So, what do you do when you are feeling like an impulsive, rebellious teenager?
Answer: Whatever the hell you want.
So I bought a stack of new clothes and dyed my hair.
Going ‘bright’ is something I have toyed with over the years, but also something I could never bring myself to actually go ahead with. But it seems like I’ve hit a bit of a “fuck everyone” stage and so I decided to take a leaf out of Nike’s book and just do it!
Platinum Blonde and Smurfette-Blue.
My kids HATE it, actually nobody likes it, well except for my polite twitter friends and a few random retailers that have commented positively but they are trying to sell me things… Honestly though, for the first time in my life I truly don’t care what people think, I like it.
Maybe it’s a control thing, I chose this, it wasn’t thrust upon me so it’s ok. I also purposely didn’t go with bright pink because it is so socially acceptable, there is the possibility of a breast cancer related motive and people don’t question it. I think deep down I wanted to be questioned.
Old ladies look at me now with the same disdain they did when I was a pregnant teenager. A raised eyebrow and low muttering, judgement written all over their wrinkled faces. I used to run to the bathroom and cry when that happened, 17yrs old and scared, the doubt of my own abilities confirmed and amplified by those elderly stares and tut tuts.
Now even in my fragile state of mind those stares don’t hurt me, in fact they almost make me feel powerful. These people know nothing about my life or my morals. I didn’t choose to be an overweight 8yr old, I didn’t choose teenage pregnancy, I sure as hell didn’t choose bipolar, but I chose this. I decided.
So rather than hide away sobbing like my former self, I make direct eye contact, smile at them warmly and say, “what a beautiful brooch you are wearing” of “isn’t it a beautiful day outside”. Some seem threatened by the strange blue haired women suddenly talking to them or complimenting them, surely there must be an ulterior motive, will she steal my brooch? Others seem pleasantly surprised and even reply, “yes, it is lovely today”. It feels like I am daring them to step outside of their comfort zones by challenging their expectations.
Opening minds, or making a fool of myself? Who really cares? Let ME live MY life.
My husband commented that I am giving away my anonymity as society assumes the average woman in her mid-thirties who dyes her hair bright colours is probably crazy. I wanted to argue at him for being generally rude and perpetuating the stigma, but honestly, perhaps he has a point. I hate to admit it, but everyone I have known that has randomly dyed their hair bright colours has been going through something.
So yes, perhaps I am ‘crazy’ but maybe I am just so sick of hiding it, if you don’t like me for who I am, bipolar and all then feel free to go, you don’t have to know me. So, for now I will wear my heart on my sleeve and the colour of my madness on the top of my head, and I will wear them with pride.
Do you like outlandish hair colours?
In the past, I have been less than compliant with the medication regimes and advice of psychiatrists, but I listen to Meredith. I have always complied with her, I have always been a good girl. I have a ‘cancellation’ appointment today with the wonderful Meredith.
I will have to admit that she’s wasting her time with me as nothing much has really changed from the brief emergency session I had with her last week after e-mailing her in a moment of weakness begging for help.
Nothing has changed because I changed nothing; I ignored her advice.
I can’t do it right now, medication, the side effects are too bad. I need to be there for people, I need to be able to take the kids to school and my parents to appointments and do the shopping and clean the house and generally do all the shit that doesn’t do itself if I stop to spend two weeks in bed gaga as I get used to the meds again.
The euphoric mania side of this weird mixed episode is so fleeting but so good, it’s costing me a lot of money and that’s affecting my relationship but when it’s warmth embraces me I don’t even care about those trivial ‘life’ things, because the trees are so fucking green and the sky is so fucking blue and I never want to see the faded colours of reality again, I much prefer surrounding myself instead, with the colours of madness.
Beauty reins superior until the tide finally turns and I tremble for an hour, lost between two alternative realities, or sometimes I just wake up and the worlds has returned to winter, life is black and white, the colours of madness all but a memory hidden by a blanket of the thickest fog. Nothing matters.
But the knowledge that mania’s vivid hues lie just below the surface are still enough to stop me swallowing the bitter pill that will augment my reality to someone else’s ideal, if I can just grasp it again for a second I can hold on and never let go, I can run forever with its colourful kite tails flying behind me. Free.
I would rather die here with my demons than live in a world of another’s making, a world where I have to live with the knowledge of what I have lost.
And I don’t remember how to care about what I leave behind.
My reflection shows the reality of several sleepless nights spent choosing creating, wishing and building over nurturing my body and yet my mind chooses to ignore it, my thoughts are too busy rushing and tingling, alive with promise and expectation. So much to do and it’s all achievable!
I hold out some small hope that if I can alter the outside image I will fool the world and ultimately myself. If I can change the appearance I can change the facts, then this doesn’t ever have to end. I put on a dress, headed to town to have my eyebrows tended to and nails painted in sparkly blue glitter. I plan to tackle the hair later in the week, bimbo blonde with a hint of bright blue, fun and light.
Stopping first for breakfast at my favourite café as I haven’t eaten in a while, then taking a walk through the town park, it was so beautiful, garden beds in full bloom. Poppies are always such happy flowers and the light was illuminating their many colours in just the right way. It made me forget everything else for just a moment, sitting there on the stone bench, birds calling from the towering willow trees above and the warmth of the sun radiating onto my face and filling my soul with purity. For a short time, we were all connected, the earth, nature and me. One.
The man in the grocery shop was looking at me filling my trolley, judging. I want to scream that it’s not all for me, that I have a big family but I could feel his thoughts – “tsk, tsk, this is why she’s so fat…”
On the way home I stop off to check out the new Pet Store on the old highway. I have never been in there and I am pleasantly surprised by how extremely nice it is, has all the stuffs at reasonable prices, nice staff and it’s super clean! I express my impressed-ness to the girl cleaning the fish tanks and ask if they hire new staff very often.
She says in fact they have a casual weekday position available at the moment and I know the stars have lined up, it’s perfect! I am told the boss is away for a week but to bring in a resume when he returns. I leave walking on air, with three new fish and the chance of a new job that I might actually be able to do!
I return home, eyebrows defined, nails gleaming, car full of goodies. I pop the fish in the tank and check out my reflection, it has definately improved, I add makeup. Perfect.
Time to run, it’s been so long but it finally feels right. Step, step, step. Music fills my ears and my heart, I am unable to believe just how well these lyrics define me, I suddenly know I am not alone; words are everything and here I am flying straight through them, surrounded by their descriptive beauty, safe.
Later my body is demanding sleep while my mind sings, dances and flits from idea to idea like a restless butterfly. I am chasing the ghosts and shadows around the room through the corners of my tired eyes, up down and sideways, closer, farther, in out and round again but when I try to look at them they disappear into the abyss.
The family have returned, the house is full of noise again. The shadow ghosts have run away, I would like to be a shadow ghost, disappearing at will into that mass of micro pixels that make up our world, separating, reforming. Invisible.
Nobody else likes my sparkly nails or the hole my latest shopping endeavour has put in the bank account. We go to bed, he rolls away from me, angry or worse, dissapointed. Lying in the darkness I glance at the outline of my pillbox and once again choose to ignore them. I know I should take them but I am afraid. There is too much to do and I am frightened that if and when I do eventually sleep the remnants of happiness will be taken from me, I can’t go back to the darkness again…
But it’s too late anyway, after several days awake I have crossed the line of hypomanic exhaustion, tears roll down my cheeks, my brain finally calls a ceasefire with my body and I am asleep.
I wake again 8 hours later, I’m so tired and it seems like all my fears have come true.
Drained of energy, self-worth and the will to care about trying to fix it anymore. The happiness has gone and I can’t even seem to remember what it feels like anymore. I deliver the children to school and frantically look around the house for something I can connect with.
Writing. Writing fixes everything. I place my fingers on the keyboard of my shiny new much wanted but totally unnecessary iMac, my nails sparkle up at me but I look away, they are now a source of conflict, simply a reminder that all the times I try to make myself feel better turn out to be pointless because I always go about it the wrong way, I am selfish and just end up hurting the people I love and I am sick of it, they are sick of it.
I hate myself for being like this, I have hated myself for as long as I can remember and I am so desperately sorry that it cuts into my core like a knife, but my apologies will never be good enough because I am still the same person delivering them, over and over again. I say I’ll try harder to change and I want to, but it doesn’t work.
I don’t know how not to be me and still exist in this world.
And I don’t know if I want to.
I am lucky enough to have the lovely ‘Depressed Not Dead’ pod caster extraordinaire jamoalki come on here today (and hopefully again in the future) to share some of his story with you! I will also give a quick *Trigger Warning* here as the topic of suicide is discussed in detail. Without further ado, over to jamoalki! – Kate
Hi, I’m jamoalki. That’s not a typo, jamoalki is my handle on the internet. It’s a word I created using the first two letters from each of my girl’s first names. It’s all lowercase because I love them all and JaMoAlKi looks funny and JAMOALKI looks like I’m yelling. So hello.
Kate and I met…well I’m not sure. A major symptom of my mental illness is that my memory is out the window. Maybe we crossed paths on Twitter or maybe we chatted with each other in #SickNotWeak’s defunct set of chat rooms. (As an aside, I hope they’re able to get them back up and running.) What matters is that we met and I think she’s wonderful.
How wonderful? Well she’s agreed to cross blog with each other. I’m so excited to get her thoughts and way of thinking on my page www.jamoalki.info. Often, when I’m reading her blog I swear she’s reached inside my head and pulled the words straight from me.
Think she’s buttered up enough? On with the introduction.
I have major depressive disorder, dysthymia and avoidant personality disorder. I suspect I’ve been dysthymic since the beginning, which brought around the AvPD as I grew up. Somewhere along the way I picked up the MDD, and that’s the one that scares me the most. That’s the one which many times brought me to the edge of and a couple of times to follow through and try to die by suicide.
The last time was a little over two and a half years ago, January 21, 2015. I tried to overdose on my prescription medication. It should have worked. It probably would have worked had I gone somewhere secluded. Three months later I spent a weekend figuring out where I went wrong. I worked out how to do it better “next time”.
That next time hasn’t come, yet. I’ve been close in other ways. As close as a few seconds to half a day of planning away from executing a plan.
I’m the dumbest smart person I know. I can do the physics to know the impact from jumping off a cliff at the Grand Canyon, USA or drive into a semi, head on, with a combined speed of 180 mph (290 kmh). I know to make sure to buy the cable with the proper working strength for the height of the “High Bridge” here in St Paul, USA. But I’m not smart enough to know that suicide is not the best way to go.
I have, in the rafters in my basement, a large Rx bottle filled to the brim with months worth of Wellbutrin and Trazadone crushed up into fine powder. There it sits, waiting for me to retrieve it, someday. I don’t have a plan for it. Not yet anyway.
For now, it’s simply reassuring knowing it’s there. Understanding that a way out is only two floors below me. Sealed tight. Like a baby blanket or teddy bear it doesn’t ask anything of me, it only sits and waits for me to need it, when the world gets scary and nothing else will make me feel safe. It’s my secret safety blanket from the world.
It’s with that bottle in mind that I asked Kate to cross-blog with me. Another low-pressure form of accountability and distraction to keep that bottle downstairs tucked away in silence.
Thank you so much jamoalki!
Website: www.jamoalki.info Follow on Twitter: @jamoalki
Podcast: ‘Depressed Not Dead’ – available on iTunes and all good podcast mediums and don’t forget to leave a 5 star rating!
This week has been hard. I’m not coping, not like a proper person. I can’t even pin point the exactness of my fuckedupedness right now. But things seem to have escalated quickly and I think I might actually be having a mixed manic episode rather than the depression I felt I was being slowly choked by just a few short days ago.
I don’t really feel sad at the moment, yet I feel like at any moment something could send me into a sobbing, heaving mess. I’m certainly not happy. My chest is buzzing with adrenaline but it’s different to normal anxiety, I want to run, run fast and far, and awaay from the world and be surrounded by all of it at the same time. I just want to drive fast, TOO FAST, I want to watch the speedo hit 200 and feel the rush in my body as I fly down a hill and decide at the last minute whether or not to just keep flying, into the trees by the side of the road, racing into oblivion; flying forever.
Everything in the world is linking with all the other stuff, old lives are colliding with new ones and all my memories are fighting like dogs for poll position. I am utterly consumed with my thoughts but they are racing through my mind so quickly that I am getting confused when I just want to write and write and write but when I reflect it all looks like nonsense, last hours thoughts were thinking one thing and now I’m thinking different things and I can’t remember…
I know I should take something, pills, something to slow my mind down, take the edge off, but I don’t want to slow down. I am teetering on the edge of the matrix and I want to immerse myself in its intensity, hide in the plain sight of a nightclub in a big city somewhere feeling the beat of the bass throbbing through my soul. I want to rob a bank and set fire to the pile of cash on the sidewalk while yelling at people about the evils of money, I want to run from the cops and feel the exhilaration of nearly being caught. I want to feel myself explode into a million pieces.
I know I’m not coping because I haven’t made dinner in over a week, I forgot to feed and water the chickens for 3 days, I forgot to give the kids I was babysitting lunch yesterday because I was too busy trying to convert my shit to WordPress, hyper focused, pity about responsibilities.
I have been avoiding The Hubby’s family like the plague and that includes skipping out on Facebook. I prefer Twitter, I can say what I want and nobody gives a fuck and besides nobody there knows how to contact my relatives so I feel like I really can say whatever I want. The chick down at the servo asked if I was alright in a concerned manner the other day and the shoe shop lady told me to ‘just breath’ so I’m clearly not covering up my feelings as well as I thought I was.
My in law side of the family are sharp as tacks and like blood hounds always sniffing me for the first sign of distress so I’m sticking to short texts and smiley face emoji’s. My mum & dad are thankfully less observant.
Because of the avoidance I’m sucking particularly hard at Auntying. I forgot to post one nieces birthday present, I completely forgot my baby niece’s birthday which was yesterday and I forgot all about my other big nieces 18th birthday party tomorrow until 5 minutes ago. It’s a bad time to be my niece. The 18th is a two-hour drive away, it’s a family affair and I am expected to go, to interact, to bring my children, to be a mother, to discuss my children, to discuss the weather and the normal facets of life. But how can I possibly talk to people when I am so consumed with this intense internal urge to run and thoughts racing through my mind like a fucking freight train? Yes I can hear you, and your right, drinking would be the obvious answer but I suspect that would be a very bad idea.
I’m sane enough to know I can’t tell them how I’m feeling, but if I get drunk I might just do that. I can’t articulate my big talk thoughts into small talk ones. There is no small talk going on in my mind right now, nothing is small, everything is massive, even the weather – have you noticed the weather? Mother nature is just like me, all or nothing, everything is life and death.
Small talk is inevitable, commitments are inevitable, family ones I mean, not psychiatric ones, though perhaps both statements would be accurate for somebody like me particularly the latter if I was to fuck up the former. I fear commitment, psychiatric I mean, been there done that, got the scars to prove it. They would likely strip search me and lock me straight in acute if I got sectioned again, after last time. Nobody trusts me, which is probably fair enough. But I’m not ready to be committed again, I’m not prepared like last time, don’t have options, choices, wouldn’t have control. I need control They would just drug me, bring me down, I don’t want to be brought down, too many questions, too many consequences. No, I am free now and free I shall stay, until my final dying day.
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.