2017 Redux (Yeah we’re early)

It’s closing on the end of the year and… I’m sick, again.

Off work with lots of time to kill today and I can tell you that with 3 months to go 2017 has been one hell of a ride.

  • Sick – all year. I’ve been constantly sick.
  • Except for that one time when I was pregnant… Ah, that’s kind of ongoing. It’s nice to know I hadn’t suffered through weeks of nausea for nothing though ;p
  • Inflamed medial nerve – hey presto, we know what’s wrong with my hands and how to take care of them.
  • MARRIAGE! I’m married and holy fuck is that a mind trip. Honestly it’s changed nothing and everything all at the same time.

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  • Lipstick – didn’t really become a happening thing. Go back to the sick part. When getting out of bed is a literal nightmare then makeup is the last thing you give a shit about.
  • Reading – thanks to being sick I have actually done a fair bit of this. I have also found some new comics I really like recently.
  • PUPPY! Ok so he’s 8, but we welcomed the beautiful Kovu to the family just after Easter 2017 and the big goof has fitted right in. We have some minor behavioural issues to work on – someone likes to bark at all the passing trucks and cars for several hours of a morning – but overall it’s gone really well. He’s a very polite, but super cheeky boy.

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  • Depression has been neither a winning nor losing battle. My meds can’t keep up with current lack of sleep and hormonal changes, but I’ve come a massively long way since I started therapy and I having coping mechanisms in place that I never thought I would.
  • Home continues to go well. We have all the patio areas in and I started staining the plinths for under the last section of fencing to go in. Once we’ve done that we can look at grass and then gardens. It’s been a long slow process with My Wolf’s ongoing travel for work.
  • PREGNANCY! The latest in a long list of things shaking up my world. I’m now 22 weeks pregnant. I have a very normal and healthy baby growing inside me and a great Obstetrician and GP taking care of me. Not to mention all the love and patience from my husband… and god does he need patience, because perpetual exhaustion does not sit well with me, and I am currently the grumpiest human being ever.
  • 1 year at my job… today I think or soon.

 

So yeah, if 2017 could refrain from throwing any more huge things at me that would be fucking awesome. I’d like 2018 to maybe be a little bit calmer? Newborn aside.

Hmmmm

I spend a lot more time online these days than I’m really comfortable with.

It’s definitely a habit more than a necessity, one born of years of depression, anxiety and the fatigue that both bought on. For a while online contact was pretty much all I had and now it is habit to just pick up my phone and check Facebook and tumblr…

Tumblr isn’t something I’d think of us too much a loss if it shut down tomorrow, but Facebook… over the years I’ve built up a small network of wonderful international friends. I’d miss them terribly if I didn’t have the contact of Facebook,
There’s no point to this post. Just musing. 

This is what it feels like…

You want to know what chronic illness feels like?

Chronic illness feels like having a great job, but never having the energy for it. It’s being fucked whether you bullshit that you’re ok and push through till you’re a complete wreck and collapse, or are openly honest that you have serious limitations due to your health. Either way you’ll never feel secure in your position and you’ll always take too much sick leave.

It is finding the perfect door into your dream career and knowing there’s no point applying for it because you’re on your fifth or sixth lot of antibiotics for the year and it’s only early April, which means winter is going to be hell and there’s no way you’ll cope with full time work. You’re not sure you’ll manage to cope with your part time job as it is. Maybe because you’re barely coping with it at all right now.

Chronic illness is having to convince yet another fucking doctor that you’re not a hypochondriac. It’s having to push and fight every fucking inch of the way to get the care you need, to convince them to stop treating your individual health issues as individual problems and let you speak to specialists about the potential of them being symptoms of a larger issue.

It’s being perpetual tired and sore. Always. Literally always. Aching muscles, aching joints, and fatigue greet you when you wake up and go to bed with you no matter what you do. Your idea of a pain free day would make a normal person hole up in bed with pain killers and a heat pack. You don’t get that option because shit needs to get done. Kids need to fed. Jobs attended….

And your house will never be clean because you can work or keep house, not both.

Chronic illness is being up for doing things you’re really not up for doing, because otherwise you’d go slowly and silently insane from never stepping foot out your front door. It’s having to walk shorter and easier hiking trails than you want. It’s working your ass off to be stronger whilst knowing that no matter how much work you put in you’ll never make the grade to do the things you want. It’s learning to choose slower, gentler options for leisure in the name of actually being functional for the entire day.

It’s trying to explain to other people that going camping sick is ok, you just have to take it a bit easier, because if you only went camping when you were well you’d never fucking go. It’s cancelling on your friend with the bad immune system, or the one that works with children/the elderly/the sick or the one with young children over and over again because you catch everything that goes round and they can’t afford to be sick.

Chronic illness is feeling like a fucking burden. It’s the house never being cleaned when your partner gets home. It’s asking them to cook for you after they’ve been at work all day because you’re sick again and too tired. It’s never contributing as much, doing as much or giving as much as they do. It’s the little frictions you cause because you are not as capable as you need to be. It’s the frustration of alternately being babied and asked too much of, because that middle ground is hard to find.

It’s trying not to get frustrated with well meaning suggestions and ideas that you’ve tried before. It’s trying to explain that ‘no, exercise isn’t the answer for an already exhausted body’ and that driving 4 hours to sit and crochet by a camp fire is actually worth it. It’s trying to get across the sheer complexity of existing like this to someone who never has without getting angry or treating them like their an idiot, and feeling like it always sounds like excuses.

It’s watching them close off when you try to plan for the future, because ‘what if it never gets better?’

It’s feeling like you’re holding the people you love most back in every possible way.

 

Chronic illness is the frustration of trying to explain the above and more on repeat to every person in your life, especially your loved ones. Day in and day out. It’s exhausting.

These are the pills I take of a morning at the moment, just to try and keep functional and get my immune system coping a little better with everything that’s hitting it. 7 of them are regular daily ones, the 8th is an antibiotic I’m on at the moment for round whatever-I’m-up-to of chest infections this year.

I’m angry, frustrated and tired, and done. I feel like I’m about to lose my job. I feel perpetually like a burden, no matter what I do or how much of it. I feel like I will never be able to properly financially contribute to my household, that I let my husband down and that I’m frequently a bad parent to our kids.

I want to scream and force people to live inside my body for a day, just one 24 hour period, when they tell me I’m fine, or doing too much, or not doing enough, or that it’ll get better. This is what I live with, the good days are most people’s bad days and I lie a lot about how I’m doing so people will treat me like I’m somewhat normal.

 

Today I am squiring around in the chair as a write. Standing hurts, sitting hurts, moving hurts, lying down hurts. So does typing, crochet, and lifting my tea cup, but my hands have been like that for weeks now, and we keep on going…

2016 in Review.

It’s mid-ish November, I’ve just logged out of my facebook with no idea when I plan on logging back in and removed the app from my phone.

Trump is President-elect of the United States which is mildly terrifying, and our government is sending off-shore processed refugees to there… because why not send them to a country that doesn’t want them.

Earlier this year the Australian people voted mother-fucking Pauline Hansen into parliament, and failed to boot our shitty ass government out in favor of better things. We’re still a coalition.

David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder and Leonard Cohen all died… Bowie, Rickman and Prince were pretty fucking devastating. After Bowie it all just melted into a pot of ‘God, fuck, no’.

In my personal life it’s been up and down.

On the down I was retrenched in April, been broke, been sick several times, have lost very little weight, have had a world of stress on my shoulders, haven’t made much art, finances are tight, and it’s generally been a rough year.

On the up… We moved into our house with help of amazing friends. The house is gorgeous and feels like ours in a way that rentals never do. I’m happy here and we’re building our life together which is amazing. The wedding planning continues with a few minor setbacks and we’re pretty fucking excited about life at large.

I have some answers to health problems that have lessened the complaints from my stomach and digestive track which has improved my overall health in many ways. I have much lower pain issues thanks to the same change in diet plans that helped my stomach as they also alleviated a lot of the inflammation in my joints. On top of that I have a diagnosis for my foot pain that has lead to improvements in feet, ankles, knees, hips and lower back which has been awesome. So much less pain means so much better sleep. Better sleep means more stable me, and that means…

I’m coming off my meds, successfully as far as we can tell. The first 2 weeks were a nightmare, but the anxiety has settled down to generally being caused by something or due to being over tired and unable to reign in stress over inconsequential shit. So I’m now at week four.

About a month back I also started a new job which I am loving. I’ve gone from 4 half days to four full days and am stepping up to take over the roster coordinator role whilst they’re on leave. I’m scheduling, and it’s challenging enough to be interesting without being super stressful like the old job was. I love it, and am hoping to be there for a few years while I study.

Speaking of, I started the pre-requisite classes for my degree this year, and it is going super well. I did really well on my portfolio and first essay – High distinctions on both. So now I’m waiting on results from my final essay and chat board grades (participation markers because we’re online students). So that’s good. Next semester is Statistics so… panic stations.

Mum is coming down for Christmas too, which is nice. We’ll also have the cousins, in-laws, bro-in-law and wifey with kids in tow. It’s gonna be big and fun. First family Christmas we’ve done since I moved in.

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So yeah, that’s my year in redux. No idea what the next month and a half will bring, but it better be better than Trump and no more people dying or else. It’s summer. Have a photo from a few weeks back when we climbed Hanging Rock. Look, it’s me and stuff.

Happy

I’m happy with life as it stands.

Sure, I’d like employment sometime real soon, and I’d like to be done with this food testing stuff (and the invariable days of feeling like someone has repeatedly kicked me in the guts), but over all things are good.

I have a loving, wonderful, supportive, and charming partner. 2 awesome young ladies I get to refer to as my kids whilst marvelling and how intelligent, driven and skilled they are. And incredible, amazing, talented and inspiring friends (and a super fluffy cat). I have no fear that I won’t be able to pay my bills, or rent… well mortgage as it is now. And when I need things I can afford to go buy them.

It’s weird and new for me. I wish, more than anything, that all my friends and family will find their way to their version of this. They deserve it.

The Resolutions of 2016

I’ve never been huge on these resolution things, but I’m beginning to take a liking to having a plan and acting on it. Then checking back in on it later so I can see how I’m tracking… and that’s what I’m working on.

The Career Stuff. – I have a lot of career based goals for 2016 which I’m not going to go into detail on, but they are centre stage in many ways. It’s the first time I’ve had a job that I really feel fits and there are huge projects ahead so now we have to really push them to work. So a quick overview:

Stress/Time Management.
Solidify scheduling practice.
Delivery (without making doctors cry).

This year there are plans to execute:

Build on my relationships outside of my Wolf and Sprogs. – I got very insular last year, but I do need social activity to be sane. I especially want to gather together with some of the other professional women in my life on a regular/semi-regular basis for foodings and chat.

Monthly get togethers with the amazing women in my life.
Make it to at least one party/social event a month.
Catch up with individual people rather than ‘soon’ notes.
Cook meals for people.

Plan a fucking wedding! – I have no idea how to do this. I figure it’s just a super fancy party so that works for me and that’s what I’m running with. Big party, much fun to be had. The wedding stuff will be tagged and linked on a page once it’s started.

Lose weight and get fit. – Yeah yeah yeah, every year and every human being on the face of the planet, but really… I spent last year getting the damage and pain issues under control so I can do this. I have to have my foot looked at early in 2016, but that going well the plans are:

Regular floor based yoga practice.
Start running as soon as I have doctor’s clearance re foot. (I even have new runners).
Loose 10-15kg and 2 dress sizes (not actually unrealistic)
Break the Coke-a-Cola and Ice Break habits.

Make more art. – To this end I have started up a little group called the Little Sharp Teeth Collective made of close friends to help keep us all accountable to our goals. Complexity of pieces will effect these plans but for now:

1 print per month.
1 crochet piece every other month.

EDIT: I am also going to read everything on this list: http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-essential-cyberpunk-reading-list-1714180001

And that’s it really. We move into our new house in a few months and there will be a lot of gardening and time with the girls and stuff, but I think this sums up the plan of attack for now.

A little sting

I was meant to go to a party today. A welcome back for a good friend who has been over seas for sometime.

My rapist was also invited.

My friend asked me if I wanted an invite in advance. They were perfectly polite and considerate about it. I put serious thought into saying no. I don’t want to be anywhere near him for good reason, but it’s been a few years and there’s been a lot of therapy…

And the friend had been away for so long. I missed them and wanted to be there to say hi again. So I accepted with the caveat that I may pull out last minute.

I made it to this morning. A few hours before the party was due to start (not long after I woke up) my stress levels had hit the point where my hands were shaking and I was on the verge of a panic attack. I let my friend know, I am a polite guest after all, and went back to bed for cuddles from my Wolf. Stress eased off pretty quick and all.

Which isn’t the point of this.

The point of this is that I hate it. I hate so much that he has any power over me still. I’m not stupid enough to force myself into the position of being in a room with him when I’m already at that stage hours in advance. I know it may take time before I can deal calmly with it… If I ever get to that point at all. But I hate it.

All he ever wanted was to have power over me, and he’s succeeded. Maybe not in the way he intended but he did succeed. That just makes my gut churn.

 

2015 in Review

Holy shit, what a year!

Mental health went to shit and then it got slowly better. Now it is in the best place I remember it ever being. Unfortunately physical health then followed along the same path. Thankfully it too is also now good thanks to actual diagnosis of an actual problem, not just random guesses and/or being dismissed by doctors. That caused massive dietary changes very recently so I’m cooking more, feel better and am just, in general, doing well.

Things are well on the home front despite the health dramas. The Wild One and I go from strength to strength, supporting each other through the years challenges. The twins and I continue to get along and have good times. We’re building a house. We’re planning a wedding. The former appears to be easier than the latter.

I have found myself in great company throughout the year. Reconnecting with old friends and finding a more social me gradually. I’ve been blessed to find myself back in the company of W (I don’t know he’d appreciate his name on my blog), and therefore in the company of his lovely people. I was blown away at the first dinner he threw post my diagnosis when everyone, including people I didn’t know, went out of their way to make things I could eat. Just… people do shit like that!?!

Work carries on. It’s good mostly and now that my health is better I’ve been able to identify issues and have started to address them so that I can work better and be happier there. I am content with that as movement. There were a lot of highly stressful and massive changes through the year, but it’s getting there.

So the goals I’d set for 2015 were:

  1. Continue with the building of solid relationships. – Great Victory! There are friends, and twins, and gorgeous partner.
  2. Cut back on the alcohol and sugar. – Also Great Victory!! Like seriously HUGE victory. On both fronts.
  3. Cook things. Lots of things. New things. Use the fucking cookbook collection. – Fuck yes on the first bit, the change of diet aside I’ve done more cooking this year than I have in years. Tried a lot of new things.
    Not so much with using my cookbooks. I really think I need to give 99% of them away. And then replace them with ones I will actually use. 
  4. Learn to work wood, silversmith and make incense. – I failed this one. Too much other things happening. I’m ok with this.So, for all the stress and drama of the year, this has been a good year. It was a struggle, but everything has been moving towards something. The pain has always proceeded or been part of growth.2015, in short, was a great success.

Slow Cooked Steak and Kidney Pie Filling

Ok, ok, so this was actually fucking awesome. My attempt at home made pastry was not so awesome. It came out a bit too dry for anyone’s tastes, but it was soft and crumbly in all the right ways. We have a plan of attack for that. However the second pie, made with shop bought gluten free pastry, was perfect and the filling was amazing.

PIE!!!!!!!

To make it grab (approximately) the following. I say approximately because I wasn’t really measuring shit. It also made two large pies so adjust accordingly:

  • 1kg beef or lamb – Super cheap cuts work fine for this but no bones.
  • 6-7 lamb kidneys
  • GF flour of some description to dredge kidneys in
  • Mushrooms – I put a lot in, but up to you.
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Garlic infused olive oil
  • Asafoetida powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Smoked Paprika – I love this stuff. I put it in everything ok?
  • Beef stock
  • 1/2 cup red wine or port, or a mix of both
  • Cornflour
  1. Throw beef/lamb into the slow cooker on low. No need to dice it at this point.
  2. Slice up mushrooms and chuck them in with the beef/lamb (you can also do this at the end)
  3. Dice up kidneys into bite sized/pie sized pieces and dredge in flour.
  4. Fry up kidneys in a hot pan with olive oil. Allow to stick to the bottom a bit. When they’re mostly done throw them in the slow cooker with beef/lamb and mushrooms.
  5. Toss tomato paste, a good amount of the smoked paprika, oregano, thyme, a bit more garlic infused oil, salt an pepper to taste and asafoetida into the pan and let sizzle a bit.
  6. Pour in wine/port and scrub at the bottom of the pan with a spatula to life any crusted flour.
  7. Add in bay leaves and beef stock, and let reduce for a few minutes.
  8. Pour over meat and mushrooms in slow cooker over night (8-10 hours is good)
  9. Pull out cooked beef/lamb and ‘shred’ (By shred what I mean is gently prod while it falls apart around your cooking implements).
  10. For the next bit you need to be able to bring the sauce part of the dish to the boil. If you’re able to just pop your slow cooker insert over a burner then use a slotted spoon to remove most of the solids into a bowl to one side and get it on the boil. If not you’ll need to strain the liquid out into a pot. Do this, get liquid boiling.
  11. Add some salt, pepper, more paprika, etc to the liquid to get it tasting how YOU like it. We like lots of pepper and paprika.
  12. Add a few heaped teaspoons of cornflour to cold water and drizzle it into the boiling liquid while stirring continuously. Let it thicken a bit* and then add it back to the meat.
  13. Do pie related stuff here! You want your over pre-heated to 200 celsius. You’ll be cooking it anywhere from 20-40 minutes depending on the oven – basically you want the pastry nice and brown.
    • The easiest method is to pour the filling into a dish and then grab some GF pre-made pastry from the freezer section, roll it out and fit it over top, poke a few holes in it.
    • Slightly harder is using said pre-made GF pastry again. Grease your dish, put down a layer of pastry so the bottom and sides are well covered and add filling – leaving a gap at the top. Cover with pastry, rolling or scoring the sides to the pie lid. Then cook.
    • Hardest method is doing either of the above with home made GF pastry. When I get the pastry right I’ll tell you about it.

 

*A note about thickening: We made the mistake of reducing the liquid by half then thickening it. The pastry and shredded meat drank it up so the filling was quite solid (Still moist but not gravy-ish). I’d recommend either following what I said above or reducing the stock only. Feel free to experiment.

 

 

Looking Back – An update on my mental health

I was, as I’ve mentioned before, diagnosed with chronic depression at age 25 after years of progressively losing more and more of my daily battles with it. I saw a great therapist for 6 months, then returned to Melbourne where I spent a few years jumping through the ‘find a good therapist’ hoops before I landed with my current one, Elke. I’ve spent about 2 year under her care. I’ve been medicated for about 8 months now after spiralling down into a severe low and deciding I didn’t much care to be alive.

It’s been a hard road to walk. I’ve had to face up to some very hard truths in that time. With Elke I was pushed and challenged. Pushed to step outside what I knew. Challenged to remap my world with a new language. It’s been good. I’ve done the work and reaped the benefits. I shed skins few times and came out tougher and wiser for it, I think.

Most importantly I didn’t spack over any cracks. I healed them. No matter how slow, painful and frustrating the healing process was I stuck with it. My depression is pretty effectively gone. My anxiety is within normal realms in most places. I manage stress, conflict, and communication better than I ever have. I am looking forward and making plans!

I’ve really learnt the value of acknowledgement, introspection and release. Acknowledge the issues, examine and resolve them within myself, and then let them go. There’s a lot I’ve come to terms with and am now able to explain better than I could a few years ago. Which is a bit sad as some of it is around issues that I wish I could have made people understand better what was going on at the time. It is what it is though.

I’m beginning to wind up with Elke. Meds will remain in place till mid-2016 to give me time to make sure I am truly functional prior to having to face the world without chemical interference. I’m truly happy at the moment. I’m already looking forward to seeing what the new year will bring for myself and my little family of loved ones and dear friends.

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