Posts tagged ‘mental health’

I’VE LOOKED AT CLOUDS FROM BOTH SIDES NOW. 

In the last few weeks there has been the twentieth anniversary of the death of Princess Diana and the sixteenth anniversary of September 11. There were many television programs commemorating the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. I watched some of them. I heard her sons speak of the last conversation they had with their mother; a brief phone chat. Their regret that they had not spoken to their mother for longer. Those poor little boys. 

There were also lots of articles commemorating the anniversary of 9/11. Tales of ordinary extraordinary people. Stories of brave survival and honourable death. Poignant conversations. Answering machine messages. We don’t generally have the luxury of knowing in advance when ‘last’ times come. The luxury of savouring each millisecond and commiting each moment to memory. We usually only recognise them when they are past. The last time we hear someone’s voice or see them smile or hold them in our arms. 

In between the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death and September 11th this year Connie Johnson died. Boy, that chick knew how to live! And how to love! Connie was amazing. Her public memorial service was held in Melbourne today. If you are not familiar with Connie’s life and her work you can read up on her at loveyoursister.org  Please do! Or, you know, google. Look up Connie and what she was about. She left quite a legacy for everyone who loved her, especially her sons. But I bet they’d rather still have their Mum. 

Anniversaries, anniversaries, anniversaries. Whether it’s an hour or a day or twenty years they pack a punch. That’s loss I guess. That’s life. 

Even without working it out exactly I know that I have now lived longer without my Daughter Number One than I lived with her. I don’t need anniversaries to still feel the enormity of that loss. It is the way it is. This cartoon references mental illness but could just as easily relate to grief and loss for me. 

It’s not that I am unaffected now. Far from it. Just that it is what it is. I have lived longer without my Daughter than she lived her entire life. And however wrong that is, , however unbelievable, however fucking unfair, that’s the way it is. Knowing that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a night last week, as I turned the tv off and locked up the house, when I glanced at a photo of my Daughter and a sob burst from me with such force that it bent me double and I found myself on my knees, with tears streaming down my face saying over and over “Please come back! Please come back!”. But however much I plead and beg and cry she is never coming back. And the world keeps turning and the sun keeps rising. 

This year has been another one filled with loss, for me and people I hold dear. But not ours exclusively. Loss is the flip side of love. I try to focus, as best I can, on the love. It’s what there is left to hang on to. When all else is gone love is what remains. 

So I guess this is what I want to say today; love hard. Take the photo, make the phone call, send the message. Connect with the people you care about in any way available to to you! We have the technology! Get the most out of it! Send a video message or record a voice message. Do a video chat! Or go old school! Send a letter, write a card, post a care package. Let those you love know about it. You, your time and energy, are the most important gift you have to give. So invest in the people who matter to you, while you can. As much as you can for as long as you can. Savour it all. 

Safe onward travel x 

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THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME. 

This morning I woke up from a nightmare in which I was getting my children ready for some imminent apocalyptic event. I don’t remember what it was, I just remember speaking to my kids and trying to prepare them, in a detailed way, including instructions on what to do if separated from me, or from each other. They were smaller, younger, more vulnerable versions of themselves, just to add to the ambiance. I was talking to them in a very matter of fact way while in my head I was screaming because I knew it wasn’t enough, wasn’t enough, wasn’t enough and the very bad thing was coming and I couldn’t keep them safe. 


Yesterday I woke up from a dream that left me so disoriented that it literally took me a full sixty seconds, without exaggeration, to work out – first – where I was, but then, when I was. In that order, which is weird. Yesterday disappeared into a bit of a hole that I was unable to crawl my way out of. The level of exhaustion is hard to describe. I read somewhere that people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder feel so tired all the time because you are basically on high alert constantly. After nightmares all night (I will wake up several times during the night and even if I go back to sleep all I remember are nightmares) I slump into some days. My head pounds, I have chest pains and my limbs all feel like they are made of concrete. My whole body aches with heaviness. Everything, every. little. thing. requires such effort that, even if I can be bothered, a small task can take up most of the day. There are days I can’t even pretend to be a functional human being. 

I guess this is my annual Mother’s Day whinge. Feel free to stop reading. I don’t claim any exclusivity. Everyone has hard days and Mother’s Day is hard for lots of people, for many reasons. Childless mothers, motherless children, women who mother other people’s children, children and mothers who are separated by whatever circumstance. I don’t pretend my list is comprehensive. You all know who you are. 

For some, it will be their first Mother’s Day and for some it will be their first Mother’s Day since. For some, it will be both and that’s just the way it is. What I know is that as soon as Easter was over, literally the day after, shops were full of Mother’s Day merchandise. Mugs and slippers and photo frames everywhere you turn. Brochures in the letter box and advertisements on television and Mother’s Day espisodes of television shows. Choking up my newsfeed in every direction. A constant assault that is impossible to escape. And for me this year the added bonus of a later Mother’s Day bringing it even closer to the anniversary of my Daughter’s death. Two and a half weeks to go. Bonus. 

Would I have been a grandmother by now? I cried on the packed train today, silently, after scrolling past a mother guessing her daughter was pregnant on a facebook post. Bit, fat, hot tears that dropped singly from my lashes and felt like lava carving their way down my face. 

After tomorrow there will be marked down slippers, mugs and photo frames and that is nowhere near as fun as marked down Easter chocolate, nowhere near as fun at all. But the days, even the hard ones, pass. Just a bit slower. 

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Tonight I am baby sitting three rascals of the four legged kind. Two very special babies and the big brother of the little girl Son Number Two and I have staying with us; precious souls all of them and I am glad to be here. 
A friend asked me to edit her manuscript recently. I cannot possibly put into words what it meant to me to be trusted with that task, but it meant so much. It worked for me on a number of levels. 
I have friends I can text random things to and they will meet me where I am. I recently went to see a performance of live theatre. It was an incredibly moving adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank hosted by the Western Australian Academy of the Performing Arts. I’ve had lunch in the quiet, leafy grounds of a University and laughed at my Daughter Number Two and my Sons. I have felt the relief of cool nights after just warm enough days. Videos of small boys and big dogs that melt my heart. And, you know, marked down Easter chocolate. 

The best of times and the worst of times. 
For the rest of my life; the best of times and the worst of times. 
Safe onward travel x 

You Get What You Need.

Hello my lovely ones! It has been quite a day, full of funny farm antics. I’ll get to them in a minute but before I do I just want to say THANK YOU! You guys, my little old blog has had more than eight thousand hits! That blows my mind. I’m still in the most minor of the minor leagues but more than eight THOUSAND hits! Wow! I’d write anyway but it does give me a kick to know you are out there reading. Thanks for stopping by!

(Cue the theme from Hogan’s Heroes). The nurses come in to check on you regularly throughout the night. Just after six this morning I was awake when one paid a visit. My head under the blanket I stayed in my cocoon. I heard the nurse leave and felt two sharp jabs on my inner thigh. I jumped about three feet in the air and saw The Roommate leaning over my bed as the sheet and blankets flew off me. Oh hell no. OH. HELL. NO. But yes, she really, truly, had just come over and poked me. And she stood looking at me for another couple of heartbeats before she turned and silently scurried back to her side of the room.

That was it for me. Every instinct I had was urging me to put some distance between us so when my nurse asked me how I was this morning I told her. I understand the lady is unwell. i have empathy for her but her problems should not be my problem. Within half an hour The Roommate had been moved to a single room. I returned to my room and took some deep breaths.

An hour later I came out of my room to see The Roommate in a clearly agitated state in one of the courtyards. Two security personnel – they were wearing bright yellow nylon vests with ‘SECURITY’ on the back; I’m quick like that – were tag team talking to her, while the nursing staff talked about whether or not they’d move her to the locked unit. I do not know what had happened in that hour, nor do I want to know but my increasing feeling was that I had dodged a bullet.

Security stayed with her for the next few hours and since then she has had a nurse shadowing her every move. As I write there is one sitting on a chair outside her door. By days end I had a new roommate but this one isn’t generating skin crawling uneasiness. She seems to understand personal space. So far, so tolerable.

So, now we’ve covered funny odd let’s move on to funny ha ha! I washed my clothes today and hung them out to dry. When I went to collect them they were nowhere to be found. Not on the line. Not in the laundry, not in any of the common areas. I asked the nurse, she couldn’t find them. She asked her superior and the three of us couldn’t find them. By this time, being in possession of only the clothes I stood in, the ludicrousness of the situation had begun to get the better of me. So when the supervising nurse said ‘Now, are you sure you haven’t brought them in and forgotten?’ I started laughing. I expect they hear stranger things all the time. All your clothes are gone? Oh yes, dear, of course they are! As I laughed the supervisor shrugged her shoulders, cocked an eyebrow and said ‘Ah well, it was worth a try’.

Not much else that could be done so I retired to my room. Later on I saw a note on one of the whiteboards. Someone had brought my clothes in and was keeping them safe in their room for me, so they didn’t get stolen. Aww! Mystery solved and all’s well that ends well.

Does that mean all’s bad that ends badly? I don’t think so. Life is a mixed bag. You can’t have the lows without the highs and vice versa. Sometimes you’ve just got to go with it. I listened to my instincts today. You live and you learn. It’s just that some people have to keep learning the hard way. And you know what guys? I’m not even talking about me!

Be good to each other x

No One Remembers Your Name.

My new room mate, who is German, continues to use the toilet without closing the door or flushing. Doors appear to be a thing for her, as she ran to get a nurse after thinking I’d locked the door of the room, and her out. Ah, no. The Roommate seems completely obsessed by meals, although perhaps it is the routine she is trying to grasp. Who knows? There is lots of repetitive questioning. And she stands and watches me. It is not comforting.

You can’t have your telephone charger although whether you are meant to hang yourself with it or chuck it into water to electrocute yourself I’m not sure. Both would be physically impossible. I’ve checked the positioning of powerpoints in relation to water sources. Yes, I’m that hard up for entertainment. I’ve not had access to my charger to check the hanging thing but never the less believe it unlikely to be successful due to cord length and weight bearing properties. Sometimes it’s plastic cutlery but then sometimes it’s metal, much to everyone’s excitement.

There is a guy who I think is Russian. He keeps having heated mobile phone conversations in a Slavic sounding language. This afternoon I walked past his room to witness accompanying finger pointing. It was very dramatic.

Tonight I came out to the common areas to see an older lady, petite, sitting with her husband who had come to visit her. Her feet in his lap, eating an Easter egg he’d brought for her.

Still better to have loved and lost, ladies and gentlemen. Always.

We Gotta Get Out of This Place.

I have lost the love of my life. I have lost my home and everything that has been so dear to me for so long. It hurts like you would not believe but that is the reality. It falls into the category of things I cannot change. If I could change it I would, but I can’t.

What I can change, what I need to change, is where I am because if I stay here I surely WILL lose my mind. Last night I was treated to a man a few doors down yelling for twenty minutes. “You fucking bitch! I’ll kill ya you c@$t!” Over and over again, variations on the same theme.

This morning my new roommate has used the toilet. In our shared room. With the door open. Which is how I know exactly what she has done and that she hasn’t flushed. If I was feeling generous I’d give her a point for washing her hands but SHE USED THE TOILET WITH THE DOOR OPEN AND DIDN’T FLUSH! And so the only place here where I felt almost able to relax, my room, is now compromised. Fuck.

So, it’s well and truly time to blow this pop stand. I don’t think it is going to be easy. I literally have nowhere to go, which makes an argument for discharge an uphill battle. But I cannot stay here. Bottom line.

I had a lengthy conversation with a lovely friend last night. There are no words really to express how much I appreciate the love and support that has been coming my way. Thank you for bearing with me. I hope you stick around to see what happens next!

Everybody’s doing a brand new dance now.

So far today one woman has attacked another, a code black was called and then fifteen minutes later staff advised over the intercom to ‘stand down’, the alarms have gone off three times (and the day isn’t done yet) and as I write a staff member, male, has stopped outside my door and asked a female staff member to come with him as ‘there’s a female arcing up and I need a female with me’. Cue more shouting and screaming.

‘Do you feel safe?’ they keep asking. Ah, no. I may be crazy but I’m not stupid. Most of the people here have been here before. They know each other. There is a camaraderie that I don’t want to develop. There is a competitiveness about medications and war stories and I watch in bemusement. My roommate, who arrived on the same day as I, is being discharged. This is very good for her and very bad for me. She was the least threatening person here and I am apprehensive about who will take her bed.

There is an unlocked area and a locked area. When people have violent outbursts they are moved to the locked area. Then moved back to the unlocked area. Excellent. There is communal dining, which is noisy and painful and my nurse tonight is lovely but very touchy feely and DO I LOOK LIKE I WANT TO BE TOUCHED? But I say nothing.

I wonder at the state of my life. This whole situation was brought about by the evil machinations of another, which continue unabated. You know, I wouldn’t have believed it possible but here we are. On the plus side; I’m still losing weight.

If I only had a Brain.

I don’t think I will find any kindred spirits here, but then I haven’t much spirit left. There’s a fair bit of denial within me tonight. This can’t be right. I cannot really be here. But then I remember I’ve nowhere else to be. I don’t think I have ever felt as alone as I do right now.

I’ve probably mentioned, dear readers, that I find social situations awkward. I’m not really a joiner. But my morning health professional encouraged my participation in a therapeutic group.

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. I’ve had some loooong hours in my life but I felt every second in that little room. The two young occupational therapists were enthusiastic and attractive, the female with an Irish accent.

To my left was a young male with angry looking sores all over his body. He was very vocal about being conditioned by the system and labelled by the organizations. Passionately vocal. To my right was an older gentleman with no anger issues, except for the time he threatened a magistrate and two lawyers and how last August he threw a chair around the room at a course he was doing and took out seven computers. Then there were two women perhaps my age or younger? Both blond and tanned and over accessorised, who talked about their stays in rehab. And all the while in an adjacent room someone else screamed and shouted for the duration. You’ll forgive me for missing afternoon arts and crafts.

I just want my safe place. I just want my home. There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home. But the witch and her flying monkeys seem to have won.

That’s not the way the story is meant to end.

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