Fuck This Shit

It’s 8am, my head hurts and I’m a level of exhausted reserved for those both pregnant and sick at the same time. 

Outside the sun is shining, the air looks relatively warm, and I should want to garden or something. Instead I would like to go back to bed, because I had to get up at 6am to let the dog out of the garage to go to the toilet.

There was a 16 year old standing in the kitchen listening to him bark and whine to be let out, but apparently it’s too fucking hard for a kid of that age to walk across the room, let the cat into my room, and then let the dog out. So I got up and dealt with it. 

So I’m sick. I’m exhausted. And I’ve been up for 2 hours.

Let’s call this ‘training for motherhood’ rather than ‘seeing how far I can be pushed before I lose my shit entirely’. 

Changes Realised

I have spent most of today crying.

I cried because I couldn’t get the dog to calm down. I cried because I hadn’t gotten the kitchen fully cleaned. I cried because a layer of dust had settled over the couch again after I spent half an hour cleaning it last night thanks to the high winds today. I cried because I hadn’t cleaned our bedroom. I cried because I almost blew up the vacuum just before I finished vacuuming. I cried because the dining room table hadn’t been done (and it won’t be tonight).

I have felt like a complete failure from beginning to end.

Somewhere in there I realised that, as terrible as today has been for me emotionally, over all I cry a lot less these days. The support of my loving mate, the medication and doctors, and the encouragement of friends and family, have pulled me out of the black hole I used to live in everyday.

A few minutes ago I came to another realisation. The reason being so truly overwhelmed really, really, REALLY sucks so much worse than it used to is because it is now so rare. It’s not something I live with on a day to day basis…

And that’s nice.

And now I’m gonna eat my ice cream, clean my dinner dishes and go to bed, because today has truly sucked.

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…

Relief

I’ve been holding a lot of stress in lately.

It started with the doctors appointment. Previous doctors have been unreceptive to the list of symptoms, going so far as to tell me that if I want to get better then I just have to lose weight or that I’m making shit up to get medications. So I went in STRESSED, and I think I only really started to let it go today.

The doctor was actually great. She listened to me, went over the family history, made sure I got my flu shot before I left, and referred me to a physio and dietician after making sure that I had support for my mental health still.

The physio is ok. Reassuring in some ways, but I get the impression he doesn’t quite believe me when I say it all hurts. At the end of the day though he’s only looking after the acute pain in my back, and the exercises he’s given me are doing so much to help that I have zero complaints.

But the dietician… I adore her already. She was wonderful. Went over my full health history, made some suggestions of things to chat to my doctor about in regards to possible causes for current issues, and walked me through the process we’re going to take for the time being. I have her email and assurance that it will be no bother if I email her to clarify or check anything. Mostly, though, I think the best thing was having someone tell me to stop worrying about my weight. Just to stop, that tending to my diet and digestive problems, working on lowering my pain levels, and improving my sleep will take care of that so just stop worrying about.

I almost cried then and there. The sheer relief of having someone else say it after being constantly bombarded with ‘lose weight, there is nothing wrong with you’ was overwhelming.

It’ll be a while till everything has been ticked off the list of possible causes and an actual cause located, but in the meantime I feel really supported by the team of medical professionals I’m dealing with, and finally like I’m a bit more in control of what’s going on.

That said I give it 24 hours till I’m swearing blue-murder about being back on the full fodmap diet. 

Thinking, Plotting, Planning.

I’ve been busting my ass for almost 5 solid months now. From last November through to today (and probably for a few more months to come. Lately I have hit complete burnout. Charlie can just not deal right now. So my beloved is out and I am sitting at home, in the A/C, poisoning myself with pizza that I ordered to be not poisonous. Turns out the local Crust Pizza is stupid and I can’t order from there, but I was too lazy to send it back.

That’s how fucking over it I am. I ordered from Crust and didn’t tell them to fuck off when the order arrived with a regular base and onions.

It’s bad, I tell you.

The good is that being this burnt out has lead to some serious thought on my future, where I want to be and what I want to be doing. There’s good news, because somewhere along the line I’ve started looking at life much more holistically. Gone are the days of screaming this bits wrong and flailing at it.

Everything is wrong. So dead fucking wrong, but this isn’t a whine post. Fuck whine posts. Here’s what’s happening, I read this article about two weeks ago and it got my mind churning (despite the constant zombie brain – did I mention I slept a solid 12 hours last night?).

The author of that article talks about educating oneself. So I am. I’m not doing courses in business or picking up a new degree or something like that. I’m working through a Lynda.com short course on better communication. Why? Because I’m shy, and awkward, and I’ve let that get in the way for a long time. So I’m improving my ability to talk to people in a professional environment.

I’m discussing what I need at work with my boss. I started with some management issues I’ve been having with my direct report. Next up I’ve put some serious thought into what my role is and what I want it to be. By next week I should be able to communicate exactly what I want my role to look like and a plan to get us from here to there.

 

I eat like crap, I don’t exercise enough, I never get enough sleep and I’m in pain. The solution to this, to be blunt, is to stop eating like crap, get some useful exercise and start getting enough sleep. Just stop being an idiot about it all.  Although I stand by tonight’s pizza binge because sometimes pizza is about the soul, not the body.

I’m on the verge of complete burnout and it finally occurred to me I have a problem. Some of it stems from the things above, but some of the above – especially the food and sleep related bits – stem from this one thing: I can not turn off from work. Depression isn’t an issue and anxiety is mostly under control, but I can not turn off at night. Dancing used to be my go to, but lately it doesn’t really help – I’m already physically exhausted – so meditation is going back on my to do list. I’m hoping it will help and from there I guess I’ll just explore the possibilities.

I’m also going to read. Read and read and read. I keep putting the books down because I don’t have a lot of time, but I love to read. It relaxes me and makes my mind refocus on other things… so I am going to read!

 

And this is the end of the post that Charlie built. That’s it, no more to see, byeeee.

 

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.

I take back what you have stolen.

“I take back what you have stolen, and in your languages I announce I am now nameless. My true name is a growl.” — Margaret Atwood

The past few months have been difficult ones, internally at least. Life has rolled on, work has continued, The Wild One is ever present and finances have fallen together as needed. Internally though… Change is the hardest thing. Effecting true, long lasting, change is equal parts exhilarating, terrifying, maddening and agonising.

I sit in a small, comfortable office every two weeks and talk for an hour or more. Together with the warm, gentle, woman across from me I dig through my past and my present, through my fears and long held beliefs, through my fears, and begin to slowly, ever so slowly, to untangle the knots. The knots are complex things – fear entwines with shame, shame twists around anger, anger tangles into anxiety, anxiety wraps into grief and sorrow and so on it goes. We work at it, picking apart the emotions and events that caused them slow and sure. This has been the hardest work of my life. I can tell you that without a second thought to it. This is HARD. And like most things that are truly hard work, it is  worthwhile.

If the process of exploring the events and the emotions around them is complex then dealing with the long held beliefs about myself that I hold because of them is near impossible. Worthless, valueless, incompetent, powerless, small, broken, fragile, useless, damaged. I have always been waiting to be dumped, to be turned on, to be betrayed. I have felt unloveable and unworthy of anyones time for as long as I can remember. I fake having self worth so well that almost no one has never realised how absolutely and utterly worthless I have felt for the entirety of my life.  Mistaking my careful and precise public image of control and confidence for a sense of self worth rather than the survival instinct it was. I have always had power. For every bit of grief this body of mine has bought upon me it has made up with with the power to manipulate – and like every born survivor I have played my advantage and protected myself.

And now, the dots have connected. One and at a time and some so subtly I didn’t even realise until it was pointed out. I’m shedding a skin I’ve worn for a very long time. It is terrifying, and yet…

I don’t know this woman.

She is so different from the one that sat here and typed a week ago, let alone months or years ago. There is a quiet confidence built of an understanding of where she has been, and where she is. She looks forward and knows where she wants to go. She knows what she isn’t, what she is and what she wants to be. She no longer needs to be anything for anyone else but herself. She will be accepted and loved as she is or she won’t be and that is ok. She is me, all the same.

I have been put through hell in this life – I have raped, beaten, mocked, shamed, battered, bullied, assaulted, betrayed over, and over, and over again since I was a small child. There are things I simply do not know how to do that are basic formative skill that I never learnt and I have been left isolated and afraid.

I’m not scared anymore, and I don’t feel alone anymore. There are so many ways I have changed, and so many ways I will continue to change… and so many more ways that I want to change.

At the centre of it all there’s just this quiet calm ‘Hello, this is me.’

To Draw Lines in the Sand.

February 2012 – Sober I said no. Drunk I was easy picking. A week later I dragged him back into bed, a stupid attempt at regaining the control he took away.

May 2013 – When I finally couldn’t pretend anymore. 18 months of trying desperately to find a way to make it ok. To believe that he loved me, that it wasn’t rape, that I had no reason to be afraid, that we could move on. I finally gave up, surrendered, admitted that being alone with him was terrifying and that I didn’t want him anywhere near me.

May 2013 – I told people what happened. I will never forget, nor ever lack gratitude, for the anger and support that came from Arrow in those first few weeks. She held me together in so many ways as my life came undone.

May 2015 – Engaged, in love, moving on…

Except that I’m still afraid. I still live in terror of being in the same place as him. I fear the day mutual friends put us in the same room. Except that I’m still blaming myself for trusting him, for believing him, for letting him be in a position to take advantage of me – to violate me. Except I’m still feeling betrayed in every possible way – by him, by the people who believe there is somehow a way he redeems himself.

I’m not the first. Other women known to me have similar experiences, yet somehow he’s still redeemable.

I’m tired of hurting, of being scared and feeling one step from falling down. I need to heal, and I have to draw the line in the sand for my own sanity.

 

 

Stephen Fry is my Hero and Other Things About Depression

Stephen Fry is my hero. Really. Which is funny because I actually have no idea what he’s even famous for, but every time he opens his mouth about depression I just want to hug the man and thank him.

I live with depression, and by live I mean it’s my baseline, my daily existence. As opposed to going through bouts of depression which most people will at least once or twice in their life I live under the cloud almost all the time. Some days I get flashes of sun, on a rare occasion I’ll have solid periods of sun, but most the time the sun is behind the clouds and there’s a low drizzle of rain.

It’s not too bad, truth be told. I don’t do the random spikes of manically up and then crash like someone with bipolar has to deal with. I don’t have a baseline of happy to compare back to so I don’t necessarily feel truly horrible the way someone who is going through a bout of depression in their otherwise mostly ok life would. It’s just a fact of being for me.

I sleep a bit more than most people. Frequently 10 – 14 hours a day if I have no reason to be up. I often have trouble doing basic things like dishes, laundry and cooking… I forget to eat a lot (and sometimes wish my waist line would show that really). For the most part I get by. I have had to learn to focus on what I do get done so I don’t fall into a bottomless pit of feeling like a waste of air for not getting shit done. I go out often, even if it’s just to sit in a cafe, because being out helps keep me balanced. I try to see people, and I try to not hide how I feel without being angsty-pants-the-angsty at the same time – it’s a bit of a balance but achievable.

Mostly it just spoils things a little. I can’t quite raise the enthusiasm, I don’t feel as inspired by life, I get tired and worn so very easily…

Sometimes shit gets bad though. The clouds get so thick and dark that I go from feeling a little numb and sad for no real reason, disconnected from the things and people around me, to a place where hurting myself is an option, killing myself is a good idea or where I want to simply cease being. These periods are the worst because it’s hard to ask for help when you feel completely disconnected and/or feel like your very being is wasting oxygen.

The wonderful illustrated blog Hyperbole and a Half put up a very accurate representation of how these times feel, up to and including trying to explain to the people you care about, in this post… although I tend to not get the laughter bit, but rather get irrationally angry instead. It made me cry. I had therapy today and then went and talked to a good friend who is struggling with some of these same issues at the moment, and then read that post on the way home and cried.

It’s my life in a blog post.

I’ve sat here a number of times, quite recently, and simply wished I didn’t exist. Not even wished I was dead, just that I did not and had never existed. Like my very presence is fucking shit up for everyone around me. It’s not a nice place to be at, and it’s a long slow process to get back to a baseline of overcast and just a little bit rainy. When people tell me these are brave words I feel a touch lost…

It’s not brave.

It just is. It’s a fact of life like going to work so you can keep a roof over your head. You deal with it because you have to… that doesn’t take bravery or courage. It takes, perhaps, a little strength. It requires a certain level of iron in your soul to deal with this shit day in and day out without letting yourself sink… mostly it takes a lot of self knowledge and the willingness to believe against all odds that tomorrow will be better.

So yeah, Stephen Fry is my hero, because he doesn’t sugar coat it all with saccharinely positive self help bullshit. It hurts, and it’s hard, and you can not control it, but you’ll get days with the most beautiful blue skies if you can wait out the storms.

1am is not my friend

I wake up at 1am. Head aching for no apparent reason and not enough sleep.

I am alone. Nothing new, nothing unusual.

My brain fixates on him. Last night I removed him from intant message programs, facebook, google, twitter… all the places he can reach me online. He still has access to phone and email, but calls and emails can be ignored.

It fixates on confrontation. Public places can be safe, but here, in my home, is another matter.

I get distressed wondering if I can ask the housemates to not let him in when I’m around. I know it’s stupid. The Peacock will do as he’s told. He’s about to move out and has no reason to be anything but behaved. Arrow will understand, she’s brilliant and I have no reason to question that…

And my brain just keeps at it, over and over, throwing the scenario of being home alone into the mix just to fuck me up a little more.

And I’m alone.

There’s no one to tell me I’m ok. There’s no one to roll over to and hold. There’s just me in a big bed crying quietly.

I’m alone and can’t remember the last time I hated my life this much.

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