apple people go to find their favourite podcasts!
Recommended listening for anyone with kids, thinking about having kids or was once a kid, it’s a deep insight into the personal life and struggles of this fun-loving always-a-joker-DJ, he is only three episodes in and has already interviewed two amazing people – his gorgeous girlfriend Brigitte and the one and only Jimmy Barnes. (ahh the perks of being a breakfast radio host!)
Anyways, on with the letter:
Apologies in advance for the novel here, living on ‘the rim’, I have no radio reception and can only listen to the breakfast show in the car when I go to town so had missed a lot of the baby/no baby conversations you have had on air. I discovered your podcast yesterday and wanted to write a short response but got a little bit carried away!
I had a plan for my life too, I didn’t want kids, certainly not until I was in my 30’s. I wanted to go and travel the world, go to university and get an awesome job in something medical sciency where I could go to different countries helping and meeting people. But instead life had other plans, I quit school, left home, fell in love with a roommate and got knocked up.
I remember sitting on the toilet having just turned 17 years old, holding the positive pregnancy test in my hands and not knowing what the hell I was going to do next. It was of course less than ideal, I wasn’t even legally allowed to drink yet, I didn’t have my driver’s licence, we had barely any money and I had just enrolled to go back to school and get my year 12 certificate.
Luckily I think I already knew I was living with the love of my life, he was my boyfriend and my best friend and while we had only been together for 6 months I didn’t doubt my love for him but I was still terrified, did HE want this commitment with me? Would we end up breaking up like so many teenage parents? Would we have to live on Centrelink for the rest of our lives? What about all the things we would miss out on?
We considered an abortion, talked about adoption and eventually decided to ignore societies stereotypes and let go of that inner fear telling that we wouldn’t be good enough and decided to have and raise our child together.
My point here is life doesn’t always go the way you plan it to, if my fears would have stopped me back then I wouldn’t have Liam, my now 15yr old sweet, funny son who is somehow already nearly the age I was when he was born even though it feels like yesterday. If I had known I would develop a mental illness I likely wouldn’t have had his two brothers and his sister either, that’s four amazing little people that have already made their mark on this world that wouldn’t even exist right now if I had let my fears stand in my way.
You have already lived an amazing life Ryan, you have travelled the globe, lived in various cities, worked fun and interesting jobs and now you have found the love of your life, someone that completes you and loves you enough to want to make and raise miniature versions of you!
From the tone of your voice it sounds like you really do want kids, the warmth in which you describe having that biological connection brings tears to my eyes, so the overthinking and anxiety disguised as logic holds you back. It is ok to be scared, fear is normal and healthy, but not something that should stop you from moving forward through your life, you will be ok, I promise! Like you said yourself, there is no such thing as a perfect time to have children! You didn’t have a prominent father figure in your life but you still had a childhood – and from growing up with your mum you would have learned the things you do want and don’t want for your own kids.
Think of the stories you will be able to tell your children as they grow, think of their smiling faces as they look up at you with admiration thinking ‘wow, my Dad has done so much with his life, I want to be just like him!’ From the way you talk to and about each other, Brigitte comes across clearly as your perfect partner and therefor the perfect person for you to share this next chapter of your life with.
Being the best parent in the world won’t guarantee that your relationship will stay strong or your child wont eventually become a drug addict, have a mental illness or be involved in an accident. You can’t prevent life from happening to your children and you wouldn’t want to, it’s part of the beauty of raising a free thinking little human being.
When it all comes down to it you can only do the best you can with what you have available to you at the time. You can’t control the way things turn out for your children in the end, you can only influence it. Besides, there is no such thing as the perfect parent – in fact most of us are making it up as we go along and it’s working out fine! Just go to the bookstore and take a look in the parenting section if you don’t believe me, there are hundreds of books; if there was only one right way to parent a child there would only need to be one book. Different things work for different families and different kids in the same families, if I can offer you any advice there it’s to try out what feels right for you and if it doesn’t work let it go and try something else, it’s all a learning curve – we grow with our children.
So don’t look at fatherhood as a sacrifice or the end of that spontaneous fun- you don’t have to stop doing fun things just because you have a family, your priorities will change naturally and you will start to want to do different types of fun things. You will have to find a new work/life balance, but that will be ok, you will welcome the change and you will embrace it!
Yes, ok I admit that there are times when you feel like you don’t know what the hell you are doing and you will definitely get less sleep, particularly in the first year, but you actually get used to it surprisingly quickly and then one day you blink and they are teenagers that you have to spray with a water bottle just to get out of bed in the mornings…
Ryan, the fact that you are talking about this subject so publicly is awesome, it’s a great forum to start a conversation and its proof that you truly care, it is that caring that will make you a fantastic Dad!