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

 

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!

Worth the Weight (Part Two) Exercise Endorphines, I’m Still Waiting For Those!

Do you ever go to bed at night, satisfied that you have done well – achieving much for the day – only to wake up with dread and thoughts of inadequacy?

I did, just last night!  I went to bed basking in the fact that I had attended work for 2 full days (well full for me) this past week and I had enjoyed it!  I had managed to be there for an ill BabyBoy, provide some reasonably healthy meals for a few days in a row, grocery shopping had been done and the weekend was in sight.

I woke early this morning feeling like every bone in my body had been through the mill.  I ached in places I didn’t know I could ache and I felt every kilo of my overweight body dragging me down.  I still feel this way, even though it is now 4 hours since I woke.  I just don’t know what to do to make me feel better – physically.

Do you know how difficult it is to do any sort of exercise when you are hugely overweight like me?  Well, it is almost impossible to find an exercise that is safe and not too scary to do.  Many of the exercise machines are only for use if you are under 100 kilos – that’s not me!  I don’t feel safe on my exercise bike anymore.  Pathetic is the word that comes to mind but I know that  is my old failure story, that repeats in my mind and so I quickly acknowledge it, as I would an acquaintance, and try to move on to the friend that is the new chapter I am writing in my head.

Walking is an easy exercise that everyone can do – right?   Wrong!  Walking is a difficult exercise for this obese person to do because my breathing becomes scarily difficult in a very quick time, leading straight into an asthma attack or coughing fit.  Then there is the chafing – thank God for 3B Cream!  Useless is the word that comes to mind but I know that is my old failure story, that  repeats in my mind and so I quickly acknowledge it, as I would an acquaintance, and try to move on to the friend that is the new chapter I am writing in my head.

Swimming – everyone knows that swimming is the best exercise for obese people.  Do you have any idea what it is like for me to put on my togs and walk out into the public?  Think about those insecure times that you may have on the beach or at the pool and multiply it by a hundred times.  Terrifying is the word that comes to mind but I know that is my old failure story, that  repeats in my mind and so I quickly acknowledge it, as I would an acquaintance, and try to move on to the friend that is the new chapter I am writing in my head.

It is the same going to a gym.  I know that people are probably not looking at me but I literally want to die with the embarrassment of the situation.  Pilates!  Yoga!  Tai Chi!  All great suggestions given to me by caring people.  Have you ever seen really fat people doing these activities?  Well, I have not.  Simply getting up and down off the floor is a major production.  My knees don’t work like yours do.  They have been carrying my body for many years  now and they function like an 80 year olds, waiting for a knee replacement (which I wouldn’t get because I carry too much weight).  Excuse is the word that comes to mind but I know that is my old failure story, that  repeats in my mind and so I quickly acknowledge it, as I would an acquaintance, and try to move on to the friend that is the new chapter I am writing in my head.

Did you know that sitting, standing and even lying in bed or on the couch is painful when you are a real plus size?  It does. Ridiculous is the word that comes to mind but I know that is my old failure story, that  repeats in my mind and so I quickly acknowledge it, as I would an acquaintance, and try to move on to the friend that is the new chapter I am writing in my head.

I want all this to stop!  I have no idea how to make it stop but I have to find a way or I am going to die!  And that is not the old failure story, that repeats in my mind.  That is my reality!  I am learning to control the negative stories that I constantly tell myself and replace them with new chapters to repeat in my mind but that does not help the physical pain I constantly feel.  I don’t know what to do to make the pain go away.  I would love to be able to do some gardening without feeling like I was going to die!  Or walk to the letterbox without sweating so much that I have to change my clothes after.

My best guess at a solution would be some pool exercise class.  Just writing that here is making me super anxious.  Anxiety is something I am learning to live with and yet not let it take control of my life.  It is a slow and harrowing journey, that is taking much longer than I would have ever dreamed it would.  Movement forward contains pain, just as raw as the physical stuff does.  I feel less like I am going to die from anxiety than I did 6 or so months ago.  So I guess slow movement, in fact any movement is the key!

So, you see – no glib one liners today.  Not even any answers or inspirational quotes or pictures.  Just the hard, ugly, truth sharing that we often hide away from others and most importantly ourselves.

Lazy …. really?

LAZY!

That word.  It keeps popping into my head.

Am I ? I really don’t know.  I think I am.  I must be.  I just don’t do stuff that I should.  Lots of stuff.  I don’t keep up.  I start but I hardly ever finish …. anything!  I want to, but there are so many distractions!   There always has been and it is the same for everyone.  Other people get distracted but still get stuff done … I don’t!

Distractions are my killers!

In the summer there is the cricket and the games go for 5 days, people!  And I don’t get bored – ever!  You can blame my Mum & Dad for that.  It’s a family tradition.  Eye spy with my little eye …. my sister lying on her couch in New Zealand watching the cricket.  But she will have already done some of the stuff she needed to do, before the cricket starts.  She makes bargains with herself.  She has to hang out the washing before she sits down.  Clever, I think, I’ll try that.  2 days later I remember that I put washing on and totally forgot about hanging it out to dry!  I got distracted by …. I don’t know what but I must have been distracted because if I wasn’t, I really might just be LAZY!  Then there is the heat!  I really don’t do hot!  In the winter there is the distraction of footy and the cold!  I do do footy but I don’t do cold!

Posted @ QUOTEZ.CO

Friends who love me say – you just have to do it!  I know – but I don’t do it!  They come and help me to get started on things and I am so appreciative of their care and love.  But then I stop when they leave and don’t get things finished.  I have thought about why I am like this but I find no answers.  It annoys the hell out of me but not enough to motivate me to do anything!

I will always choose being over doing.  I would much rather spend time sitting chatting with friends than walking chatting with friends.  Technology is my life line but also it is killing me!  You see, it is my way of being with people without having to go and do anything.  I live alone and I suffer from anxiety and depression.  I need to feel connected to people with a minimum of stress and that is easier with technology.  I have made attempts to cut back on my use of social media and I’ve several times removed apps from my phone to help me engage with the real world.  It doesn’t take me long to find myself in a dark place, opting out of life.  Addiction is a word that comes to mind.

So I wander along this befuddled line of self care, loving myself, forgiving myself and laziness!  I need to do stuff for my brain and my body and my spirit and my faith and my relationships!  I have no idea what to do about this?  Do you have any ideas?  Please share suggestions if you do.  I am interested in your thoughts and ideas  and whatever makes you do your stuff!

Meanwhile, I’m going back to watch the cricket while you are all thinking for me!

lazy-quotes-8

Getting my G20 on.

I don’t know if anybody outside of Brisbane realises but we are hosting  the G20 Summit this weekend and for a relaxed holiday city like us, the security is crazy!  Obama’s secret service detail requested that a roundabout outside the University of Queensland, be demolished so that the President’s motorcade would not have to slow down when transporting him!  Request denied!

US decoy helicopters.
US decoy helicopters.

Tomorrow has been declared a G20 public holiday in Brisbane, making a lovely long weekend.  With the extra day break and the predicted temperatures of 38-42 degrees celsius, most of Brisbane has made their way to the beautiful Sunshine or Gold Coast to enjoy the beach.

Beautiful Palm Beach, Gold Coast, Queensland
Beautiful Palm Beach, Gold Coast, Queensland

But not me!

What to do on this momentous occasion?  Well, I could wander into the City Precinct and go people watching. Don’t really want to get frisk searched or mixed up with the many protest groups already there.  I could go shopping.  Many of the Shopping Centres are closed.  I could do housework and fold clothes from Mt Washmore – actually I just might do some of that.  I’ve been wracking my brain for what to do.  It is just this kind of weekend, when most of my friends are away, that I can fall into a deep depression and crawl under the covers and not come out (obviously with the air conditioner on).  So I decided I needed a plan – thank you Pinterest!

Mandy’s Stay at Home Pampering Weekend is about to be planned.  My mind, body and soul are going to be nurtured and loved and spoilt and hugged …….. by ME!!  I am going to rest, relax, drink plenty of water & G & T’s! I am going to slather and lather and scrub and smooth!  I am going to pray and think and read and write! I am going to move and swim and listen to music and dance in my kitchen!  And I may even plan my food for the next few weeks and I will definitely be sneaking in a few “get ready for Christmas” activities!

Watch this space for G20 Spa updates!

Christmas crockery has made it's way into my cupboards!  Oops!!
Christmas crockery has made it’s way into my cupboards! Oops!!

What will you be doing this G20 weekend – wherever you are in the world?

Rant Follow Up and other things!

I am feeling much better.

I still think Stinkalink deserves its new name but after a few reasonable sleeps; a couple of days of comfort food; time processing things with friends and a conversion with the Social Worker!!! (Yes, she actually rang me yesterday) I now know where and what to do.

I am Lantana!

The Social Worker gave me information about discounts and benefits I am eligible for and will not lose if I continue to get well.  I also worked out that working money plus pension discounts,  is more than benefit money.  I found out that my file has, now, been marked, so that I do not have to apply for other jobs!  Such a relief!

So, I can now afford to keep going with my counselling and continue on my slow planned return to work but I will still have a safety net for those days when anxiety takes over.  Such a relief!  My question is “Why could not the Stinkalink people tell me that in the first place?”

Moving on ….. Great things came from this speed bump.  I did not crawl into bed and put the covers over my head – at all!  I did not have a panic attack – at all!  I spoke to people I didn’t know or necessarily trust about hard stuff – on my own!  I stood up for my self – on my own!

Tonight is going to be big for me.  I have registered and will attend a blogging seminar with Nikki from Styling You – ON MY OWN PEOPLE!!!!

Fashion Blogging: Styling You

Join Nikki Parkinson as she shares her journey from journalist to fashion blogger and author. Nikki will explain the inspiration behind her blog Styling You — which draws thousands of readers every day — and how devices and apps can make blogging easier. She’ll also discuss how blogging led her to publish her first book, Unlock Your Style, now available on iBooks.

Immediately after registering I began to talk myself out of going BUT instead of backing out, I decided to contact Nikki to ask if I would be out of my depth.  Brave, aren’t I?  Guess what?  She answered and encouraged me to come and congratulated me on starting my blog!!  Great I thought – I will go.

About 5 minutes later I thought …… OMG she is a fashion blogger …… What the hell will fat, frumpy, old me wear?  I need a pedicure – I can’t afford a pedicure!  I need to have my hair done – I can’t afford to have my hair done!

Breathe….Breathe….Breathe….

My self talk conversation went like this ……This week you conquered Stinkalink!  This is good stuff.  This is growing stuff.  You can do this. Remember how you wrote this at the end of Worth the Weight?

 I have to believe in my new story as I write it.  I have to have courage to say it out loud and to believe I am enough – now!  Not days, months, years down the track – when I am thin.  But NOW.   As I am!  At the moment!   I am enough!

So I will take my enough self to the Seminar and I will learn and grow and I might even try to get a photo with Nikki!

Rant!

Today I am diverting away from my original goal of always trying to write positive and mostly uplifting posts because today I feel angry and defeated!

To set the scene, most of my readers know that I have been struggling with anxiety and depression in a most debilitating way for me, of late.  It manifests as avoidance of living a full and productive life and ends up with me crawling back under the covers and feeling totally incapable of attending to the most mundane day to day tasks –  like preparing meals and getting the mail and showering etc.  It also makes getting to work impossible and coping with phone calls, meetings, money things, a pipe dream.  Talking to people becomes my worst nightmare.  I just can’t / don’t want want to / can’t!!!

The great thing is that I got help at the right time and am slowly coming back to the Me I want to be.  That was until yesterday!  After much thought and being guided by doctors and family and friends, I decided I should approach a government agency that I have today named  Stinkalink.  It has been a long  drawn out process that has been going on for months and the upshot of it all was that firstly, I had to use up the majority of my meagre savings before I would be considered.  Then I was considered ineligible because my condition was not stable. Next I was given a much smaller interim payment while I was being treated and stabilized but this was cancelled because I had not been told to report my weekly earnings if I did attend work. I was also required to  apply for  jobs even though I have a job that is being kept open for me and job application would be one of the worst things for my anxiety levels. I was, also, required to front up for fortnightly face to face meetings at the Stinkalink Office even though I was told I had to report and submit my paperwork online.

After returning to the doctors for more complete reports, which stated that they thought I was stabilized but was not hopeful of significant improvement for 12 – 18 months. I resubmitted my claim.  Yesterday, I was phoned and told that my claim has again been rejected because ……. wait for it ……. I was hopeful of significant improvement in 12 – 18 months (which meant hopefully building my work hours up to 20 hours per fortnight).

I have been rejected because I am trying to get better!  You read correctly – I have been rejected because I am trying to get well!

I feel so angry and defeated but I was required to face up at Stinkalink  today, for a face to face meeting, where the man on the phone yesterday said, I should see a Social Worker to help me cope.  So show up I did.  Of course, no one there knew anything about a Social Worker, who was only in on Thursday / Friday and so they would give them my phone number.  I was also told that my current benefit would be cut because I was earning too much in the fortnight – I am working a sum total of 8 hours per fortnight but that is apparently too many hours.

Next I asked why I hadn’t been given a Health Concession card – only to be told I had been issued with one on the 3 October – but they had forgotten to notify me!!!  Do you realise how many doctor & psychologist appointments I’ve had since then????  Not to mention prescriptions from the chemist!!  The solution, apparently, is for me to go back to each place and request a refund.  So I began with the Chemist, who promptly printed off a list a mile long and said to take it back to Stinkalink which I did and I had to fill out another form to ask for  consideration.

So today I am finished with Stinkalink and I will reassess whether I will attempt to lodge a 3rd claim but today I am finished!  I have retreated to the couch, in front of the TV with this …….Comfort food

And I don’t care because at least I am eating something and I am not in bed with the covers over my head!  I just need to rest and recover from a shitty day but I will not give up because you can’t kill weeds and I am Lantana!!!

Rant over – unfortunately I feel no better!