Hello …

Hello, it’s me.  I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet?

 

I must have listened to this song from Adele about 50 times since it’s release a couple of weeks ago.  It was speaking to me but I couldn’t quite work out how.  I didn’t have a broken love relationship I wanted to mend … or did I?  Could it be talking to my relationship with myself?

To go over everything
They say that time’s supposed to heal ya
But I ain’t done much healing

I have shared about my relationship with anxiety and body issues previously.  It’s no secret that I have been on meds for many years and have felt the benefits of those meds for most of them.  Counselling has been something I have always used for emergencies – to get me up and running and productive again.  It has not been something ongoing … that is until  a year ago.

When we were younger and free
I’ve forgotten how it felt before the world fell at our feet

About 2 years ago, I had been unhappy and depressed with my inability to cope with the ongoing grief from losing my husband Adrian, to cancer in 2009.  I felt I was not moving forward but was stuck and if anything  -feeling worse.   I know that grief is not measurable and different for everyone but I felt, for me, I was going backwards.  So after a discussion with my GP, we decided to change the meds I had been on for about 15 years and try something new.  I am not going to name drugs here but both the one I had been taking and the new one are very widely accepted and successful, with few side effects.  And so we did!

Hello from the other side
I must have called a thousand times
To tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done
But when I call you never seem to be home

Life went on pretty much as normal for me.  Many ups and downs in my everyday existence, coupled with some big changes e.g I sold the family home and bought myself a unit; I lost a couple of close friends and family members to illness and old age; my Boys had some major changes in their lives that needed my support and some financial struggles.  Within 6 months my depression had increased significantly but more importantly I began to suffer severe anxiety, which culminated in panic attacks and avoidance of leaving my home.  This was totally new to me and I did not like it!  Because of the stresses going on around me, I felt it must be due to them.  By this time my life had pretty much ceased.  I could no longer work productively and day to day living was a real struggle.  So I decided it was time for therapy.

Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I’ve tried

I began seeing a wonderful Psychologist and we clicked immediately.  I liked that we were not spending hours on what had happened earlier in my life but rather learning strategies to manage my anxiety and move forward in my life.  The progress has been slow and I was continuing to get destructive, debilitating periods that would occasionally stop me in my tracks.  I often knew what to do but seemed unable to do anything about it.  We continued to practise the techniques but I was feeling like the light in the tunnel was far away.

Hello, how are you
It’s so typical of me to talk about myself I’m sorry

tunnel

About this time I had to change GP’s and my new doctor suggested I see a Psychiatrist to have a medical review.  Although I was terrified of being found out a fraud (which apparently I’m not!!!) I agreed.  After a couple of visits it was decided to increase the current medication I was on – which caused an immediate escalation of anxiety and symptoms.  I previously wrote about it here.   It was not fun but I stuck it out for the required 2 weeks.  As my reaction had been so extreme, it got the Dr’s thinking … instead of a change, it was suggested that I wean off all my anxiety meds – slowly …. and see how I felt!  Again, scary but I had to do something!  So I agreed.

It’s no secret that the both of us
Are running out of time

It’s now 6 weeks since I began cutting back on my meds and 4 weeks that I have been off everything.  I can’t believe how different I feel!  I have suffered zero panic attacks and have been able to slowly resume my everyday life.  I took this chance, knowing that Christmas, overseas visitors and overseas travel for myself were on the horizon.  So far so good!

This does not mean I have had NO anxious moments or down days – but rather, when they do occur I have been able to use my strategies to minimize the impact on my day to day living.  I am taking small, supported steps.  My friends and family say they have noticed positive change.  I am glad because it is they, who have carried me in the dark days.  I believe them.  I trust their opinions.

I am NOT advocating that medication is bad.  I am NOT saying that everyone should stop taking it.  I am NOT saying that anyone should stop taking it.   I am NOT wanting anyone to change anything.  It is fairly clear to my Dr’s and myself, that I was having a bad reaction to one type of anti anxiety medication.  I have been on other meds for many years with good results.  I have also had short periods off all meds, over the last 30 years but have always ended up going back on.  This is exactly what I will do, if things do not continue to progress well.  Obviously, not the same one but another more suitable one, for me.  Hopefully, this will not be necessary.  The difference this time, is that I am continuing with ongoing Therapy while off meds.

If you want to change anything about your treatment, you must talk with your doctors BEFORE  you do anything!

With all this in mind, 2016 is looking positive for me.  I will relaunch my blog and add a Facebook page very early in the new year.  I will travel to New Zealand  to have Christmas with my Mum, Sister, Brother and their families.  I am really excited to be catching up with some school/university friends I haven’t seen for 30 years!  I will, hopefully, find some  more permanent employment to help with the finances.  I will most definitely continue with my new love – writing.  I will continue to love and forgive myself  and bask in the fact that I’m not torn apart – anymore!

As Adele says …

Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I’ve tried
To tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart
But it don’t matter it clearly doesn’t tear you apart anymore

 

Taking Stock – December Edition!

It was feeling like it was time to take stock again.  I really encourage you to have a quiet 30mins to yourself and do your own.  If you do want to do it yourself, I’ve added a blank template at the end.  If you publish on your own blog,  please credit Pip with the idea.

 

Making:  Decisions about a blog redesign and goals and direction.

Cooking:  Christmas wreath pavlova with berries and cream.

Xmas pav

Drinking:  Bubbly carbonated water from my new Soda Stream but it’s just not as bubbly as I remember it was as a kid!

Reading:  A great book on the practice of developing your creative writing. Truly the most useful book, called Writing Down the Bones (Freeing the Writer Within) by Natalie Goldberg

Wanting:  My paperwork to file itself.  I don’t know why I don’t do it as it comes.  How many years do you have to keep paperwork again?

Looking:  At the world in a new light through, my new glasses from Specsavers.  My sight has deteriorated significantly in my right eye, so it’s no wonder my eyes have been feeling so tired!  Also, love new frames.

Playing:  Christmas music from those old cd’s that you used to get free with Christmas edition magazines!  I have heaps – I used to buy All the magazines!!

Deciding:  What to give my boys for Christmas this year.  They will be together – I will be away.  They don’t know what they want and neither do I know what to get!

Wishing:  For just one more Christmas with Adrian.  I know it’s impossible but it does say wishing.

Enjoying:  Watching how easily my Boys slip back into the brotherly groove, even when they have not seen each other for 3 years and they are now 24, 30 & 32.  No doubt – something will be broken!!

Waiting:  For the postman to deliver my online gift purchases.  Everyday is a surprise as to what I will be wrapping each night.

Liking:  The way my tentative foray into gardening, is starting to show with patches of colour beginning to appear throughout.

Wondering:  How inspired I am going to be, when I get to hear Oprah on her  speaking tour in 10 days time?  Very, I hope – bucket list ticking  off happening that night.

Loving:  The way my love for life seems to be returning, after a very long couple of years.  Tiny steps on sure and stable ground.

Pondering:  On how I will financially sustain myself in the coming year?  Is there a job that I haven’t thought of yet, that will give me all I need?

Considering:  What the  best way to develop my writing is and if it really is a way to  help anyone else or just myself?

Buying:  New underwear from Bella Bodies ….. bamboo, people – very cooling!

Watching:  The Queensland storms roll in each afternoon.

Hoping:  Those storms bring cooling rain to clear the humidity – not just thunder, lightning and wind.

699529-storm-brisbane

Marvelling:  At my cat’s loyalty  to me, when I continually bring out my suitcase, and go away on holiday!  Off to New Zealand for Christmas with my extended family in, 12 days!

Cringing:  At the Channel 9 Cricket commentators.  Is anything more embarrassing?

Needing:  A  small garden shed and a decent office chair – for totally different reasons …. obviously!!

Questioning:  Everyone about what they would like for Christmas but desperately wanting to give surprises!

Smelling:  My beautiful  Night Before Christmas (Dancing Sugar Plums) candle by Megan Hess for Glasshouse Fragrances.

Wearing:  New comfy  Summer sandals by Rivers and loving them sick.9388WSAND_SANDTAUPE_side

Following:  The preseason and the drafting of the new Brisbane Lions players for 2016.

Noticing:  More and more, that if you take care of yourself, you are better prepared to care for others.

Knowing:  That I Can Do Hard Things and Love does Win! Thank you Glennon Doyle Melton.

Thinking:  “I’m contemplating, thinkin’ about thinkin’…” some of my favourite lyrics from Robbie Williams song, Come Undone! (Warning: Disturbing Clip!!!!)

Admiring:  The wonderful way the New Zealand Community said goodbye to the Legend that was Jonah Lomu.

Sorting:  Through my cupboards and giving to charity those things that others could put to better use than me.

Getting:  Excited about my trip home to my Mum’s in New Zealand for Christmas.  Leave in 12 days!!

Bookmarking:  Small garden shed adverts from Bunnings and sending them to my Boys!!

Coveting:  Not much really – feeling very contented at the moment.

Disliking:  The Brisbane heat and especially the humidity.  Chaffing and sweating are not my friends.

Opening: A cold bottle of New Zealand Sav Blanc on this hot Brisbane arvo.

Giggling:  At everything Jimmy Fallon does!  Love him so much.

Feeling:  Blessed to have caring friends and family, who encourage me to take risks with my life.  But, also, give me a safe place to land if things go wrong.

Snacking:  On fresh, raw, green beans and MANGOES!!!!!

Helping:  To support local business by shopping at Millie Jones – my favourite gift shop in the world!

Hearing:  The sound of the birds, as I spend some time outside in my garden, watering.

There’s mine done. Have a go at your own – it can be very revealing.

Here’s a blank one if you want to.

Making :
Cooking :
Drinking :
Reading:
Wanting:
Looking:
Playing:
Deciding:
Wishing:
Enjoying:
Waiting:
Liking:
Wondering:
Loving:
Pondering:
Considering:
Buying:
Watching:
Hoping:
Marvelling:
Cringing:
Needing:
Questioning:
Smelling:
Wearing:
Following:
Noticing:
Knowing:
Thinking:
Admiring:
Sorting:
Getting:
Bookmarking:
Coveting:
Disliking:
Opening:
Giggling:
Feeling:
Snacking:
Helping:
Hearing:

From Pip at Meet Me At Mikes

 

Weekend Alone!

BerlinBoy is back from Germany for 7 weeks holiday.  It’s been a mad few days of jetlag, heat & humidity, family  of 4 fun and everybody getting used to each other again!  Well, it has been almost 4 years!  Boys, boys, boys!  When did they all turn into men?  My constant thought, when they are together is – Something is going to get broken!!  They are all so big and my little unit is so small!  So far so good.

This weekend, they have taken themselves off to the Jungle Love  Festival, where BabyBoy and his band, In Void, will be playing.  The other 2 have gone as Roadies… They are camping – not something they are overly used to doing and storms are predicted – BUT they are not here and I have a glorious few days alone.

I am looking forward to a weekend of writing and thinking and planning.  This little blog will be going through some serious changes over the next few weeks.  A bit of a makeover for The Mandy Diaries, with the addition of its own Facebook page and email, as well as changes to the format of this page.  There will be regular posting days and maybe a weekly newsletter.

No need to worry … I will still be Me, writing about my perspective on my daily life.  I would hope that the changes will generate more conversations with you, my Readers, but if not – I will continue to write and publish my words because I think that is what I am – a Writer!

2015-11-20 23.02.52
Sneaky photo taken by my friend Marg, late one night and yes, we were at Macca’s! I had no idea these words were on the wall behind me – but so appropriate.  Thanks Marg xx

Can you detect a change in me?  Well, over the last few weeks I have been on a journey with my mental health practitioners.  And for the first time in a long time, I feel like I am winning.  More on that in another post after the relaunch in January.  I’m still travelling on that journey and I don’t want to jump the gun and go to early.  Needless to say, I feel excited and happy leading into Christmas.

This weekend, will also, see me doing some other of my favourite things.  Watching the Cricket Test between New Zealand and Australia; eating fresh Summer platters of food that I have prepared for myself, even though it is still Spring; decorating the house for Christmas – although this will be modified as I will not be home for Christmas but will travel to New Zealand to spend it with my extended family and friends; and wrapping gifts, as my Australian Christmas celebrations begin next week before I fly out in 2 weeks time.

2015-11-28 18.57.14-1.jpg

I hope your weekend will be a great one?

What will you be doing?

What Can I Do?

When I went to bed last night,  I didn’t shower or wash my makeup off and I didn’t brush my teeth.  I felt dirty!  I wanted to feel dirty!

I couldn’t lie in my soft bed, in my safe house, after eating my Vietnamese pork roll,  while the Children of Syria slept or should I say, closed their eyes, however they could.   Scared, hungry, alone, cold, tired, sick ….. dirty!  The least I could do, was to go to bed dirty!  I had been looking at the harrowing photographs and reading the gut wrenching stories of the refugee children of Syria originally posted on  Buzz Feed.   Copyright – Magnus Wennman / Aftonbladet / REX Shutterstock

It took me forever to go to sleep.  I was restless and uncomfortable in my safety.  I woke early  and even before I had opened my eyes, tears were wetting my pillow.  As I looked at my makeup smudged face in the mirror, I recalled a conversation by text message I had with a dear friend, the previous night.  I was lamenting the fact of having almost no words to express myself and my final words had been that I just don’t know what to do!!  My friend’s reply had been swift – Blog it! And see what ideas others have about what to do!  But did I have the necessary words?

So I made my way to the sea and sat and looked at the peaceful scene around me.  Slowly, I could feel the words returning.  My soul opened just enough to let the gap left by the tears I had shed earlier, be filled with the beauty of the glistening water.

glistening

My heart, previously, so weighed down with the fear of what might be, began to soar with the seagulls and pelicans, with the possibilities of what could be!

seagull pelican

The warmth of the sun and the cool of the ocean breeze cleared my thoughts and gave me confidence in my ability to share what was troubling me.

I am not one trained in the complexities of the religious or political arguments of the refugees  both here in Australia and other parts of our world.  But I am someone deeply disturbed by the plight of those that have so little when I have so much!

All I know is that the situation as it is at the moment is not right.  If I choose to ignore those mothers and fathers and children who are in dire need and rather choose to generalise and ignore and teach hate and suspicion – then the terrorists have won.  I refuse to let the terrorists win!  I choose love and understanding and acceptance …. not blindly and without caution.  But with compassion and discernment and a listening ear and a gentle hand.

This beautiful video clip has been doing the rounds of the social media pages but it spoke to my heart in a way that nothing else has this week.

This father and son, taught me that the things that I can do, may be the simple but important work of reassuring a child of their safety and teaching them that love can win.  It may be the highlighting of the beautiful in the world through words and pictures, to counter balance the fear and hatred so freely plastered across our televisions and newspapers.  It may be financial support if I can afford it.  It may be to speak up when I hear generalisations about culture or religion or race.  It may be to pray.  It may be  to provoke thought where there has previously been none.  It may be  to give a forum for us to discuss our fears, here – in a safe environment.

I do not wish this post to become a for or against slanging match, about the political or religious solutions being thrown around.  But rather a positive sharing of ideas and thoughts of what I  can do!  I know that many of us want to do something but just don’t know what!  Please share in the comments your thoughts and ideas.

What can I do? 

Share ….

change

 

 

 

Feeling All The Feels.

I knew it would happen.  I didn’t know when or where but it wasn’t unexpected.  This morning was the when and lying in my bed was the where.  My eyes started leaking before I had even opened them.  My heart had been filling up for the last five days and I hadn’t been able to process its contents.  I had been an empty bucket, catching sadness and reaction and tears and despair.  Filling up, drip by drip by dam burst! And today I overflowed.  My heart was full and my sadness flowed down my cheeks and onto my pillow and made a little room in my heart and mind for processing.  So this morning I will not stop the tears.  They are silent and I am able to function in their company.  I welcome them.  They will accompany me and cleanse me.  Later, I will head to the sea to sit and write about feeling all the feels ….

Everywhere

My Mother’s Hands.

Have you ever looked at a part of your body and realised that it is no longer yours but someone else’s?  I did exactly that last week.

Over the past few months, I have become a bit obsessed with my fingernails.  I have always wanted nice, strong nails like my sister and my Dad.  But unfortunately, mine were weak and flaky and brittle and a bit chewed.  If I painted them, I would pick at the polish – chipping and gnawing – until not only the polish came off but the nail usually broke as well.  If they did happen to grow enough to need cutting or filing, they would almost certainly split and peel during the process.

Split nails I tried  a professional manicure.   It looked okay for a day or so, but then the breaking and splitting began.  I tried shellac and that was great while on, but it took almost 6 months for some healthy-ish nails to return after!Nails didHardners.  Hand Cream.  Gloves for gardening and washing up.  Conditioning oil. Nothing worked.  Then I began taking a zinc supplement to support my immune system for something else.  Within 2 months I was sporting long-ish, healthy, stronger nails!  Truly a miracle!  Mind you, those things are dangerous.  You can take out your eye when applying your make-up.   Or draw blood when blowing your nose!  Not to mention getting in the way when you are …. typing!!

Last week, while filing and moisturising my new and gorgeous nails,  I looked down at my hands and suddenly knew that I was looking at my mother’s hands!  Not MY hands but my MOTHER’S hands!  Somewhere, sometime, MY hands had become my MOTHER’S!!  Now, my mother’s hands are lovely hands for an 85-year-old person but not so much for a 56-year-old person!

Faaaaab

I was in shock!  My hands were wrinkly and crinkly.  They were dry and worn. They had bumps and bruises and some of the veins stuck out.  They had sun spots and an indent where my wedding ring usually was.   My hands.  My mother’s hands.

I began to think about all the things that my mother’s hands had done.

They had stroked my hair when I was sick or tired or sad.  They had cleaned my home and the homes of others, to keep me safe and to give me holidays.  They had opened her purse to give me money.  They had prepared healthy and delicious meals for me.  They had knitted ponchos so that I could be the height of fashion in the 1970’s.  They had baked incredible birthday cakes that made my eyes shine with delight.  They had sewed pretty clothes and toys.  They had written letters of encouragement and of admonition to  me when needed.  And they had been clasped together in prayer for me for 56 years!

6052788-hands-of-an-old-woman-on-her-knees

So now, when I look at my hands, I am no longer admiring my new beautiful nails.  I am recognising that my hands have indeed become my mother’s hands …. and I am so proud.

Restless Observations!

Birds chatter.  Parrots close by, crows far away.  A tiny unseen bird, making a loud chirrup.  Mud wasps buzzing to and fro, building their caves.  Occasionally, a gecko barks – the sound too big for its tiny body.  Flies and dragonflies click their wings as they zoom by my pen and notebook – no keyboard for me today, it would seem intrusive somehow.  I clap as a crow approaches.  There is a rustle of wings as it leaves.  I know it will return but for now calm prevails.

A breeze rustles the trees and a pure note sounds from the wind chime hanging by the door.  Once again, I am reminded that especially when I feel far away, God is here, even as the chime announces the unseen breeze.

Unsettled skies of blue and grey.  A storm?  Later maybe.  The dampness of the earth from last nights drenching, rises with the warmth of the sun.  The smell mingles with the strong sweetness of the jasmine growing back behind the fence.  These two combined with another …. the neighbours washing – drying on the line, almost become too much for my nose to take in.

A stark block wall.  Brown.  Foreboding.  But two spots of colour.  Yellow and pink – planted with a hopeful heart and willing hands.  Growing, flowering where I planted them.  Light in a tunnel.  Hope!

2015-11-04 09.05.29-1

The star jasmine cascades over my neighbour’s wall.  It, too, was once stark and foreboding.  The creamy flowers contrast with the green of the foliage that is peeking over and between the fence.  Bottlebrush red is beginning – maybe tomorrow it will be my turn.  Maybe tomorrow the birds will burst into my yard to feast on the nectar held within those promising buds.

Shadows throw across the lawn making it seem more patchy than it is in truth.  The mixture of grass, weeds and moss surround the bird bath – alone, full, waiting with anticipation.  Be patient, I silently tell myself.  They will return.  They will find their way back to this place of safety and peace.  By removing some palm trees from my yard, I have changed their environment but the birds will return.  They will remember the sanctuary.  It is just change, it takes time.

The previously unseen fence teases with lime green shoots peeking over and through the palings.  Promises of new life and growth.  The fence itself tells its story.  Mismatched boards nailed together.  Some old and worn, some new – all useful, all fence.

In the distance, traffic and school ground happy voices.  High above, an aeroplane approaches and then fades.  Someone’s going home, I think.

Closer, a gardener is mowing and blowing leaves.  Loud, unpleasant, persistent!  A door slams.  Jarring!  Voices disturb. Pungent cigarette smoke reaches over and grabs my nostrils.

Peace is over, time to go!