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

 

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Easy Option? I Don’t Think So!

Go to bed early.  Set the alarm for 12:30am.   Wake up and watch the All Blacks win their Rugby World Cup semi final, then stay up and watch Arsenal beat Everton in the English Premier League!  Too easy … I have a plan.  I need a plan because my sleep has been all up the creek for days and I really need the shut-eye before the games begin – if I want to see them through.

Arrow haka

It had been a week and a bit since I had slept any longer than 4 hours straight.  Yeah, I know – Mum’s & Dad’s with new babies would kill for 4 hours sleep in a row!  But I am not a Mum with a new bub.  I am a 56-year-old woman who feels like she has been living in the Twilight Zone.  I am going through a medication review and the new dosage has been playing havoc with my system.  I promised my doctor that I would hang in there for another week to see if I improve, or at least settle down.

So Everybody, I’m taking the easy option!  Take anti anxiety & depression meds – that’s the easy option …. the cop-out option.  Not so my friends …. well at least not for me.  So, what does an increase in medication dosage do to me?  Yes, you read correctly – this is just an increase in dosage.  Not even a change of medication!  I’ve got that to look forward to next, if this increase doesn’t work.

It begins with a never-ending dry mouth.  And I mean parched or as we say in Australia as dry as a dead dingo’s donger!  This is immediately accompanied by  the inability to sleep …. at least at night-time!  Sit me down anytime during the day  and I may fall asleep in the middle of using the toilet; typing on the laptop or stopped at traffic lights!  Therefore, for me, driving is not the safest past time.

strewth-mate-im-as-dry-as-a-dead-dingos-donger

The next fun thing to arrive, is a drastic increase in my anxiety levels.   That means things that I may be well on the way to conquering and controlling, all of a sudden become HUGE  again.  Everyday stuff like personal hygiene, collecting the mail and hanging the washing on the line are no longer doable.  Socializing, whether for work or otherwise, is just not going to happen.  High anxiety causes my stomach to be unhappy, which leads to …. well, we all know what that leads to!

anxiety-cartoon-drawingCome on down manic thought processing!  Yes, next my mind is racing with ideas and song lyrics and to do lists and recipes and words plenty of words.  I am unable to write anything.  I can’t organise my thoughts enough to make any sense.  Unfortunately, my body is only wanting to move at Sloth pace …. that would be a Sloth with the shakes!!  Not at all helpful when your mind is going 100 miles an hour.

sloth

The last couple of goodies that I get to enjoy, are forgetfulness and avoidance leading to almost complete withdrawal.  I, also, seem to crave dairy products but this may just be my thoughtful heart, once again, trying to support the Dairy industry!

anxiety2

So there you have it.  Me, a week and bit into a medication review and all I want to do is get some sleep before the Rugby match.  Not going to happen!  I actually get into bed and turn off the light but for the first time in over a week, I feel like writing something.  I’ve had quite a good day.  I took the rubbish down to the bins.  I showered.  I drove to the Garden Centre and bought some plants.  I planted the plants in my garden.  I prepared and ate three healthy meals today as well!

So up I get.  Out of bed and here I sit typing away.  Sharing by word, what that easy option of meds looks like for me.  Each person will be different.  Some breeze through, many are much worse.

For me – I had a good day!  Maybe I will continue to feel good tomorrow as well.  Either way, nothing about anxiety and depression is easy.  Not the suffering or the road back to good health.  I would never choose it for myself and I will use what ever means the doctors think will help me rediscover the old me again, even if that includes medication.  The alternative is simply unbearable.

Go the All Blacks and the Gunners!  Make my day a fabulous one!

Jon Weber – Artist!

I am in the middle of an anxiety medication increase.  This has caused me to  be more anxious and riddled with self-doubt, as to if I will ever be the old me again.

In the midst of this wondering if I can actually do anything positive or productive again – a short documentary dropped into my inbox.  After watching it, I don’t have to stress about that anymore – I realised that I have already produced some amazing things in my life.

Meet one of them.

My son.  BossBoy.

Jon Weber – Artist.

Thank you to Jon and his friend Jim, for allowing me to share their work.

You can see more of Jon’s work at https://jonweberart.squarespace.com/art/

#proudmum

Thank you ….

How do you thank somebody who constantly goes beyond the bonds of friendship for you?  This is a question that I ask myself every day.

support

When I ask these pillars of my life what I can do to show my appreciation – the answer is always the same.

I am happy to do it for you.  I don’t need anything.  Glad I can be there for you.  If you want to do something, help someone else …. pay it forward. 

Opportunities to pay it forward are not always available to me.  Often I don’t have the financial means to say thank you in the way I would like.  If finances are tight, which they usually are, you can be sure that I will want to send flowers!!!! I’m sure it’s because I love to receive flowers as a gift, that I harbour this want.   Maybe if I grow some flowers in my garden, I may be able to fulfill this desire.  My garden needs a lot of work so don’t hold your breath, Pillars!

2015-08-25 10.23.08-1

A simple Thank you, verbally, just doesn’t seem enough.  I mean, these people go into battle for me!  And not just once, but over and over and over.

boy_protects_girl

Being there for them in their time of need is also a good idea.  But most of them have families and spouses to support them.  They choose not to let me know when they are in need because they don’t wish to burden me.Thank you gift wrapSo what to do?

The longer I need to rely on others, the more I ponder this question.  Maybe, my job is to just do all I can do to improve my mental and physical health & well-being?

friends are pillars

Maybe, this is the best way to show my appreciation to my Mandy Pillars!

Driving Mrs Crazy!

I was terrified!   I was in a new country, in the country and I was sitting behind the steering wheel of a car for the very first time. I had no idea what I was doing or if I actually wanted to do it but I knew it was important. It was important to my brand spanking new husband and therefore to me.

Driving, was some place that no woman in my family had ever gone before. It hadn’t been necessary – Dad was a Taxi driver and my friends could drive and there were buses and walking from where I came from. But here I was, in the Outback of Queensland, Australia, having my very first driving lesson!

That first time, is etched in my mind with such clarity, that even though it took place 30 years ago, the fear is recalled easily. I was on a red dirt road with no lanes or lines and certainly no other traffic. It was flat. It was straight. It was sunny. The person I trusted most in the world was sitting beside me and I was still terrified!

I was certain I would crash … into a tree or another car or a person or a kangaroo. My husband assured me that none of the above was going to happen and so I placed my hands on the steering wheel, gripping it so tightly that my knuckles turned white, and whispered that I was ready. I listened intently to the instructions about relaxing my grip, checking my mirrors, putting in the clutch and finding the gear. As I eased my foot off the brake, I felt the car inch slowly forward. It was about this time that a large kangaroo decided to bound across the red dirt road in front of me and into the scrub on the other side of the track. What happened next is a blur but I know that the driving lesson ceased and there was a lot of “I told you so” and “I’m never driving again” and “Take me home, NOW!!”

kangaroo

It took a long time to get me back behind the wheel of a car again.   I did resume lessons and I did eventually get my license but it took many hours of patient coaxing, a visit to a psychiatrist and a bag or three of chips!   As well as anxiety, I am what I call directionally challenged.  My left and right get confused and I have been known to indicate left and turn right ….. which I did during my driving test with the policeman in my car.  It turned out okay, though, because my husband was also in the car when I took my test, as I refused to drive without him being there.  This was lucky as he was able to explain to the cop that sometimes I got a little confused but mostly I was good and he promised him that I would only be driving in straight lines at the beginning!  The country cop gave me a pass and suggested that my husband take me for driving practise as much as possible BUT to always inform the said cop when I would be on the road, so that he could take a coffee break at the precise time!

My driving improved with practise, a bag of chips to munch as I drove and the purchase of an automatic car!  I still had trouble with overtaking for a long time, especially the trucks and road trains that used to frequent the country highways.  I can remember, many times that Adrian and I would swap seats when we caught up to a large vehicle and he would do the overtake and then put enough distance between the truck and our car, for me to jump back in and drive the long straight road until we caught up with another one!

volvo_fl12_b_double_at_warwick

And today, 30 years later, I am a confident, competent driver, who can do her own overtaking.  I am forever grateful to that policeman and my husband for keeping me driving.  Driving has given me a freedom and independence that I would never have known.  It meant that when my husband died, I was still able to maintain many of my activities and lifestyle.  For the last 25 years I have lived in the city, which means driving in busy traffic conditions but not so many road trains and trucks. For that I am grateful.  I do, however, live in close proximity to Pooh Corner, which is home to one of, if not the last population of Eastern Grey Kangaroos in Brisbane.  Each time I come across a Roo or a Wallaby, my mind returns to my first ever driving lesson in Outback Queensland, Australia and think about how far I have come!

Adulting!

Some days I surprise myself and actually do what I call Adulting!  Today is one of those days.

What exactly is adulting?  Well, for me it’s a day when I do (all of the things)  some of the things, that need to be done.  That can mean basic stuff like getting out of bed, showering, eating and  brushing your teeth.

Snow white adulting

Important stuff like blogging, reading other people’s blogs, checking in with other social media and playing Candy Crush Saga!  Intertwined with all the basic stuff and important stuff is the additional stuff like washing the clothes, cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming!  Then there is the really hard stuff  like making phone calls, or going to collect the mail, or talking to my neighbours and actually hanging my washing outside on the clothesline!

Adulting 101

On an adulting day, I am able to multi task and usually do two or more of these things simultaneously!  I know – I even surprise myself on these days!

wow adulting

So today, for example, I have the dishwasher AND the washing machine running at the same time.  Yes, you read correctly the SAME time.  But there is more ….. I already have one load of washing pegged outside on the line, drying in the sun.  I  have, also, eaten a healthy breakfast, got dressed, fed the cat, mopped the first layer of cats fur up from under my bed AND pulled the vacuum cleaner out, in the hope of getting rid of the other hundreds of layers of Fev Fluff, from my bedroom!!

I’m trying desperately, to not get ahead of myself but I’m just a little bit excited because I’ve already written a couple of blog posts to be published later AND I’m drinking water!!!!

2015-09-22 10.31.47

Okay, I have eleven minutes before the next load of washing is ready to hang out and I’ve hit a roadblock ….. my neighbour is now sitting outside, near the fence where I need to hang out my washing!  Can I hang washing and talk to my neighbour?

blog-adulting

I’m in luck – neighbour has gone inside, so washing will get hung out and small talking (blergh) will not be necessary!

How do you go with Adulting?  

What is your definition?

Listen To Your Heart.

The last 5 months have been very tough for me.  There has been much interstate travel (which I am getting better at), changes in my work status, more ill-health than is manageable, injury and of course the necessary move of my *MIL out of her home of 30 years, into a Nursing Home and the subsequent declining of her health and finally her death.

2015-08-05 15.23.25
The last time I saw my MIL. Such a happy pic!

Pleasingly, to me, I have not fallen into an immediate heap, as has been the normal pattern of behaviour for me – especially when things stop!  I have, however, felt the desire for a servant in my home; the yearning for a beautiful garden to lift my flagging spirit; the urge to eat everything custard (but not banana custard, Mum) for every meal; and for friends and family to magically appear when I want company and disappear when I don’t!

I spoke to my Psychologist, yesterday, about how I was feeling guilty because I have not yet cried at the death of my much-loved MIL.  I simply feel relief, tinged with just a little anger!

I feel relief because I no longer have to worry that she is being cared for properly.  I feel relief that she is no longer in pain.  I feel relief that I no longer have to put on my crisis mask and manage all the stuff …. I feel relief that I no longer need to feel helpless to make MIL happy and fulfilled with her life.  I feel relief at no longer feeling responsible when myself or my boys didn’t contact her as much as we should.  She was so easily made happy with a phone chat.

And angry …. because MIL is gone to be with God and I am still here wading through the mire that is my life.  I’m angry at  cancer because it took my husband and left me to do all the necessary stuff for his Mum.  F u cancer!  I feel angry because there is one less person who really knew Adrian, that I can talk too.

But I have not fallen in a heap, so that’s good – right?

My Psychologist simply said that  it was now time to take care of myself for a little while.  To be kind to my inner person as I had been doing to my MIL.  To find those things that nurture my spirit and soothe my body and mind.

So I visited Madders Brothers Patisserie and bought a red velvet delight topped with a macaron – that surely soothed my body!

Red velvet

On returning home, I lit my Verona candle from Glasshouse Fragrances.

2015-09-18 13.04.45

Later I got my Mindfulness Colouring Book and did some therapeutic colouring in.

2015-09-18 13.15.44

And then there is always this ……

2015-09-18 13.48.55

Fev is the softest, smoochiest, purriest, heart soother I have!!

I also, read blogs that inspire me – check any featured on my list of Blogs to Read (on the right of my page).  I, also have been known to be nourished by words and quotes. So here are a few of my favourite ones –

smile tickle more beautiful cry because

listen

What do you do to nurture yourself?

*MIL = mother-in-law