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


Friday, December 23, 2011

ding dong merrily on high

I wanted to pop in and say g'day and wish all my readers and friends a safe and happy Christmas - and if happiness is too much to ask for, I wish you peace and calm and a nice stiff drink.

Things with me are good, though there's been no positive news on the job front. I've had an interview for a terrific job but have not heard back - apparently things in government departments move very slowly, especially at this time of year. I still live in hope. Meantime, I am plodding away at my data entry job for another hour and then I have 11 days off - hooray!! Once I come back from break I should only have another ten days here before I leave - although my boss wants me to stay on until I find something else.

I'm looking forward to Christmas in some ways, and dreading it in others. The pressure of family and social activity is acute, as we all know, this time of year. I love the food, though, and the presents. My awesome friend H sent me a huge box of presents which I can't wait to open, and there are some others under the tree at home that look interesting. I went overboard shopping for Neil as usual, mostly DVDs, clothes and a laser pointer so he can play with Charly and Roxy the cats. I hope he likes everything I got him.

Because I'm on leave I might not be on the computer so much for the next couple of weeks, but I'll update you when I return. Meantime, take care of yourselves and be well. Thank you for all your support this year, the madosphere means the world to me and all of you in it xxx

Monday, December 5, 2011

what doesn't kill you makes you stronger

I've been applying for new jobs, as this INTERMINABLE contract I'm stuck in finally finishes in January. I started here in March, on a three month data entry job, and am still here nine long, boring, pointless months later. I'm really bad at this job, as I've said here before. Well, not REALLY bad. But not brilliant, which is rare, as I usually over-perform and show off and am the star employee. I just can't get my head around the logistical nature of this data, and sometimes make errors. My boss is really nice but has to point out said errors.


Anyway, one of the outcomes of this dreadful job (apart from the fact that I miss so many days of work due to hating it...) is that my employment mojo is completely gone. I want to stay in government and have been browsing the job sites, but even when I clearly CAN do the job, part of me says "no you can't, you're crap". This is partly due to our old friends depression and low self-esteem, but I think a big part of it is my current experience. I've never been rubbish at a job )-: I am such an over-achiever, perfectionist type that even from school days I've wanted to be the best student/employee as well as the most popular. Until I get bored anyway...

I feel like I am at a major crossroads in my career, where I need to step up and find something challenging and interesting that I can achieve in. That's why I left my last proper job, the part-time one, because I wanted something more. And lord help me, I got trapped here in data entry, leather elbow hell.


I also struggle with applying for government jobs because of the selection criteria. I don't know if they have them in other countries, but in Oz every government job requires you to address a set of attributes, showing how you have that attribute and using examples. Sometimes they're easy like "good communication skills" but other ones are extremely specific and technical and hard to waffle/bluff about.

In other news, I put up our Christmas tree. This is pretty big news, as it's the first time I've done it since I left Mr Ex - and when we were together, HE insisted on doing it and was extremely anal about it, and HATED tinsel. Bah humbug. Needless to say, this year I added tinsel. I used some of my decorations and some of Neil's, so it's a genuine combination tree for our first Christmas living together (-:

All it needs now is some presents underneath, which I am intending to wrap tonight. I'm feeling quite in the mood for Christmas this year, although I will miss the month's vacation that I used to get with my last job! In this job, I get a week off which is nice. The family are spending three days at a resort, with Christmas lunch in a restaurant, so it should be less stressful than previous years. We are spending Boxing Day with Neil's best friends, whom I also adore, which will be great fun. I am trying hard to be positive, and stay motivated. Fight, fight, fight!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


First I was bad. Then I was great. Now I'm just in limbo. And by that I don't mean the fun game played with a broomstick. I mean that awful nothing state, where the slightest push can send me rocketing either way. It's like being on the crest of a rollercoaster and knowing that the plummet to darkness is just a millimetre away. I feel like if I try hard enough I will be able to get the happy place back.

The three day Ignite Your Life course was amazing. It inspired me, and challenged me, and since then I've been feeling more positive and worthwhile and able to change. I've been less depressed, not at all suicidal and had more energy. Until... Until. Until. Until. There's always an "until" isn't there? Or an "and then/but then". I'm so grateful for the two and a half weeks of strength and sanity but WHY does it have to end? Monday morning dawned and my old friend lethargy was back, with apathy and self-loathing not far behind. Of course I could have, and should have, used the strategies I learned in the course to change my mental state and try to motivate myself... Instead I spent the next two days in bed feeling the old depression envelop me. I guess I felt comforted in some way, it's easier to slip back into old patterns than try to develop new ones, right?

I'm frustrated that I am not "cured".

I know that it's impossible, but I still kind of wanted it.

Even though I am the first to tell people you need to work hard at recovery and illness management, in the end I am a lazy SOB who wanted an easy way out.

The teachers I met at Ignite Your Life would say I'm using the mental illness, depression, suicide "game" to try and gain attention, connection with others, and self-worth. They're right, because while I definitely have mental illness, it's my choice how that illness manifests itself and how far I let it take hold of my life. I definitely had a choice Monday morning and I made the choice to remain trapped in the depression cycle.

All I can do now is try to switch my mental state and embrace happy, energising, positive thoughts. Which might be (IS!) tiring, but is certainly within my capabilities. I'll let you know how it goes :-D

Monday, November 7, 2011

the only way to get there is to go straight down

Lately I've been wishing for a BPD episode. Anything to shake up the dank, dreary depression that's threatening to block out the whole world. I remember hypomania with fondness... I miss anger, rage, fury - emotions of any kind - as lately I seem to be a blank/black canvas. I'm barely managing to keep my job, getting to work about two days out of five, spending the rest of my time sleeping. I used to blame my anaemia for the sleeping... but lately I've realised that the iron infusion must have kicked in by now, and therefore depression is probably the cause. If I'm honest, this spell of depression has been creeping up on me for months, starting before I raised my Cymbalta level to 120mg. Changing that medication has done nothing, supporting the research I keep reading about which says doses higher than 60mg are pointless.

I don't get paid for the days I'm having off, so I haven't been able to afford to see Doc A. But I'm making the effort this week, and scraping the cash together, as the situation is getting dire. I know he will suggest starting Lamotrigine, as that was one of his suggestions last time. I don't know why I'm on the fence about Lamotrigine...part of it is the cost, especially now I'm verging on unemployed, and part of it is because it's always been in reserve. For "just in case". If I start using Lamotrigine, what will I have left for next time the medication fails me??? More Lamotrigine I suppose.

I spent another day in hospital last week, having upper and lower gastrointestinal tract exams to check for bleeding. Nothing showed up, so my anaemia is unexplained. The haematologist believes it's related to my weight loss surgery. Regardless of the cause, I am still as light-headed and exhausted as ever. I have the Ignite Your Life course this weekend, Friday to Sunday, and I'm dreading it. I have no idea how I will manage to be upfront, present and awake for all those hours, when I usually spend half the weekend asleep. I'm desperate for some relief from this depression, though, and anecdotal evidence suggests this course can provide it. My parents and brother have done the course, and found it inspiring and energising and claim there were a few people who were previously medicated for depression (unipolar and bipolar) that now no longer need medication. I'm skeptical. And don't intend to give up my medication for anyone/anything. I'm a true believer, even though at the moment it doesn't seem to be doing much for me.

I was talking to my family about this course a couple of weeks ago and confessed that I really don't think the course organisers will have come across anyone as lunatic as me. Anyone as recidivist and recalcitrant. Are they prepared for someone whose only goal in life is to not complete suicide? They sent out this pre-course questionnaire and it had all these questions like "What are you most proud of?", "Name four emotional states you regularly experience", "What are your motivations for doing this course". Even reading the questions made me exhausted and hopeless. "How would you describe yourself" was one, and my immediate answer was "fat, fucked, failure". I can't decide if right now is the best or worst time for Ignite Your Life... most of me, the hopeful part, believes that things happen for the right reasons, and therefore it must be the best time. I really, truly hope to experience some life-altering changes. I can't wait to update you all next week.

I'm sorry I haven't been commenting as much on your blogs as I have in the past. I feel like anything I say will be negative and pointless, so often I will stay silent. But I'm still reading, and I hope everyone who's going through a hard time right now will soon be on an upswing. Lots of love to all xx

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

while your blood counts its losses

It's been a while. Up and down, up and down. I had my iron infusion last Monday, which was terrifically fast service. Unfortunately, it ended up costing me $814 because my private health insurance wouldn't pay (I haven't been with the insurance company for 12 months which is the qualification period). Luckily I have a supportive partner with some cash reserves who could lend me the money! He agreed with me that waiting to qualify under insurance (March next year) wasn't feasible, and we have to get this anaemia fixed asap. So I spent 6 hours in a comfy reclining chair in hospital, in the ward with the chemo patients, being pumped full of iron. Apparently I will start to feel better in 2/3 weeks. I had no side effects to the infusion, which is awesome. They served me lunch and coffee and cake, and I had a television to amuse me as well as my iPhone.

The next day I felt a little under the weather (which is expected after an infusion, you get kind of like a flu with aches and pains - weird, huh?) but decided I would go to work. However, on the way to the bus stop I was attacked by a neighbour's dog who had escaped through the fence. At first it was just growling and barking so I kept walking but then it latched on to my thigh!! OUCH!! Needless to say, I screamed and it backed off. A nice man from another house came out to see if I was okay and I rang Neil (who was on night shift and still sleeping) and the man helped me get back to my street (avoiding the dog which was still lurking). Neil took me to the hospital as there were three puncture wounds and a huge bruise already forming (and that was after being bitten through denim jeans!! Imagine on a baby's face...ugh). They washed it out and bandaged me up, my tetanus shots were up to date so that was that. I couldn't believe it was two says in a row I was in hospital! For the local readers, Hollywood Private Hospital day one, Swan Districts day two!

All up I ended up not going to work for 4 days last week. Here's what the bite wound looked like a couple of days ago...

Admittedly, the bruising wouldn't be quite so impressive if I wasn't anaemic! I was glad the puncture wounds didn't bleed too much after having $814 worth of iron put in there the day before LOL.

My mental state has been quite badly affected by all this. I'm feeling extremely sorry for myself and guilty because the dog ended up being euthenaised (sp?) as the owners wouldn't pay for it to be registered when the Council came to check on it. Neil wants me to get legal advice and pursue a damages claim for lost earnings, and stress, but I just want to put the whole thing behind me. I get a little nervous now when I see loose dogs on the street, even small ones, and I'm worried that the neighbours will do something to retaliate against us. They are already "bad" neighbours in that they are extremely messy with junk all over their lawn and often have shouting matches in the street. The neighbours themselves clearly have no money or insurance but their home is owned by the government and the government department will have public liability insurance we could claim under. But is it worth it for a couple of thousand dollars? The woman has six kids under the age of ten and enough stress already. Sigh.

Anyway, that's my update. I'm having a difficult year!

Post title is from the same Horrible Crowes song as last time, Blood Loss. Thought it was relevant (-:

Monday, October 3, 2011

sirens they come, sirens they go

Post title is from another Horrible Crowes song "Blood Loss".

I had a fantastic time in Melbourne. Since I've been back, however, the darkness has been trying hard to claim me again. I ended up having another week off work after I got back, simply because getting out of bed was too difficult, too painful. I can't decide if what I'm feeling is simple exhaustion, due to the anemia, or the return of depression my old friend/foe. All I know is it's fracking hard to accomplish anything, and days will pass without showering, speaking to anyone except Neil (and then it's just the basic exhange of words), or eating anything apart from caramel biscuits.

Didn't you all LOVE this card from PostSecret this week?

I think this is what's going on for Neil at the moment. He seems to have given up trying to inspire or encourage me to get my arse out of bed and to work. He said to me the other day "I'm scared of pushing you over the edge", and I felt so damn guilty... I'm constantly aware of the fact that he lost his dad and his brother to suicide and that he must worry so much about me. I just can't seem to get motivated enough to get moving.

I have a couple of hopeful moments ahead of me. I see a haematologist tomorrow about my anaemia and he will book me in for an iron tranfusion. This entails being hooked up to an IV for six hours in hospital while I'm pumped full of iron. A couple of people I know swear by these transfusions and I'm praying that I get booked in for one in the next few weeks. Having more physical energy must have a positive effect on my mental pain. The other thing is my parents and my brother are paying for me to do a course entitled "Ignite Your Life" - a three day course in self-development and transformation that the three of them have done in the past, and which they swear will have an amazing effect on my life and attitude. I'm slightly cynical, even though I've seen the difference in them and it's pretty profound. I really hope to gain benefit from the course, and maybe finally have clarity in my path in life. I have a fantastic relationship with Neil, and for that I am eternally grateful, but pretty much everything else in my life is dismal. "Ignite Your Life" runs from November 11 - 13.

I'm sorry I've been absent from this page for so long. It's been hard to know what to say, when all I've been feeling is BLAH. But despite my gloomiest of outlooks, there is still a persistent, hopeful chink of light at the end of this tunnel. And that's what keeps me going, slow and steady.

behold the hurricane

The only saving grace in the darkness of the last few weeks is the album "Elsie" by the Horrible Crowes. Behold the Hurricane is the amazing song/filmclip from the album and I'm going to share it with y'all cause it really spoke to me.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

addicted to a certain kind of sadness

Tomorrow afternoon I leave for my girly weekend with H in Melbourne. I'm really looking forward to:
a) being away from work (and early wakeup calls)
b) seeing H
c) being in Melbourne

I love Melbourne. It's on the other side of Australia from Perth, for those who don't know, and it may as well be a different country in some ways. It's far more "arty" and cosmopolitan, the food is AWESOME and they have trams, which I love. I'm going to be there almost a week.

I'm not looking forward to:
a) being away from Neil (who is going to Cairns, Queensland, for a gambling weekend with his poker buddies)
b) leaving Charly (beloved feline) in the care of the slacker stepson J
c) meeting a lot of H's friends and being super social

Being with H is great, she is a gorgeous girl and understands me and my mental health issues. I'm a bit nervous about her friends, but am hoping they are laidback and not too exhausting. I am worried about my energy levels as they are still really low with the iron deficiency. I guess I will just pace myself and not overdo it. I'll have a lot of time on my own as H is working except for the two weekend days. I have plans to sightsee and shop and maybe get a massage.

I might not be able to blog or visit y'all while I'm away from work for ten days. I will try and check in now and again, partly because I will suffer withdrawal symptoms without it!

My title for today is from my favourite song at the moment - Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know. Great Aussie songwriter.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

spend your time biting your own neck

(Title from Mumford & Sons Little Lion Man)

It's really quite a challenge to separate my other blog, the weight removal one, from this one. I feel like my journey to fitness and healthy eating is directly related to my journey to sanity. Which is, I suppose, why I am consulting mental health specialists to help with curtailing my emotional eating and bingeing. Which is, I suppose, the battle a lot of us face -- the entertwined illnesses of ED and MH, two evil parasites fighting for control over our mind and body.

Rather than talk in weight, I'll tell you, beloved readers, that in six weeks of this health and wellness program I've shifted my BMI from 47 to 43.4. A downward movement which no doubt will improve my health. I'm still morbidly obese (I kind of like that term...because I AM morbid, in the sense that I'm precoccupied with death LOL) but I'm getting healthier. My goal BMI is probably around 29, which is still overweight but suits my build and my physical health I think.

In general, life has been fairly positive for me since I last wrote. I am planning my vacation to visit my best friend H in Melbourne, which takes place Aug 31 - Sept 6. Three weeks tomorrow - yippee! We are going to eat, drink, gossip and fire each other up in our respective life challenges. I got a fairly large tax refund due to my low income earner status, and therefore am fairly comfortable with money just now. Neil and I are planning a trip overseas next year to Singapore and Thailand, which will be frickin AWESOME and gives me something to work towards with my fitness and saving money.

Apart from a couple of shaky moments, my mental health has been strong. I haven't needed to take Valium for weeks, and the 120mg Cymbalta and 100mg Solian seem to be keeping me stable. I do think the healthier eating has made a difference, and the small amount of exercise. I am hoping to increase my exercise. I've been doing a self-hypnosis/meditation CD that my hypnotherapist gave me which is helping me to sleep, and to curb my overeating. My contract at work has been extended for another couple of months, which is both good and bad. I am happy to not have to look for another contract, but the job is rather boring and I have no friends )-: Basically, aside from the polite hello and goodbye, no-one speaks to me all day. On one hand it's low stress and peaceful, but it kind of drives me mad. After all these months I'm getting bored. And boredom is always dangerous for BPDs.

Things at home are lovely. I adore Neil more every day, and if it wasn't for his slacker teenage son everything would be perfect. But I guess every situation has its challenges! Neil has been super-supportive of my health kick, although he still suggests takeaway now and again. I've been having takeaway occasionally, because at least this way I am incorporating all kinds of food rather than avoiding or restricting too much.

I really do believe that my mental state is a rollercoaster, and I happen to be cruising through an "up" phase. But I am enjoying it while it lasts. It's a relief to feel balanced and relatively positive about things.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

dancing with myself

Since I last wrote a few things of note have happened.

1. I went to hospital with what turned out to be a gallbladder attack. I have gallstones, lots of them, and will probably have to have the gallbladder out sometime in the next year. Because of my weight being over 120kg I can only be operated on in the two largest public hospitals in Perth which means an extended time on the waiting list. Or I wait until my private health insurance matures in March 2012. Hopefully I can just avoid another attack. It was the most excrutiating pain. One of my BFs (who has four kids and had her gallbladder out last year) says it's a pain worse than childbirth.

2. Neil and I went out to dinner to celebrate one year together! I had a smallish steak and salad and a cocktail, which didn't interrupt my healthy eating plan too much. So far (almost 3 weeks) I've lost 5kg, which is something to celebrate too.

3. Mood wise, I have been hanging in there. Weirdly, or perhaps not so weird, it seems that eating better has improved my state of mind. Probably the extra dosage of Cymbalta is also working. Needless to say, the suicidal thoughts and desperate jitters have subsided and I haven't needed to take a Valium for a couple of weeks now. Phew. Crisis averted?

4. I saw on Catherine's Marmite on Toast blog that she had a link to her 43 Things. Having wanted to do a "Bucket List" for a while, I took the opportunity to copy the lovely Catherine and do my own 43 Things. You can find it here. Some of the things I intend to do while on this earth are: become a runner, visit South America, learn swing dancing, drink more water and meet Joshua Jackson!!! An eclectic mix LOL.

My apologies for such a dull, pedestrian post. Such is my life just now, and I must say I'm somewhat relieved.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

every tear's a waterfall

I made a momentous decision last week. I decided that enough was enough with regard to my binge eating and weight gain and have re-started my healthy eating and weight removal journey. I feel self-conscious and triggery talking about it, knowing that a number of my friends in the madosphere are dealing with eating disorders and the like. But it had to be done, guys.

Three and a half years ago I paid a LOT of money to have weight loss surgery and while I lost weight (50kg/100 pounds), I've since regained a significant amount. My bingeing is out of control. I am obsessed with junk food. I eat for comfort, boredom, relaxation. These things are not healthy, and I've kind of let them go while I worked on some mental health issues.

Now I'm relatively stable, mentally, I am hoping to find the wherewithall to tackle my eating.

I've restarted my other blog, renaming it Borderline Lil's Losing Weight. Feel free to visit over there or not. I won't be offended!

I am on meal replacement shakes/bars at the moment, which is a medical intervention for obesity and only supposed to be used under supervision. It's a very low calorie (approx 800 cal per day) diet, with the only solid food I'm eating being two cups of low starch vegies per day. So far (this is day six) it's going okay. There's an element of relief...I HATE my addiction to food, my obsessive behaviour towards it, so I'm glad to have the decision making on my meals taken away for now. Reintroducing food, in 12 weeks, will be a challenge I'm sure.

I'm planning to go back for a visit to my weight loss surgeon Gorgeous Jon to see if I need revision of my surgery, or how he can help me otherwise.

I'm fairly certain I have stretched out my reduced stomach, and whether this can be fixed or not, I've no idea. The meal replacement diet will help that, I hope. And I have completely removed junk food and takeaway from my life for now, even though in the end I hope to occasionally be able to enjoy it without going to extremes.

I have also made an appointment with a binge eating specialist, who does hypnotherapy and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). I've ordered a binge eating book from the internet which is recommended by a lot of doctors and pdocs - it's based in CBT and has a complete programme that goes with it.

What's funny is that I KNOW THIS IS BPD-esque ALL OR NOTHING THINKING!!! But I've decided to USE the all or nothing extreme behaviour in my favour for once, and do something proactive. I'm trying to positively channel my obsessiveness into weight loss and healthy eating.

This is just an update, and I don't imagine I will talk much on this blog about the health plan. I am conscious of my ED friends and their issues, and would never want to negatively affect them/you. But I wanted to share this big change with my friends! And I hope you will all wish me luck (-:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Pixie-Love

Hope your day is special like you. Thank you for your friendship xx

Monday, June 27, 2011

pictures of you

My new profile pic was taken at Roller Derby on the 18th of June. I made some streamers from crepe paper for my team The Bloody Sundaes (who won by one point - yay!).

This is a picture of me and my sweetie taken in Melbourne earlier this year.

Happy Belated US Father's Day. Our Father's Day is celebrated in September, I have no idea why! Here are Neil and Charly sharing a kiss (-:

Just felt like sharing those with you all. In other news, my mood is still low. This morning I did not want to go to work, was dreading it, and all the way here on the bus and train I was thinking about getting off, going to a bottle shop (off-licence) and buying a litre bottle of vodka and then lying down in a park or cemetery somewhere. My bus passes a nice cemetery. It's lush and green and has lots of those very old headstones with the worn-off writing. It looks peaceful in there.

I have two reasons for NOT adding Lamogitrine/Lamictal to my medicinal regime. One, I know it's expensive as it's not on the PBS except if you need it for epilepsy. Recently I found out Sairs from This Lunatic Express is stopping taking it because it's so expensive. SO frustrating when medicine we need is not subsidised by the government. My second reason is that I want to keep Lamictal "up my sleeve" for the next time Cymbalta poops out and stops working. If I start Lamictal now, then what will happen to me in six, twelve months time when I need extra meds??

But I am wondering if the extra Cymbalta is making much difference. I feel perhaps 20% better some of the time. Maybe I just need to give it more time. It's been what...two weeks? Three? I think I need to keep going with it for at least six weeks in order to get the full benefit of the increase. I need to work harder with my thought processes to calm myself and control my impulses.

A good thing that happened last week was my birthday presents from my bestie H arrived from Melbourne. They are awesome!! She sent me this hilarious book called The Action Heroine's handbook, which shows you how to wrestle a man with your bare legs, jump out of a moving train, make molotov cocktails and lots more action heroine stuff. It's great. Another book she sent me is a travel guide for Bangkok as Neil and I are planning a trip to Thailand next November. The parcel included a Hello Kitty furry beanie, Barbie stationery, Bio Oil, a Buddha and heaps more. She is definitely my favourite gift giver! H recently started a blog, by the way, called For The Good, The Bad & The Fugly. Her blogger name is Rainbow B and you should check it out. She's not quite as mental as me and probably will swear more because I try not to in blogland (even though I am a potty mouth in real life).

I went out to the movies last night with my ex-housemate and another one of my BFFs (I have three), Michelle. We saw Bridesmaids and cacked ourselves laughing. It was really funny, and a little crass, and had an adorably cute guy in it. Which always helps! I am incredibly lucky to have my three real-life besties. I thank the universe for them every day. Especially H and Michelle, who both know what it's like to suffer from depression and anxiety. I also adore my blogworld friends, who get me and know me just as well but in different ways. H and I are real-life friends now, but we met in blog world through a Dr Phil website in 2005. So you never know where our awesome blog friendships will end up! I am hoping some day to get to the US/Canada and UK to meet some of my blog pals. And over to the eastern states of Australia to meet up with Sairs and Bec and Miz PRN!

Friday, June 17, 2011

always the young to fall

Thanks to Linda, the lovely owner of the blog Blue Skies, Coudy Days, and clever Pixie from Cloud Illusions, politics has been on my mind. I'm not one for soap boxing, or discussing politics at all really. I tend to agree with Linda, who says that politics these days is about "lies and greed", but I also agree with her comment that veterans deserve respect and admiration for their sacrifice and bravery. It seems that now, even more than in the Vietnam Era, pointless and foolish conflicts are taking lives all over the world. Australians, along with people, mostly young people, from other countries. have recently lost their lives in Afghanistan.

After hearing the Buffy Sainte-Marie song at Linda's blog I was inspired to share my own protest song from the same 1960s era - I Ain't Marching Anymore by Phil Ochs. Phil's basic premise in this song is that if we all say "No" when asked to go to war, then there can be no war. Unfortunately, there are enough poor, disenfranchised, aimless, patriotic and aggressive souls out there at the moment to keep war going...

The way I fell in love with Phil Ochs was through my former love and soulmate I. Oliver. Once I learnt more about Phil I cared for his music even more. He was a prolific and passionate singer songwriter who fell into mental disarray in the 1970s. An alcoholic, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Phil eventually committed suicide in 1976 when I was six years old - many years before my American boyfriend introduced me to him on an old eight track of his dad's.

Thanks Linda (and the original post at Blog Fodder) for reminding me about protest, sacrifice, and the potential we humans have for changing the world. To quote Linda : Those of us who still believe in social justice, freedom, and caring for our fellow beings around the world, can still come together and change things.

Power to the people indeed.

ain't nobody who can sing like me

The improvement is slight but it's definite. A few days ago I started taking my Cymbalta at night instead of when I wake up, as I thought it might help with the early morning moodiness. Although my sleep has suffered, and I wake up more easily through the night and don't feel as "rested", there seems to be a marked difference in my morning attitude. Whether this is just because the increase to 120mg has started to work (Doc A said it would take a week to feel 10% better), who knows, but I'm grateful for the improvement. I don't feel the dragging, energy-sapping dread upon waking. I'm almost "perky". Well...almost!! I'm planning to continue the evening dose as long as I don't start waking up early (pre 6.30am), start to feel extra tired during the day, or get manic. I'm still averaging seven or eight hours of sleep a night which is less than I usually need but still plenty.

The last couple of days have seen the suicidal thoughts almost disappear. I can't describe what a relief that is, and anyone who has been there will know exactly what I mean. Part of the relief is that I now feel enthusiastic about my upcoming birthday (Sunday 19th). We have some great plans, so I was feeling very depressed about being depressed (LOL). Now, for the first time in quite a few weeks, I feel life coming back into my heart and mind and excitement starting to build. Hooray for turning 41! I have to say, so far being in my 40s has been wonderful (-: Meeting Neil was one of the best things to ever happen to me, and I'm so thankful he has put up with me and continued to be calm and stable and love me through this last bleak episode. I guess it really is true love!

My plans for my birthday are as follows: Saturday night we are going out to watch a Roller Derby bout with some of Neil's friends from work. Then the two of us will go on to a strip club, just for a laugh and to hopefully get in the mood for some hijinks in the bedroom *blush*. We've been to this particular club before and enjoyed some lapdancing; Neil loves the fact that I am openminded and keen on this kind of thing. The girls there are really nice and sweet, and are always extra friendly to women. On Sunday we are going out to the movies to see Super 8 (even though I am petrified of aliens and I think this movie is about aliens!!) and then out for a pizza dinner with my parents. Monday night I am going out with Michelle to see Bridesmaids, which I can't wait to see. I've heard so many good things about it! So all in all I think the next few days are going to be super fun. One of the things I love most about my birthday is my friend H always sends me the BEST presents. Well, last year she was visiting so she gave them to me in person, but as she lives in a different state she usually posts them and isn't it fun to get packages in the mail?? I LOVE it. We are both into the same girly, selfhelp, pink, Barbie, princessy type things so I always love her presents. She spoils me rotten.

I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but thank you SO MUCH to everyone who commented on the last few posts. I hadn't realised that I was having some BPD issues with Neil until your comments pointed it out, so massive thanks. Big hugs to my darling Kate (Lucid Intervals), BPDisme2, Shattered One (Walking the Borderline), Afton (In the Pink), Pixie (Cloud Illusions), Saracide (Borderline Psychobabble), Sairs (This Lunatic Express), Linda (Blue Skies, Cloudy Days), D'Artagnan (Living in Iowa), and a smiley welcome to Lola (Moose Lips Sink Ships) and

I really love Billy Bragg, and he recorded a great song with the band Wilco called Way Over Yonder in The Minor Key (previous post title). The second line to the chorus is "ain't nobody who can sing like me", hence the title for today. The song was used nicely in the recent rom com movie Love and Other Drugs, which starred the gorgeous Anne Hathaway. Did anyone see the film? I thought the themes were interesting, especially how much time, money and energy went into finding a successful drug to "cure" male impotence compared to drugs to cure Parkinsons Disease (and also, I believe, to find cures for illnesses like depression, and other girly things like PMT haha).

That's all from me for now, and I can't help but be hopeful that my positive mood lasts and that the next post will be just as sparkly. Wishing you all love, happiness and peace xx

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

way over yonder in the minor key

Struggle aplenty, I continue to fight for air. Yesterday was diabolical from the minute I woke up, with panic constricting head and heart. It took me an hour extra to get ready for work and actually go. Stomach was heaving and roiling, hands shaking. What if something happens to me on the way to work...what if it doesn't...

All the while Neil was kind and supportive and trying so damn hard. I wanted to hit him with the bedside lamp. I wanted to scream at him "This is all your fault, if you didn't have such a tragic history with suicide I could just kill myself already!"

Instead I said to him, semi-rational: "We should break up, you deserve better, you deserve someone normal and balanced who doesn't worry you." He made all the right noises, told me he adores me the way I am and admires me for coping so well most of the time. But who knows if we'll actually get through this dark time. He loves me, of course he loves me, but's a fucking joke. It's not enough ammunition against BPD and depression, and I should know because I already lost one man who loved me against the odds. Mr Ex worshipped me, and tried his damnedest, but in the end the illness maimed and claimed the relationship and then stood laughing in the wreckage.

I am trying to calm my mind with meditative thoughts and to ease the nausea and shaking with breathing exercises. It feels somewhat like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. I am trying to be confident that the Cymbalta will kick in...soon...any minute now...

Friday, June 10, 2011

born to try

Updating on yesterday's post, I'm feeling slightly stronger. I laid it all on the line to Doc A and he was angry I hadn't let him know sooner. I told him I struggle with my identity in therapy - for instance, he often tells me I am the "perfect" patient, or a "good" patient, and I hate to let him down and lose that validation. I don't want to admit to him that I am suffering suicidal thoughts, or languishing in the doldrums. It's really stupid. Honesty is the cornerstone of therapy, after all, so I'm accomplishing nothing by lying or avoiding the truth.

Anyway, after asking a lot of questions about potential triggers and behaviours, Doc A decided that this latest slump of mine is not BPD related, and in fact is "simple" biological depression. So the solution is medication tweaking - I am testing out 120mg of Cymbalta daily for the next week and if that has no effect I have a prescription for Lamotrigine/Lamictal. Which I would take in addition to the Cymbalta. I feel kind of trendy, even being considered for Lamotrigine, because I know a few other bloggers who take it and it seems to be quite successful. Apparently there is a well-known side effect of "Lamotrigine rash", and if that occurs I have to stop taking it. I'm hoping that the extra Cymbalta does the trick, because that way I have the Lamotrigine in reserve for any future episodes. It truly sucks the way that medication "poops out" (Doc A says this is the technical term LOL) and our brain chemistry works its way around our meds. I wish it was as simple as finding one medication and sticking to it for the rest of my life. I know I'm not alone, but in the last seven years I've taken eight different anti-depressants and an anti-psychotic. Apart from the meds, I've also tried Kava, St John's Wort and Valerian. Then when you add to that the hypnotherapy, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, naturopathy, etc, it's all a little overwhelming. I know y'all can relate!!

I ended up telling Neil about my suicidal thoughts; even though I knew it would worry him I couldn't keep lying. I'm pathologically honest these days after The Marriage That Truth Forgot. He was concerned, and interested in what Doc A had to say, and ultimately said he was happy I had confided in him. We're both confident that the extra medication will help level out my moods.

In other health news, I have an appointment with Dr Paul (my lupus specialist) on June 29th and am on the waiting lists at three hospitals for my gastroscopy/colonoscopy to check for ulcers/polyps/etc. I've been on iron supplements for a couple of weeks and I feel slightly less tired (which could be the caffiene tablets I'm taking!) and breathless. I feel like my health, both mental and physical, is a waiting game at the moment. Just need to be patient and see how it pans out... Need I point out that patience is NOT one of my virtues (-:

Thank you so much to everyone who commented on yesterday's post, and to Linda who posted a great song on her blog for me. It means so much that people are listening and understanding xx

(NB: Born To Try is a song by an Aussie called Delta Goodrem, who I believe appeared on the US version of Dancing With The Stars recently.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

down among the dead men

Sometimes it's a hard life. I'm really struggling today, and had to take not one but two Valium in order to calm myself down enough to stay at work. All I could think about was running away. Pills, alcohol, car accidents, suicide, hospitals. Now, in the deadened calm of the diazepam, I just feel hollow and numb. Relief. I've been listening to some comedy TV shows on my iPhone to try and penetrate the gloom. Thankfully, I have my monthly appointment with Doc A this afternoon so am leaving work an hour early. I'm going to ask for more Valium (he reluctantly gave me a 20 tablet script last month which I haven't used yet but I'm worried I am going to need more). I'm wondering if he'll offer me more Cymbalta, as I'm on 90mg daily and there's evidence a higher dose might work better. I think I need a referral to a psychologist to work more intensely on CBT.

The suicidal ideation and self-harm is a real concern for me. It's been getting worse over the last few weeks. The other day I gathered all the pills in the house (and there are a lot, as Neil's mum gives us packets of her prescription-only high strength pain medication - don't ask me why!) and seriously considered taking them. I wanted to sleep forever, or end up away from everything in hospital. I'm annoyed with myself for the urge to run away. In the end, I could not do that to Neil. His dad gassed himself in the family car when Neil was in his 20s and ten years later his brother eventually hung himself after a few attempted overdoses. When he finally succeeded, it was Neil who went around to the house and found his brother's body. I just can't do that to him again. He deserves better than me. I wish I was healthy for him as well as for me.

I wonder what he must really think of me, now that we live together and he sees my daily struggle. Struggle to get out of bed, wash, dress, go to work, cook, clean, converse... Do I remind him of his dead brother, weak father, depressed mother... Does he compare me to his previous crackpot girlfriends... I don't doubt he loves me, but I worry sometimes how easy it is for pity to creep in.

Flash 'n the Pan had a hit in 1978 with a song by the same title as this post.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

all the small things

Here's a Cat Versus Human comic I had to share, as it emphasises to me why a lot of us mentally interesting folk love our kittehs and goggies (dogs for those of you unfamiliar with LOLcat lingo!).

My cat Charly is usually in two minds about my depression. She HATES me crying and sniffling but she loves to lay in bed with me for hours. Regardless, there is no doubt she makes me feel better most of the time. For this one of her middle names is "Prozac" (full name Charly Louise Feral Beryl Prozac S). I know I'm not alone, as I've read other bloggers comments on their pets and how beneficial they are to our mental health.

This is one of those "Gratitude" posts I'm trying out, and at the top of my list of things to be thankful for is animals -particularly cats. Here's some other stuff to be going on with...


1. Animals, esp cats. And especially those viral videos I get sent like the one with the owl and the kitten playing, and the mama cat comforting the kitten who had a nightmare. Could those things get any cuter???

2. Buffy. We finished our seven season marathon, and as always I cried at the end. The girl power, all women are slayers, theme is just awesome. I wish I was as kick arse as Buffy and Willow!

3. Movies. My favourite past-time. I saw X Men First Class and it rocked!! Though disappointing that the female mutants were evil )-: I like Storm from the other movies, but she didn't make an appearance.

4. Neil. I'm the luckiest woman in the world, I swear. He is patient and kind and decent. And a hunk of spunk (Aussie slang for a hottie LOL).

5. No Doz (caffiene tablets). Thank you for keeping me alert and awake at work!!

6. Roller Derby. It's brilliant! We're going again on the day before my birthday - 18 June. Great present, huh?! Those women are so tough and cool!

7. My boss Jan (he's a man, it's pronounced "Yarn" - Polish origin). Even though I have had so many sick days lately, he's supportive and understanding. I never worry about calling him, I know he'll be ok and not make me feel guilty or lazy. He doesn't know about the mental illness, but I believe he would be okay with that too.

8. The Madosphere. I love my blogger friends, and learn new things and feel new things every day from your terrific writing. Keep it up guys!

I have some challenges in my life at the moment (having the flu on top of lupus, anaemia, etc, is not fun) but I'm glad I took the time to note some positives. I think I should write down some of this stuff and read it every morning when I wake up, because it's getting harder and harder to motivate myself to get the hell out of bed. Brain = fizzy, body = shaky but I am still fighting y'all!

Repost - Buddhism for the Mentally Interesting

This post comes from This Compassionate Life, which is an excellent blog I recently came across via Bec's blog at me plus bipolar. I consider myself a Buddhist believer, even though I'm not practising. My mum and brother are both followers of the Mahayana Tibetan tradition so there's a lot of Buddhist thought and conversation when we all get together. I really liked this post, as it's simple and straight forward but contains a lot of good information. Here is an excerpt for those interested in Buddhism and how it might relate to mental illness, and please go and visit This Compassionate Life for even more interesting info...

Buddhism for the Mentally Interesting
This is part 2 of the post that began with
Meditation for the Mentally Interesting a couple of weeks ago. Meditation in the Buddhist tradition, while eye-opening and supremely useful, is only one part of what Buddhism is all about. I dither about whether to call myself a Buddhist on a daily basis- some people say you need to believe in rebirth & karma to be a Buddhist, some people say you need to practice with a teacher- I don’t fit into either category. Either way, though, the fundamental concepts of Buddhism resonate deeply with me, and have been instrumental in shaping both my worldview and how I approach mental health and mental ill health. Here are the Buddhist ideas that have made the biggest impression on me from a mentalist point of view:

The Four Noble Truths
The Buddha’s basic teaching is summarized in what is known as the Four Noble Truths, which are:
1. Life is suffering (dukkha in Pali- suffering is only a loose translation)
2. The origin of suffering is craving (attachment to desires)
3. Suffering ends when craving ceases
4. Freedom from suffering can be attained by following the Eightfold Path (acquiring wisdom, practicing ethical conduct & training in mental development through right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness & right concentration)

That really is Buddhism in a nutshell- these four statements are layered in complexities, but they are also very simple. It seems obvious to me now that everybody suffers, no matter how healthy they are, how much money they have, how isolated or how loved they feel. As long as people cling to wanting more, wanting less or burying their heads in the sand (more on those three things later on), there is always going to be dukkha- ranging from the feeling that something’s not quite right to immense emotional suffering on both an individual and societal scale. My personal level of dukkha is on the more extreme end of that continuum, but emotional disorder or not, we’re all on there somewhere....
...As I understand it, the concept of what is known as Buddha nature comes from Mahayana Buddhism (which is the branch of Buddhism that the Zen and Tibetan traditions sprang from.) In my opinion, for someone who struggles deeply with their mental health, it’s one of the most powerful Buddhist concepts because the idea is that everyone has the capacity to become awakened, to become a Buddha. To deeply see the nature of reality and have the poisons of craving, aversion and delusion fall away. Everyone can be free. And what’s more, you don’t have to change yourself in any way to do this- your true nature is already there, just waiting for you to wake up to it. If you want to try to think of it in Western terms- everyone is basically good.

Just think about that for a second, what that would mean. The idea of Buddha nature is so different to what is pervasive in our culture, informed as it is by the Christian concept of original sin; and it is, of course, so different to what my emotional brain regularly tells me about myself- that I’m a horrible, evil person, intrinsically bad, intrinsically broken. But Buddhism invites me not just to believe, but to experience the reality of my true nature for myself- as a constantly changing stream of life. There is nothing there for labels like ‘evil’ or ‘bad’ to cling to. There is just life; pure, unadulterated life. Experiencing life, really living in every moment, is the essence of Buddhism. That is why I practice.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mad Cow

I wrote a post yesterday which I then deleted. It's the first time I've done that, and some of you have asked about the missing entry. I guess it was clear from the couple of lines you could read that it was a low-mood mopey post, and those reading regularly will know anyway that I've been somewhat under the weather.

Once I'd written the post, I published it and then went to read it over for editing. Put simply, it sucked. It whined on about how attached I am to being ill, and how I feel envious of my blog friends who are currently "worse off" than me (with regards to ED, or being in hospital, etc). Utter crap, something I felt for a minute and then pretty much "got over". One thing I've learnt about myself is that I don't need to give voice to every thought and feeling I have. Some of them just aren't worth the air time. And that's what was going on yesterday. Even if I am feeling low, intellectually I know that I am okay and surviving, and I don't want to be in the grips of a fullblown BPD attack or major depression. I feel extremely sympathetic for my friends who have recently suffered relapses.

Today, I'm mostly just tired and lethargic. But, contrary to what was said in my previous/deleted post, I am not too tired to keep fighting. If fighting the good fight is all there is, then so be it. What are the alternatives? None.

Friday, May 20, 2011

who will sing me to sleep

My gorgeous friend Pixie (she of the wicked blog Clouds and Illusions) introduced me recently to Kate Rusby, an amazing Yorkshire lass with a voice like an angel. The title of my second post of the day (unheard of!) is from her song "Who Will Sing me Lullabies". Almost as lovely a voice as Ms Pixie herself!

As lots of folk are, I'm preoccupied with death. I'm not sure if that's a result of, or a cause of, suicide attempts, but I tend to think it's linked. I also had a near death/out of body experience when I was 7 years old. I don't think it's healthy, to think about death and dying as much as I do... I realised the other day that my job is not helping me to change that focus. What I do each day is watch video of major roads in the state, and assess each road for hazards that may result in fatal car accidents. Basically I watch as a tree passes and decide "yes, that may kill someone if they crash into it". Then I record it on a spreadsheet. So my whole day is filled with thoughts and decisions about fatal car accidents. Death. I also have to make a record of roadside memorials. I guess they are all over the world? Where a family sets up a cross and shrine to mark where a family member (or members) have lost their lives in an accident? Cheerful work. NOT! No wonder I am morbid and preoccupied with death. No wonder I am afraid to get my drivers licence!

All the doctor talk about bleeding, ulcers, polyps and tumors doesn't help either. I realised today that I've never told my parents or Neil what song I want played at my funeral. Have I reiterated that I want to be an organ donor?? Have I told them I want to be cremated???

I thought I'd ask you guys what song you most want played at your funeral, if you've considered it. I think most of us have at some stage or another. My song is Moby's "We Are All Made of Stars".

like playing solitaire in a cyclone

Sick, sick, sick.
Tired, tired, tired.

After three weeks of 100% attendance, I had yesterday off work. Just could not go. I know I don't need to explain this to anyone from the madosphere. Anxiety, depression, anger, self-injury, self-inflicted post-binge comedown...we've experienced it all, eh?? And there are any number of reasons to go back to bed and pull the covers up over our heads rather than get up and go to work. Sigh. I'm just so damnably SICK of being sick, physically and mentally. I'm completely over it. I sometimes look at people I know who have strong work ethics, positive attitudes and iron-clad constitutions and I just want to kill them!! Jealousy is overwhelming. I want to be really well, not just a little bit, copingly well. I want to have true energy, not fake caffiene-induced bursts of effort.

All this whinging does nothing, so I shall stop it. I went to see my doctor on Monday after work and he showed me the results of the blood tests, which aren't good. Not only am I in all likelihood suffering from a lupus flare, I am also extremely anaemic and possibly bleeding internally (therefore causing the anaemia) from an ulcer or bowel polyp. Polyp is such a funny little word. Anyway, I have to have a gastroscopy and colonoscopy, but can't get bookings for them until late July (and that's in the private health system). So I just have to wait, and take massive amounts of vitamins and minerals in the meantime hoping to raise my iron levels. I will see my rheumatologist Dr Paul sometime in the next couple of months to update him on this latest information and see if he has any insight. A couple of other areas of the blood count were abnormal too, in ways that can represent a lupus flare.

In some ways, lupus reminds me of Borderline Personality Disorder. It tucks itself away, hidden somewhere deep inside so that you think you have it licked. Then when you relax, pat yourself on the back and congratulations for a job well done then BAM! It comes back full force, and makes a total fool of you. I can fight it, and strategise against it (immunosuppressant, anti-psychotic, NSAID, anti-depressant, mind/body medicine, DBT, CBT, therapy, meditation, rest, blah blah) but in the end, it never, ever, ever goes away. Not permanently. Not for any length of time. Just long enough so that you take your eye off it for a second, and thus give it chance to take over again. I'm just so damn tired of having to be VIGILANT.

Yesterday's "mental health day" off work was made marginally better by the arrival of a fantastic parcel of zines I bought from Sarah at This Lunatic Express. I think most of my followers also check in over there, but for anyone who doesn't know Sarah, she's a great writer and has experienced a lot. Her zines cover all aspects of her eating disorder, BPD, bipolar, anxiety, hospitalisations and more. Reading them made me admire her even more, she is brave and honest and I need a kick up the ass for feeling so sorry for myself when people like Sarah have a lot more to deal with than me. Get her zines, people. Read them. She rocks.

This morning I got up and showered and dressed, then laid back down in bed. "I can't go today, honey" I said to Neil. He hugged me and said "You need to go to work, babe. You need to try, even if you come home during the day if you feel bad." I didn't know whether to slit his throat or hug him back. "Otherwise, it just gets too easy to say "I can't" and no longer try," he continued. Hating him, loving him, knowing he was right, I got up and went to work. He's right. For me, it does get easier the longer I avoid things. And I need to work. Financially I just can't afford to go back to the way things were unless it's completely 100% unavoidable. Today it wasn't 100%. Tomorrow, who knows...

(Title from Darren Hanlon's song "People Who Wave At Trains". I like to wave at trains, by the way. Not local, public transport trains, but definitely long distance holiday-maker trains. When I travelled across the US on Amtrak trains I loved waving out the window to the little kids who waved to me. Good times.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

is this a hickey or a bruise???

I'm completely in love with Katy Perry's new song "Last Friday Night", which is where the title of today's post comes from. One of the other things I love most about the gorgeous Katy is this..

I want, I want, I want! Her new perfume is just the bomb. Luckily my birthday is next month and I've been dropping major hints to Neil haha.

While on the subject of cats, I totally love the new comic from Yasmin at Cat Versus Human:

This is EXACTLY how my friends react to my cat-fluff-laden house and clothes. But what can I say, I love Charly to pieces and if she wants to sit on my best sweater or sleep on my pillows, she is more than welcome! Thank heaven I found a man who loves animals just as much as I do!

Things with me are going okay. Still exhuasted and nauseous, I have an appointment with my GP this afternoon to find out the results of my blood tests. Am going to get an appointment with Dr Paul, my lupus specialist, in the next month or so (hopefully) to see if this is a lupus flare or something else. I had a great weekend, though, mainly because of the Eurovision Song Contest, which regular readers will remember me raving about last year. I just love it, lots of Australians watch it each year even though we're clearly NOT part of Europe LOL. It's kitsch, quirky and in bad taste sometimes, but some of the music is awesome and I love learning bits and pieces about other countries. This year's winner was Azerbaijan, who were one of my top 5 acts. Neil looked up Azerbaijan on wikipedia after the win and we learnt all about their independence from the former USSR, and that the capital is Baku and the population is approx 9 million. It's a Muslim country, and they were the first Muslim country to initiate voting for women (in around 1918, so years before the US or UK!). We're such a romantic couple, laying in bed googling hahahahaha.

Thanks for everyone's support over the last few low-mood posts. I'm so grateful for this blog, and the blogs of my friends, which help keep me moderately sane! I'm also grateful for my readers, of whom I now have 103!! Thank you for reading, commenting, emailing (-:

Things I love just now...

* Cats

* Neil

* Coffee

* Blogs

* Survivor's Boston Rob - bless his heart xx

* Adele's CDs 19 and 21 (anyone who hasn't heard her, look for her Brit Music Awards performance on youtube, it's just amazing)

* Buffy

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

how many times could you have blown a kiss...

...but instead you swung your fist? My favourite band at the moment are The View, and that line is from their song "Beautiful". I like that line because it sums up how much of life is choice, and how much choice affects our self-esteem. I am trying to be more positive this week, in an attempt to re-wire my mind/body connection and perhaps feel healthier. Wish me luck!

In the spirit of such things, I am copying some of my favourite bloggers (Sarah at This Lunatic Express and D'Arty at Living In Iowa as well as the fabulous Wandering Coyote) and writing a post about the positive things in my life. It may end up being short haha! But it's something I don't "do", and should. I am grateful for a lot, and need to focus on that rather than feeling sorry for myself. So here goes.

  • My relationship with my angel Neil is healthy, and happy, and he's a damn fine bloke. I'm lucky!

  • Biological Family continues to be a positive experience, after many years of the opposite. My mum is finally in therapy, which is great for her but also the rest of us (-:

  • We recently got a new addition to the family, Roxy - an 18 month old cat who belongs to Neil's son Jarrad but is equally loved by all of us. Except my cat Charly, who is not one to play well with others... Here's Roxy...

  • My ten pin bowling team No Deal are placed second in our league, and considering we are an all-girl team that's pretty awesome! Traditionally men bowl better than women, apparently. Blah.

  • Michelle (my former housemate) and I have tickets to the Roller Derby on May 21st which will be freakin' wicked!!

  • I no longer have to take valium regularly to survive work, even though I'm working fulltime. It's a fairly dull job, but worthwhile, and I'm left alone doing it. It's quiet and low stress.

  • I have an appointment with Doctor Graeme, my lovely GP, on Friday and will be able to organise some blood tests and a referral to my Immunologist Doctor Paul. Steps towards better health!

  • I am incredibly fortunate to have support from this madosphere, the mental health bloggers, who are terrific and wise and funny and brave. Thank you!

I have to admit, I feel happier for having made that list. It cancels out all the worries and stresses I normally have on my mind. Maybe I will have to make it a regular thing. Neil and I are currently in the midst of a Buffy The Vampire Slayer marathon, after seeing the original movie on television a couple of weeks ago. I have all the DVDs (and Angel). My latest saying has become "What Would Buffy Do??" when I get negative. While I'm not planning on taking up staking or kick boxing, having an attitude of strength and survival is all-too-important.

Monday, May 2, 2011

we wear our bruises like watermarks

Thank you so much to be darling friends for your comments previously. I wish I could say things have improved. They are made markedly worse, at the least complicated, by the re-appearance of my lupus in a hideous whole body flare that threatens to render me inert. (FYI - Lupus, or Systemic Lupus Eurythematosus is an autoimmune disorder, whereby the body's immune system attacks itself, eg: organs, joints, skin, rather than attacking external threats like bacteria or viruses. It's usually hereditary and incurable).

I'm not foolish enough to gloss over the connection...mind/body medicine is one of the things that cured my fibromyalgia (kind of similar to chronic fatigue and sometimes connected with lupus) and helped control my lupus, so I know that what I think and feel is reflected in my physical wellbeing. The fact that I've been struggling with some emotional issues has left me fatigued and rundown, and a perfect target for a lupus flare. So far it has shown up as joint pain (particularly my hands and right knee), constant nausea and neck pain. I'm lucky, in that my degree of lupus is very mild (so far). I am medicated for it, which helps, and thus far my autoimmune system hasn't attacked any serious organs. I know people who have kidney and liver or heart disease from lupus, and people who have lost eyesight and mobility. My paternal grandmother died because of it.

Anyway. I am now feeling even sorrier for myself, and struggling even more to maintain a positive outlook. I am even tireder than I was when my problems were "just" mental/emotional. The way I beat fibromyalgia and controlled my lupus in 2005 when I was first diagnosed was through fairly strict mind/body medicine - predominantly meditation and diet, as well as the medication.

I just don't think I have the energy it will take to get well again.

Last time I was ill, my mental state was strong, I was in (what seemed then to be) a supportive marriage, I was barely working in a casual job. Basically, I had a lot in the positives column. seems like things were just starting to take shape for me in my new work/home, and BANG, life throws me a curve ball. Ain't it always the way.

Neil is even more concerned than before, now I'm even more bedridden and exhausted and complaining. I have to make an appointment to see my specialist and find out if my medication needs changing. There really is only one medication for lupus (Plaquenil) but maybe I need more, or something new might have become available. I was so complacent and cocky... I thought I had the lupus whipped.

My mental state has kind of taken a back seat at the moment. I'm feeling okay, coping mostly with work and getting on well with my adorable man. Big picture is kind of blurry. Finer points are kind of rough round the edges. I haven't felt BPD-ish for quite some time, which is mostly (I think) due to the basic CBT/DBT I have ingrained in me, as well as the medication and a strong relationship based on honesty and boundaries. But the scary part is, I feel like I may be slowly unravelling. If I have lost control of my physical health, is my mind the next thing to go??

Title from Perth band Birds of Tokyo's song "Plans".

Monday, April 18, 2011

fear is the heart of love

So much has changed over the last six weeks. Left my job, got a new one. Left my house, got a new one. Left my independent life, became a live-in girlfriend. Not all of it's been easy. In fact, most of it has been fracking hard. I feel like I'm treading water, waiting for my feet to be able to touch bottom, but all there is down there is a vast, terrifying, murky depth. Honestly, I don't know how long I can keep my head above water. Being mad is all very well when you live alone and work only three days a week. There's a lot of time leftover for retreating to bed with the sheets pulled up over my throbbing, pounding, naysaying head. These days I have to be awake, showered, dressed (and not just in sweat pants or a sarong) and ready to face the world by 6.45am. Neil asks me if I have had breakfast (puke at the thought), made lunch (ditto), tells me to have a great day. Without fail, I spend the entire hour and a half journey to work thinking how I can get out of going, or how I can be well enough to not be in one of the hospitals I pass, or what food I can binge on or junk I can purchase to cheer myself up. I am no sicker than before this all began. Mostly, I manage to feel "normal" and complete a day's work. But there's no doubt that the extra social pressure takes its toll. For most of the weekend I collapse thankfully into sleep or junk-TV watching. I eat entire packets of chocolate biscuits then berate myself for being so fat, lazy, unmotivated, hideous, ill, ill, ill. Neil asks me, fearfully, if I've taken my medication. Yes, yes, yes, but I am still mad, you see. The medication takes the sharp edges off but you can still be hurt by the blunt ones. My things arrived at Neil's two weeks ago and are still half-packed. I don't have enough cupboard space for my clothes, pantry room for my food, bookshelves for my books. My belongings randomly overflow out of boxes like the disjointed conversations I have with people at work. Nothing makes sense, there's no rhyme nor reason, no place for my Big Ole Crazy to be. I miss having space. I miss having peace and quiet and nothingness. It was easier to convince people I was okay when I didn't actually have to see them. I don't know if I can do this. But I am still here, trying. Title post from Death Cab For Cutie's "I Will Follow You Into The Dark"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

do you know the one where we all live happily

Hi everyone! I'm so sorry I've been away from the blogosphere, and crikey I have missed you all )-: Contrary to how I sometimes feel these days, I'm surviving and occasionally thriving. Went back to work fulltime two weeks ago and jeez it's been tough. I miss my four day weekends. I miss having a lazy ass job where I was able to write and check blogs every day. But, I am looking forward to my first pay cheque next week and to having enough money to start repaying my parents for all their financial support since my last breakdown in 2009.

I have a job working for a government department, it's fairly basic data entry and it's quiet and that suits me just now. I think going back to work fulltime is hard enough without having to cope with stress or phones ringing and people needing me to help them, etc. Sometimes I feel bored, but that's natural right? Sometimes (often) I feel tired, but given my new lifestyle that's expected, right?

Mostly, I have maintained a positive mood which is probably thanks to the Cymbalta and Solian more than anything else. Life outside work is going well, though there are major changes in my home life to contend with along with the changes at work. Michelle, my housemate, met a nice man six months ago and they have decided to move in together. Awesome for them, but it meant I had the choice of trying to find a new room-mate, trying to live on my own (financially difficult) or moving in with Neil. After discussion Neil and I decided I should move in with him, which I'm both excited and terrified about! He lives with his obtuse and recalcitrant 19 year old son and his small dog, and as you know I am devoted to my moody cat. His house is a lot further out of the city (where I work) and further from public transport. But apart from these minor issues, I think it's going to be great for our relationship and will save me money. Neil owns his home and doesn't want me to pay rent - so I can put that money aside for saving or repaying my parents. I'll obviously contribute to all the bills, but even so I will be a lot better off financially. I love and adore him, too!! So that's a positive environment to be in. It's just a change, that's all, and one that may bring out the worst in me, my mental illness, our relationship, etc. Moving day is April 2nd so wish us luck!

Doc A has been away in Italy at a conference, and I cancelled my last appointment, so it's been about six weeks since I saw him. With all these changes, I could have done with the support. He's stopped doing after hours consultations, so I don't know how I will juggle fulltime work with therapy. But I know I need to try and work it out.

I need to get back to work so I have to be brief. Michelle took her computer when she moved out, so I have no option for reading blogs except lunch breaks at work. I miss everyone so much! I hope you're all hanging in there, and finding some happiness. I will try and check in more often and update you guys.

Lots of love, Lil xx

Post title is from Lisa Mitchell "Coin Laundry".

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

just a jump to the left

And then a step to the right. To and fro, up and down, here and there. Life is a comedy of swings and roundabouts lately, and if I didn't know better I would wonder if I were experiencing a mixed episode... Recently I spent the majority of ten days in bed, paralysed with the crippling grief of depression and swallowed whole by a black cloud. An appointment with Doc A (the first one in 3 months due to his vacation) had me upping my Cymbalta meds and since then things have improved. But one of the things I instigated while I was languishing in my depressive episode was to quit my job.

Rather than it being an impulsive act, or the result of a breakdown, I decided to quit because my job has steadily become too easy, too boring, too pointless, too... well, too simple to just not go. There are a lot of positives, and they were very kind to me last year when I had my month of mental health leave, but in the end it was time for me to move on. I've decided to look for full-time work, which is terrifying but necessary. I need money. I need private health insurance, and to pay $500 to finalise my divorce. I need a decent haircut and colour. I need new shoes. I've been finding it increasingly impossible to live on the part-time wage I was receiving, so I have to at least TRY to work more hours. I've done it before, and I believe that if I find a job that's halfway interesting and productive I will be happy to go full-time. Even if it's just for six months or a year until I get ahead again.

I can't lie, though, it's a scary proposition. I am used to having four days a week to spend in bed recovering from working three days. I am used to a slack workplace that expects very little where I can (as I am now!!) check blogs, write emails and apply for other jobs without anyone commenting. Bring it on, though. I kind of look forward to having expectations placed upon me, I almost believe that I will rise to the occasion and perform as required. At the moment, even though so little is required of me, I still languish in depression and lazy bed-ridden-ness. My mum made the point that I may as well "die trying"!! If I am going to have a massive meltdown why not do it while earning stacks of money and doing a high-faluting job??

Thus far, I've had a few interviews and been offered one job which seemed to be nearly as boring as the one I have now. I have until March 3 at my current position, so there's time to find something. Neil and I are going to Melbourne tomorrow for a few days holiday, which I am SO looking forward to. I get to introduce him to my friend H, and we are going to a great zoo over there which has open range safari type landscape with African animals. My parents paid for the plane tickets as a Christmas present, and Neil has saved up the spending money as I am ridiculously poor )-: I am looking forward to the break, and some time spent with my lovely boy. We had a great Valentine's yesterday, went out for dinner and talked about possibly moving in together at some stage over the next few months. YIKES!! Big changes!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Childless Women - Lacking An Essential Humanity??

I found a link to this really interesting and thought-provoking exhibition on a blog I follow Edge of Everywhere. Moved by the negative reactions to her and other women’s decisions not to have children, Miriam Schaer embroidered real quotes onto white baby dresses with red thread, creating a shocking visual representation of the societal prejudice against childless women.

The artist writes:

“Selfish… Neurotic… Irresponsible… Immature… Unfeminine… Unfulfilling… Materialistic… Uptight… Deviant” — all words I have heard to characterize my decision to not have children, a decision transforming me into a target of one of society’s remaining and widely held prejudices.

Baby (Not) on Board: The Last Prejudice?, addresses the question of why the existence of women who choose maternal independence over child-rearing angers or offends so many people and institutions. The work presented here is part of a continuing exploration of our culture’s pejorative views about women without kids. For Baby (Not) on Board: The Last Prejudice?, I hand-embroidered representative negative comments on baby dresses using red thread to create scarlet letters. Gathered from interviews with childless women, online research, and personal experience, the statements taunt and accuse, and are typical of an endless flow of critical statements that seem to be growing bolder even as non-traditional families are gaining greater acceptance.

These pictures really touched me, as a woman who for most of her life has been uninterested in having children. I've most definitely had that decision questioned, sometimes almost vilified, even though I have the "excuse" of being physically unable to easily bear children and probably having to have had IVF or similar if I had been keen on having children. I just have so many reasons why kids can't and won't be a part of my life, not the least because of my mental illness. I have nieces and nephews I adore, but in general I find children uninteresting and irrelevant to me and my life. Why is this so horrifying to people?