Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself


Sunday, May 31, 2009

This One's For Coyote and Juno

I made the top LOLCAT from a photo of my cat Sami - I heard Wandering Coyote might be in need of a new therapist and most of us agree cats make the best doctors. Then the second LOLCAT is one I saw today at and I instantly thought of the beautiful and voluptuous Juno and her BLFD.

Wandering Coyote's blog was the first one I found, back in Jan/Feb when I was struggling with my psychotic breakdown and eventual diagnosis with Borderline Personality Disorder. I googled "California Rocket Fuel", the medication combo I was on (Effexor and Mirtazapine), and lo and behold I found a kindred spirit. Coyote found herself a stalker hahahahaha. Jokes. No, really! Through Coyote I found my other blogging friends, all of whom have helped me navigate my way to semi-sanity. I just wanted to say thanks, and to reassure her that even on days when she feels like shit she means the world to me (to us, yeah?).

My Cartoon! Thanks Chato!

I think Chato B. Stewart ( has done an AMAZING job with his cartoon-a-thon this month -- 31 cartoons in 31 days. I think he's ended with a real "bang", two of my favourites for the month are seen below:

I hope I manage to always keep my sense of humour. I hope I can always laugh at myself and my life, even when it seems like despair is going to claim me. I am So proud to have been a part of the Mental Health Month Cartoonathon. Now, how did Chato know I often miss my bus stop because I am in daydream world?? People ARE watching me!! I knew I wasn't paranoid hahaha.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

How It Starts

The last couple of days have been less than stellar. You know how it goes... you start to feel stronger and more able to cope with life's logistics. You spend some time (in my case, ably "advised" by parents) going over the financial train wreck once known as Your Budget. It's never a cheerful prospect, and for someone separated from her bread-winner husband just on 12 months (a bread-winner who is gleefully gorging on all his own damn bread now thank you very much), it really hurts. When we split, the two main debts Mr Ex and I had were split down the middle, with me taking on the $23,000 personal loan and him taking on the $19,000 car loan. Then, in those early heady days of post-marriage possibility, I was still working fulltime. I was living with my parents, splitting rent and bills, but still with a solid support base if and when required. He was moving out on his own, and the decision to do so had been thrust upon him, so I cut him some financial slack. He doesn't pay child support for the three animals we have, I have paid for his private health insurance since the split, and a couple of weeks ago he flew across the country on vacation paid for by his family. Bitter much? Ha!

Now, a year and a breakdown later, the repayments on the loan are about 1/3 of my total earnings. I've had to cancel my health insurance and gym membership. I can't declare bankruptcy without the loan defaulting to Mr Ex, which would painfully and permanently put an end to the amicable divorce. On top of this, Mr Ex's sister generously gave him her as-new laptop computer, so he "gave" me back the rental PC we had signed up for, along with the $100 a month payment. I found out that the rental contract can't be cancelled and to buy it out will cost $1500 (more than a new PC is worth), so I am stuck paying the $100 a month til Feb 2010.

I don't know why I'm even re-living this, or sharing it. I suppose this is a space for venting, and I do need to vent about the roiling fury that simmers in my stomach when I think about my finances, which are currently sitting on death row with no hope for a pardon. I got myself into this, don't get me wrong. I know that the BPD-fuelled spending, and general lack of budgeting, over the last 10 years have created a pit of debt that I deserve to inhabit. It's just that my day-to-day living is so damn pathetic and dismal (compared to the whirlwind of fancypants mania spending), and this New Deal budget my folks and I have worked out basically means I have to not buy coffee, lunch, magazines or food - ever. And the one outing I have per week, tenpin bowling, is in serious danger of being taken away. I literally can barely afford to survive. My food and rent and bills are subsidised by my family, only slightly but enough to make me feel unworthy and invalid. Ah, the catch cry of the Borderline...

I am trying to stay focused on the reasons for the belt-tightening, which are that I am dealing with a serious mental illness and therefore am only able to work part-time. The fact that I have a great job, and can function pretty well there, are things to be proud of. So what if I have to live like a pauper for the next five years? One day I will be free and clear of this stupid personal loan, and free of other debts because I won't qualify for any credit until hell freezes over. I am trying to focus on the things that don't need money, the important parts of my life that I love and adore which don't cost a cent (thanks Michelle!).

It scared me, this week, to feel derailed again and to lose the early glow of great-job-happiness. My favourite saying at the moment is "there is no recovery without relapse", and these less-than-stellar times will test my mental health. Today, my day off, I watched Buffy and slept. In a way, this was kind of the last straw. I had to get the Buffy videos out of the local library as my DVD-by-mail monthly rental plan is another casualty of the New Deal. Luckily, my ancient VCR still works...

Monday, May 25, 2009


I had such high hopes for part-time work - namely that my two days off during the week would be filled with exercise, socialising, blogging, writing, homework and housework. I'm now two weeks into my new life, and am loving every minute of my job. But the days off have been almost ENTIRELY filled with sleeping and laying semi-comatose on the couch. I think (hope) it's a period of adjustment -- after 4 months of being on disability I had become used to rest being the norm rather than the exception. So when I have the chance, my body is desperately trying to catch up. I'm also dealing with the 3 hours travelling each workday, which means that come Monday and Thursday the LAST thing I want to do is go anywhere.

Other than the tiredness, and lack of accomplishment on my days off, I think I am doing well. Dr A has been in the US for 2 weeks, so I've been "untherapied" but none the worse for it. I'm looking foward to catching up with him and sharing some positive news for a change. I'm getting to do some interesting and challenging work at DF, and most of the time have support and backup whenever I need it. I wish I had found work in the charity field years ago... the atmosphere is completely different. My last job, at the Evil Empire, seemed to be entirely about money and the bottom line. Now, every cent and every atom of energy spent is towards helping people. Whether I'm typing, filing, writing or updating the website -- everything is done with the ultimate goal of helping people. I feel like I'm in heaven. Gush gush...blah blah.

Being part of an entirely female workforce has its downside. The communal lunch stretches from half an hour to an hour sometimes, as people share stories of ex-husbands, recalcitrant kids and horror stories from the news headlines. Mostly, I eat my lunch and then go back to work. I've never been one for group sharing lol. No-one seems to mind, as I pick up the phone while they can keep nattering. Because they are a disparate group of women, I neither fit in or don't fit in, if you know what I mean. They seem to be thrilled to have me there, and use my skills, and have said I am wonderful and capable. Phew.

I really think Dr A has a point when he talks about moderate BPD (the category he puts me in) being helped by the structure and purpose of work (fulltime, part-time or volunteer). He was telling me once that quite a few mental illnesses are made harder to cope with when you add work to the mix, but Borderlines often improve when they can find a healthy work/life mix. I was starting to think he was full of crap, and no doubt not everyone has the same experience as me, but so far I am finding everything easier to cope with now I am working somewhere positive. My last job was definitely a major contributor to my breakdown and illness. But part-time work, and work in a positive environment, is a whole different kettle of fish. I also find that being out of the house, and away from the family stressors, has helped my mood.

In other news, last weekend was exciting because of the two semifinals and the final of Eurovision. I was disappointed in the eventual winner, Norway, who was a sweet enough lad but not one of my favourites. Here are two of my favourites, Portugal (who came 15th out of 25 countries) and Estonia (6th), both of which had completely beautiful and talented ladies out front who made me wish I still lived in Europe:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It's Been A Long Time...

...since I loved anything as much as I love my new job at The Foundation. I've tried unsuccessfully to play it cool and be circumspect, now I have to come out with it!! It's completely wonderful - the women in the office are compassionate and supportive and interesting, the work I will be doing is varied and has purpose, and the office is located in a beautiful riverside suburb. These people think I am sent from heaven - my skills are exactly what they need for the position, and so far my disposition seems to fit with them also. Phew. While I have not yet exhaled, I'm letting my breath out (and my guard down) a little bit more each day.

One of the many things I love, and want to rave about, it the fact that the whole office (between 10 and 15 staff depending on the day) sits together and has lunch. I've never experienced that before...and they talk about all kinds of random things, not just work. The psychologists, execs and office staff sit together and chat. It's weird. But nice weird. People listen to my ideas, and ask questions, and my boss M has said a number of times that she knows it will take me a couple of months to find my feet and feel confident in the job. A COUPLE OF MONTHS!! Not three days! Hooray.

It would seem that the best thing that could have happened to me this year is leaving my last job (both the one where I had my breakdown and the one I got sacked from). Because if ever a place was meant to be MY workplace, it's this. The last couple of days have shown me how miserable I've been at work for a long time. Which is undoubtedly why I indulged my hyperattachment BPD side and spent hours formulating and acting on crushes. I was bored, unappreciated, lonely and goal-less. Every day, now, I do things that help The Foundation to help kids (and adults) to read. It's the opposite of where I was 6 months ago.

I am supposed to be off tomorrow but am going into the office for a few hours for training. My work days will usually be Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, which will give me time to catch up on my online world and also see Dr A, etc. The Good Doc is in America for 2 weeks at a Psychiatric Conference, which is the longest I've been without seeing him since February. Thankfully, things seem to be ticking along nicely. He has backup staff in the practice while he's away but I'd rather not have to start over with someone.

There are two main drawbacks with my new job. One is the travelling (1 - 1.5 hours each way on three buses). The other is the financial aspect. Not only am I reduced to part-time hours, but the hourly wage is considerably less than my last job (because it's a charity). I really don't care, as long as I can survive - which I will once I cancel my private health insurance (which has given me nothing except cheaper dental anyway) and my gym membership. Some other stuff might have to go. But it's worth it for a sense of purpose and satisfaction. The travelling will be tiring, but I was travelling almost as much for my last job (and that was 5 days a week).

The post is incredibly dull, I'm sorry - I mainly just wanted to update y'all on the situation. I promise I will make more of an effort soon! To my lovely friends who are struggling just now -- I hope that there are brighter times ahead for you xxx

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Another Great Cartoon!

I know we can all relate to this one! Keep up the excellent work Mr Stewart (:

Taken from - The purpose of the Cartoon-A-Thon is to use humor and laughter as positive tools in dealing with emotional disturbances which effect many people and families due to mental Illness. As a consumer and an amateur cartoonist, Chato B. Stewart has been drawing cartoons to help thousands find a smile. Over the past year he has Volunteered his time and talent drawing cartoons to help in educating others about mental disorders.
The Blog, Mental Health Humor went online May 14th, 2007. Since then, it has won many awards and much acclaim from fellow bloggers. The blog has been visited by 96,087 unique people and has explored and looked at 374,807 time also called "page views".Living in recovery, while maintaining balance for Bipolar Disorder, he used drawing cartoons as a coping skill. Drawing cartoons about Depression, Bipolar, and other mood disorders for what he calls “a consumers point of view.” Chato embraces prevention, resiliency, and recovery for children, adults, and families living with mental illnesses and their caregivers. The Mental Health Humor cartoons have appeared on many websites and blogs. Many Mental Health Newsletters publish the cartoons. From Florida, to California, up in Canada and all the way down under in Australia, the cartoons are giving giggles to peers far and wide.
Now he is volunteering his pen and paper for every day of Mental Health Month to DRAW one Cartoon for each day in May. Please show your support by making a pledge to help us reach our goal. We can't do it with out you.

"Star" Of The Week

In case the cheerleader didn't give it away - I got the job! My dream job, helping out with events and admin for a literacy charity, starts on Tuesday and I couldn't be more thrilled. In contrast to my last ill-fated new job, which I was dreading and felt nervous about, I can't wait to get started at DF. I went there today to sign the paperwork and meet everyone -- the clincher for me is that there are no men working there! As much as I love blokes (love them too much, to my detriment haha), I think that having them in my workplace has been a major distraction for me. No doubt I will be lamenting their absence soon!! When I get bored and cast my eyes around the office for some eye candy...

Although it sounds trite, I have been desperately wanting a job that gave something back to the community. It's something I've talked about to my friends and family for the last year, and this opportunity is wonderful. I love reading, am passionate about it, and helping people to read is a dream come true. Also, the job will use my wide range of skills - unlike other jobs I've had which focused more on either PR/marketing or office admin, this one has both aspects. I'm excited for the first time in months.

Last night I picked up my birthday present (a month early!), which was my new ten pin bowling ball.

It may be a coincidence but the first frame I bowled was 60 pins over average (which qualifies for a Star of The Week Certificate lol). I've only been bowling since January but I truly love it, even at my lowest points this year I've managed to get to league and smile and have fun. I owe my friend Michelle EVERYTHING for introducing me to ten pin - our team is called No Deal and we have heaps of goofy sayings and signals. Crazy, but fun. My parents and Mr Ex clubbed together to buy my new ball - they rock! I've named her "Pinky".

So all in all, a great couple of days. I'm hoping to get to the gym tomorrow and do some grocery shopping. Looking after the family is tricky, but I'm finding organisation helps (menu planning, timetables, etc!!) Two adults (plus me), four cats and a dog are all being fed and medicated correctly and on time. In some ways, I'm finding having the extra responsibility is a good motivator. If I don't drag my arse out of bed and cook dinner then everyone goes hungry, not just me. Mum called and she is having a terrific time, which is great - I'm so happy I managed to keep it together long enough for her to feel she could leave us all without me cracking up. If she'd missed out on this trip because of my illness I would have been devastated. I hope she brings me back something cool from Laos! I collect snow globes but somehow I don't think they have a lot of those in the Golden Triangle...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Eurovision Part Two - A Retraction

I realised yesterday after my comment on my Eurovision post that Celine won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1988 singing for Switzerland, not France. Hey, it was in French, okay?! Lol.

You can view the charming Celine here... white jacket 80s, where have you gone...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Eurovision Song Contest

One of the few things that can make me smile at the moment is remembering that the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest is on next week. It's been one of my passions since the mid 90s when I lived briefly in England, where it's very popular. Australia doesn't enter, for obvious reasons (though these days the countries involved are further afield than traditional Europe!) but the contest has always been screened here, with a bit of a cult following. It's one of those mad, fun, weird things that I don't fully understand, but I love it. You never know what to expect from Eurovision -- some of the artists and songs are truly brilliant, and yet more are truly tragic. The voting is by telephone, by the public, and there's always some "bloc" voting (with neighbouring countries voting for each other, etc). The usual commentator, BBC's Terry Wogan, has retired after umpteen years, which is sad because he managed to be reverent yet slightly sarcastic in his comments. Often we would be laughing so hard at his commentary that we would miss some of the songs!

This year's contest is held in Russia, as they won it in 2008 (a very cute boy named Dima won with his song "Believe"). There are so many countries now that they have two semi-finals, which are on the 12 and 14 of May, with the final on the 16th. Mr Ex is also a huge fan, as is my family, so we usually have a party with international foodstuffs, quizzes, games, and costumes. Big, big deal! Last year, it was the weekend Mr Ex and I made the decision to part ways, which naturally put a dampener on celebrations. I'm hoping this year will be more enjoyable...

I've decided to put here on my blog some of my favourite Eurovision acts from last year. Bosnia & Herzegovina's entry came's so weird and catchy! Makes me smile...

Latvia was one of the favourites last year, they've won the contest before - this entry came 12th. I absolutely love it.

Earlier today I really felt bereft. So hard to get motivated, crazy and harmful thoughts going through my mixed up head. I feel a lot better now, thanks to my litle Eurovision hobby/obsession. I have CDs of previous contests, and the last ten years on video, and youtube has stacks of clips. I think I will spend more time in Eurovision world this week.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Wastrel, and Day 4's Cartoon

As mentioned previously, I'm supporting and Chato B. Stewart's cartoon-a-thon for Mental Health Month. Above is the cartoon for Day 4 - great work from Mr Stewart! Stay tuned for my caricature later in the month...

The last few days have been blah. There's a lot of it going around, methinks. I have been struggling to get out of bed, feeling fibromyalgic for the first time since I discovered Reverse Therapy in 2006/07. Back then, with my wonderful therapist Maxine, and a lot of work, I recovered from FM, and I know using the same techniques again will help me. If only I had the energy. It's a Catch 22 similar to that I experience in CBT -- the therapy is brilliant, and works, but applying it requires commitment and strength that is sometimes beyond my capabilities. Well, it's NOT beyond my capabilities but it FEELS beyond them. Let's face it, showering is more than I can cope with on cripplingly tired days (like today).

I need to exercise, I need to drink more water, I need to stop eating crisps while watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer. My mother goes to Laos (a country near Vietnam and Thailand) for ten days as of tomorrow night which leaves me with primary responsibility for shopping, cooking, cleaning for my nanna and my stepdad. Is that the approaching foghorn of HMS Panic?? Today is the closing date for my Dream Job, so the decision will be made tomorrow or Wednesday. It's clear to me, even clearer as I write this, that my Taken Abed-ness is a direct response to these extra pressures. Once I move into the "Doing: One Step At A Time" phase I know I will gather enough momentum to remain upright for as long as necessary. My mantra is Hope For The Best, Prepare For The Worst.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mental May

From what I can gather, May is going to be a rockin' month for the "mentally interesting". Not only is May "Mental Health Awareness Month", apparently Congress in the USA has also decreed that May be "Borderline Personality Awareness Month". I heard from my friend Jennifer over at BPD in OKC that May 15 has been designated the second Wear Purple for BPD Awareness Day. There's a lot to celebrate!

I am following Jennifer and Wandering Coyote's lead in supporting Chato B. Stewart's Cartoon-a-thon and have donated my $25 in the hope I will be immortalised in a Chato caricature! I think that's just the thing to cheer myself up and to celebrate this great month of Mental May.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Layered, As An Onion

Sometimes it feels like I am shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic (as they say). Or maybe I'm building a particularly precarious matchstick bridge over this raging torrent I call the River Crazy. As I posted yesterday, I constantly question the point of planning, of having ideas and making choices. What if, what if, what if. Nonetheless, I went to an interview yesterday for a job so exqusitively perfect for me it should be framed and hung on the wall in order for it never to tarnish or disappoint. Three days a week - exactly what I think will work best for me financially and logistically. With a not-for-profit organisation, specialising in literacy. Great team of women, laidback office, interesting and varied work. There were 6 of us on the shortlist, and I will find out one way or another by the middle of next week. Don't you just love that expression "one way or another"... such an innocuous way to describe the beginning or the end, the heaven or the hell of things.

Mr Ex took me to the interview, as he is on holidays and a genuinely decent bloke. The office is located a fair way away, but for 3 days a week I can manage the bus trips. Having a lift there and back for the interview was terrific, and we spent a bit of time together afterwards. In a few days it will be one year since I decided I had to put the dying marriage out of its misery, in order to salvage some happiness for Mr Ex (and maybe, myself). I can see he is more himself again, and that rips at me more than anything. I always believed I was a person who added to situations, to people, rather than took away. But although Mr Ex will say I was everything to him, and brought so much to his life, I would be an idiot to not recognise the path I took him on was nothing he would have chosen or imagined for himself. Still, I made the hard choice for both of us when he was too stuck and too afraid to make it, and every piece of serenity he's gained since then reassures me that it was the right thing. For a while, I wondered if he would fight to get me back, or try to convince me we should try again. But a year later, it hurts me to look him full in the face and realise he is scared that I will ask for another chance.

I blamed so many issues for my marriage problems, and told myself I was leaving to pursue a lot of different things for myself. I have achieved none of them, and now I realise that I was telling myself stories of an exciting and passionate life full of truth in order to disguise the facts... I knew a breakdown was coming, and I could not survive it for both of us. I had to know that Mr Ex was relinquished of responsibility this time, so that I could avoid the crippling guilt and the temptation to fake my way out of it. He was, and is, my best friend, even if we were never ideal marriage partners, the friendship is still there. And this year I have been overwhelmingly relieved that his involvement with this breakdown was limited, and that he could get on with his life without the mental wife hiding in the closet.

Being alone is also the only way I will be able to fight my way back from this illness, knowing myself and my behaviour as well as I do. There are so many layers to my Crazy, like an onion I peel back one only to find another and another. There are scary times ahead, as I start to realise some of the truth at the centre of the layers. But this time I can't just put the layers back together hoping no-one will notice the weeping cracks. This is one time when it HAS to be all or nothing.