Chance Encounters

*Trigger Warning*

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.

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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.IMG_6500[1]

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.

The Same Sex Marriage Debate

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.

Death

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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?

Choices

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, Why??

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?

No worries!

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’?

Dear Ryan

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:

Dear Ryan,

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!

Love,

Kate

Help Lynn Kick Breast Cancers Ass

The lovely Ty who blogs over at The Bipolar Photographer has recently shared his beautiful wife Lynn’s devastating diagnosis with an aggressive stage three breast cancer.

Ty has been a wonderful pillar of support to myself and the mental health community as a whole for many years sharing his journey through words and stunning photographs. Now it’s our turn to support him and his family through this difficult new chapter.

Alongside the obvious emotional stress this places upon the family, the financial burden of healthcare is huge, so if f you are in a position where you can help financially, there is a Go Fund Me page set up for Lynn HERE where you can donate a few dollars (or lot’s of dollars!) to help towards the costs.

If you are not in a position to contribute financially, perhaps you could share a post about your thoughts or experiences around breast cancer including a link to Lynn’s Go Fund Me page on your own blog or website and of course thoughts and prayers are always welcome.

So Lynn, I want you to know even though we are spread around the globe, all of us here in Blogland are standing by your side while you kick cancers ass!

Mummy Issues

I recently met with my psychiatrist and psychologist on the same day, my psychiatrist is generally AMAZING and is very big on talk therapy, unlike other shrinks I have seen who pull out the script pad the minute you walk through the door and then kick you out again.

Having both appointments on the same day was unintentional but it turned out to be very useful as I had some time to think about my discussion with my psychiatrist and then explore that further with my psychologist and had a bit of an epiphany.

Apparently, despite all the denial it turns out that I actually do have some deep seeded unresolved ‘Mummy Issues’ after all, but don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful upbringing. Growing up my much older half-brother & sister lived with their mother interstate and I lived the glorious life of an only child there was never any abuse, my parents were (and still are) happily married and I don’t ever remember them fighting. I have never doubted that I was loved – in fact I was doted on and spoiled rotten but perhaps that is a big part of the problem.

I didn’t grow up with siblings so I wasn’t teased at home and when I entered school life and the bullying began I couldn’t understand why other children could be so mean, intentionally harming others simply didn’t make any sense to me, the kids laughed at me because I was fat, tripped me over and called me names, I was devastated.

When I told mum she just said that it wasn’t true and that I was beautiful but she was my mother and she always said that, but the kids at school had no bias’s so why would they lie? Besides the evidence in the mirror was pretty damning. I soon decided I couldn’t trust anything positive my mother said because she HAD to be nice to me.

When I came home in tears Mum’s efforts to cheer me up involved giving me a hug and pretty much anything that I wanted and I wanted junk food. I was allowed to drink as much soft drink as I wanted from as far back as I can remember and I started drinking coffee at around age 7 we actually had a “chocolate drawer” in my house accessible and filled to the brim with a variety of fun size treats. So when I was around 8yrs old and too young to grasp what caused weight gain in the first place, I was consoled for being teased about my weight with chocolate treats or trips to McDonalds.

I don’t quite know how mum, who was frequently on a ‘diet’ or joining assorted weight watcher style groups, didn’t realise that all the “treats” to make me feel better were just adding to the problem. She maintained at the time that I wasn’t fat, and to this day claims that because I am smaller now as an adult it was “just puppy fat” but photo’s don’t lie and my current body shape is due to an eating disorder so frankly Mum…. Sigh…

My mother treated me like a little adult from early on, she thought I was mature for my age and spoke to me as such. I knew right from wrong, my core values were solid and so I was given very few boundaries and expected to make the right decisions.

I never wanted to disappoint my parents, but of course like all children I wanted to push the limits, the desire to try new things and experience the thrill of danger is strong. I quickly learned that if I simply chose to lie about my actions I could get away with pretty much anything I desired, I was the master of my own destiny and as I became a teenager and hormones and hypomania began rearing their ugly heads, all good intentions and common sense went out the window.

I finally found friends as awkward as me, we did drugs, I shaved my head, had sex and partied all night while I “stayed over at a friend’s place” and then I came home and did my homework where no one was the wiser. At 14 I got sick of the continued bullying and started losing weight, by 15 years old I had developed full blown anorexia and was filled with psychotic paranoia, I was terrified of food, counted every calorie, exercised constantly and thought my parents were trying to poison me. Yes, my parents were worried but I lied to them, I said I was fine and they seemed to believe me. I told them I must be having a growth spurt, I pretended to eat before they got up, threw my school lunches away and became a ‘vegetarian’ so I could make my own dinners.

They only took me to a doctor once, a GP. My BMI was about 15 and she told me if I didn’t eat I would end up with a feeding tube and I simply lied and told her I wasn’t afraid to gain weight and I would eat more, she reviewed me a week later so I water loaded before the appointment and so when I was weighed I was deemed to be ‘making progress’ I lied and told her I felt much better with more weight on me and that was the end of that. Case closed, nothing to worry about and no psychiatric assessment at all.

Of course my weight continued to drop, I wore baggier clothes and when the school worried I denied any problem to them and myself – nobody was going to make me fat again. I was being asked to see the counselor daily and just skipped school instead – I never even met her. When they pushed the issue and had a meeting with my mother behind my back I was furious, Mum felt guilty and I just stopped going to school altogether.

At 15 ½  I got a full time retail job and Mum and Dad went along with it.

I started dating a 30yr old just after my 16th birthday and they smiled as they shook his hand, I left home a few months later so that I could be alone with my eating disorder and they helped me move. No one ever put their foot down, or even really tried – they were always super supportive, always trusting my judgement.

Mum still prides herself on having a ‘friendship’ with me, she had always wanted to be my friend not ‘just my mother’ but sometimes kids need to be treated like kids, they need to be given firm boundaries and told “no”.

Yes, it turns out that I am harbouring some parental resentment there after all. I love my Mum very much and I know she did her best and what she believed was the right thing to do at the time, but I can’t help but feel that maybe if she had said “No” more often when I was little I wouldn’t have been as plump, perhaps teased a little less and not gone on to develop an eating disorder. Maybe I wouldn’t still be dealing with one now at 32 if I had gotten actual psychological help when I first needed it and maybe my bipolar would have been recognised and diagnosed earlier and some of my manic self-destructiveness could have been prevented.

That being said, I have certainly learned a lot from my experiences and if all of that stuff hadn’t of happened I probably wouldn’t have met my husband, been knocked up at 17 and have the amazing family I have today.

Do you blame your parents for your issues?

 

Windows To The Soul

The old saying “the eyes are the windows to the soul” has a lot of truth to it, they reveal your true mood and your true feelings, I can immediately tell if my dad is having a good day or not just by looking at his eyes, there is a certain vacant dullness that comes over them on a bad day whereas on a good day they will twinkle with life.

My husband says when I am manic the whites of my eyes sparkle and the iris’s glisten a vivid almost unnatural blue and when I am depressed they fade to grey; facial expressions and body language can be manipulated to mask emotion, but the eyes never lie.

Thank God for sunglasses.

Holiday-lag

I am home after five days in Brisbane, the sunshine state certainly put on a good show for us weather wise living up to the old saying “Queensland is beautiful one day, perfect the next!”

So my eldest son (Mr 14), my Dad and I flew up last Thursday to visit my brother, his fiancé and their exceptionally cute two year old son for five days. It was Mr 14’s first plane trip and he loved it! No travel sickness for anyone, I think I have finally found a travel pill that works and we also had an incredibly smooth flight which helps.

My brother is lucky enough to live within walking distance of pituresque Southbank and the bustling Brisbane City Centre, I had never really spent time in Brisbane before and was surprised at just how beautiful and green it was, there are parklands, play grounds and manicured public gardens everywhere and of course it’s warm so all the trees have leaves in winter which was a pleasant change from my part of the country

So my holiday was fantastic but today I have been hit with wave of unexpected depression. Holiday-lag perhaps. I think that there are many contributing factors, I returned home to find out that we had completely run out of water and the water truck man I had organized didn’t turn up then when I rang him he said he couldn’t come out until tomorrow and he had increased his price by $80. We told him not to worry about it and now we have to figure something else out so that we can shower again as it doesn’t look like it’s going to rain any time soon.

I am really tired, I have actually slept more in the last week than I usually do but for some reason I am exhausted. My routine is out of whack, I haven’t been for a run in a week which is stressing me out, I think spending that time with my brother’s family made me realize how much I miss seeing them and overwhelmingly I am really noticing the slow decline in Dad.

My regular readers would know that my Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s earlier this year, it’s sad to see Dad’s memories fading, watching him have fun with my young nephew and knowing that he soon won’t remember it so it was really special to be able to get lots of photographs and some video footage of the trip that we can show him later on.

One evening after Dad turned in for the night, my brother, sister in law and I watched a 4 corners episode about Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It followed the stories of a few different people as their condition progressed and it was sobering to say the least, there is such a long road to go down, it’s scary and so, so sad.

When we flew back to Canberra Mr14 and I spent the night at Dad’s place, Mum is still away in Canada with her friend and he is leaving for his bucket list trip to Darwin today that Mum booked for him seemingly out of some sort of miss-placed guilt about going overseas without him. While his condition isn’t too bad yet and the new medication he is on is making a difference, I am quite worried about him embarking on this trip alone.

I really want him to have the experience – he’s been talking about going since I was about 5yrs old, but I wish Mum was going with him and I am annoyed at her for being so unconcerned about it all.

He is mostly fine as long as he sticks to his routine and everything goes exactly as he expects it to like at home, but he gets quite muddled & distressed when something changes and frankly he has been back home from Brisbane 24 hours and was already tired, he then he had to leave at 4.30am get a taxi to the airport catch a plane to Sydney, then transfer all his baggage and catch a new plane in a different area to Darwin and then find the tour group. Coming home is even more complicated- its a lot of steps for him at the best of times and I really hope there are no gate changes or delays!

It is an over 50’s tour group and I rang them and told them about Dad’s condition as my Mum had not even mentioned it when she booked him in ( I swear she’s in denial). They were very grateful to have the heads up and I gave them my contact details in case of any issues. I have given him dot point, step by step instructions and booked his taxi for him, I went through his phone and updated his contacts information and filled out his medical ID with all of his medications, current doses etc. He can sort them into their little boxes but if you ask him out of context what he takes, he can’t tell you.

Sigh… His plane should be landing in Darwin in about five minutes so I will send him a text message to ask if he had a good flight (and check that he got there ok!).

Have you had experience with Dementia /Alzheimer’s in a loved one?

Do you get holiday-lag when you come home to reality?