“But You Don’t Look Sick?”

“But, you don’t look sick.”.

Five seemingly innocuous words, that to the recipient are so ‘fully loaded’ they may as well be a 2005 film staring Lindsey Lohan and a vehicle named Herbie (keeping it current, as always). Let me explain by first asking a question. What would ‘sick enough’ look like? 

When I was in the deepest clutches of my anorexia my blood moved so sluggishly that I was freezing in the middle of summer, bundled up in layers of clothes. My period had stopped due to malnutrition and even now, 10+ years on, it has never fully normalised. My fingers and toes were constantly blue, as all my blood was being channelled centrally, toward my vital organs just to keep me alive. My stomach cramped if I ate anything at all and I could feel the movement of food through my intestine (yeah, that shit nasty!). My eyes were dark and sunken, and my skin grey, yet still easily covered with this seasons latest make-up trends! My thick hair was falling out, but I had plenty to begin with, so who would ever notice. And obviously, I was skinny as fuck. However, I didn’t look like the typical movie portrayal of anorexia with jutting bones and 0% body fat. I wasn’t ‘concerned-Dr. Phil-thin’. I probably wasn’t even Hollywood thin, and yet my body was shutting down and I was dying. The scariest thing of all? I continued to get compliments about how great I looked. Here I was, envying the bodies of random crack addicts who obviously hadn’t eaten in weeks, and whose faces were all scabbed up from fighting off the invisible bugs that crawled beneath their skin, and I was being validated for it. What a fucking world. Now that’s the real heroine chic, sit down Kate Moss! 

Comic Girls Say..It must be noted that anorexia is first and foremost a mental illness. I think a lot of people miss the fact that anorexia is possible at any size! It depends on how you feed, see, and punish yourself. As you will learn throughout this essay, I have had a lot of health problems throughout my life, and in my experience anorexia is up there with the worst of the worst. It is self torture, and it is nothing more than an agonisingly slow form of suicide. It is not to be taken lightly, brushed aside as teenage angst, or excessive vanity. In fact the opposite is true; it is motivated by deep self-loathing and severe anxiety. Terror really. Discovering where the insecurity and lack of control is arising from is key in healing from this ugly disease. ‘Ana’ truly is an evil c*nt. 

Silverchair – Ana’s Song

IMG_2479.JPG

Please die Ana 
For as long as you’re here we’re not
You make the sound of laughter
And sharpened nails seem softer

And I need you now somehowIMG_2482.JPG
And I need you now somehow

Open fire on the needs designed
On my knees for you
Open fire on my knees desires
What I need from you

Imagine pageant
In my head the flesh seems thicker 
Sandpaper tears corrode the film

And I need you now somehow
And I need you now somehow

Open fire on the needs designed
On my knees for you
Open fire on my knees desires
What I need from you

And your my obsession
I love you to the bones
And Ana wrecks your life
Like an anorexia life

Open fire on the need designed
On my knees for you

Open fire on my knees desires
What I need from you
Open fire on my needs designed
Oh, and open fire on the needs designed
On my knees for you

Fun side note: Daniel Johns and I actually attended the same rehab, which makes me feel more like an unruly child star in the ilk of Bieber, Lohan or Bines, rather than the mentally ill junkie that I was. Yay for perspective!
IMG_2491.JPGWhen I finally had the courage (or pure desperation) to confide in people, I was looked up and down like a piece of meat, assessed and judged for the body I loathed, before being dismissed with, Wellyou don’t look that skinny.”. These days I do my very best never to comment on anyones else’s body, even if I know a friend is working hard on their weight-loss ‘journey’. Not only because it is boring and no-one gives a fuck, but because no-one just wakes up one day and decides “today’s the day I’m never eating again!”. The development of anorexia is a slow process of ‘playing with’ dieting, eliminating foods (eg. suddenly becoming vegetarian, cutting carbs, or claiming to have food intolerances), and skimming portion sizes. This process can take years. It is so slow in fact, that the sufferer will often have no idea what a regular plate of food looks like anymore, or even what hunger feels like. It is deeply confusing, scary and insidious, and it is harmfully encouraged by the confirmation that a smaller-sized version of you is a better one. So not only is it incredibly toxic to comment on an openly anorexic persons appearance, it is potentially dangerous for someone who is susceptible to developing an eating disorder. I mean, just tell them their outfit is fire (or whatever the kids are saying these days)!

 Comparably, it is just as damaging to tell a chronically ill person that they don’t look sick”. The cruellest thing you can do to a sick person is ask them to prove their illness to you. Chronically ill people spend their lives trying to look and act as normal as they possibly can. If they look ‘well’, that means they are very well practiced in the art of smiling through pain, ignoring fatigue, and trying their best to make you less annoyed or uncomfortable by their symptoms. Never, make a sick person feel as though they are not sick enough. We have enough of that guilt already. 

Pegal, kuyub, dingin, masuk angin, umur, iya, tau kok, ok, selamat malam dimps! :))For example, I have a range of serious mental health issues (who doesn’t right?), which fluctuate in potency depending on life circumstances, hormones, and whatever the fuck my brain feels like throwing at me that week. I also have hangover issues from my cancer, surgery and chemotherapy treatments, such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Yes, they are real conditions (I can’t quite believe I have to say that). They have changed my life forever (I’m trying not to write ‘ruined’), and I can’t think of anyone who would ever choose to fake the 60+ symptoms they can produce. Yet, I am still regularly reminded that “it’s all in my head.” to which I respond with a quote from the ever fascinating, Fiona Apple, and reply “So’s everything. But he didn’t get it.”, and generally the people that would make ignorant comments like that will not get it, but luckily I’m much too sleepy to waste my time explaining it to them. In short; pain is pain. It doesn’t matter if you can see it on a scan like a broken bone, or not. If your brain is triggered into a pain reaction, you will experience the sensation of physical pain. I would argue that it can be worse if there is no sign of physical damage, as this generally means a significantly slower and more difficult issue to treat. Not to mention it is extremely invalidating and frustrating for the patient.

Life lately... #coffee #need #tired #sleepy #coffeelover #life #energie #Regram via @liciakyaMy mental health is quite unpredictable, although I am getting a little better at understanding it, which can help. However, my physical conditions go through stages of ‘flare’ (not the fun, jazz-hands kind, unfortunately), and ‘remission’. Right now I’m in a pretty decent remission phase, and can work a little for myself. When I am in a flare-up, I am completely incapacitated by pain, exhausted to the bone, and tackling a lot of other really odd, depressing, and annoying symptoms which make it impossible to work. I won’t list them, because yawn, but you can google if you so choose. 

Image result for ricki lake go rickiDespite all of this, I, and many others like me, do not qualify for disability assistance. So WTF does that tell us chronically ill  folk (or Spoonies, as some call themselves)? It tells us that we are not sick enough to warrant assistance, but we are not well enough to contribute meaningfully to society. We are left floundering in no-mans land. We exist in limbo, and many of us carry a deep weight of shame because of this. As our illnesses are invisible we are often presumed lazy, or that we lack motivation. Personally, nothing could be further from the truth, and in fact, it would’ve made my life a lot easier if that were the case! I didn’t want to spend my life nursing illness after illness. And then illnesses that resulted from previous illnesses! How fucking boring. I had big dreams. I fought tooth and nail not to give in to my shitty body, until it finally completely collapsed on me, forcing me to grieve the person I had always imagined I would become. Goodbye Lady Gaga/Ricki Lake-hybrid aspirations! You will be missed. Nothing, legitimately nothing, in my life looks how I had envisioned it. That was a beyond hard transition, but many an existential crisis later and I have finally admitted defeat. I am slowly learning to embrace the cards I’ve been dealt and do my best with what I got (look at me, Mrs. Silver-fucking-lining over here!). I still swear a lot though, because… FUCK ME IT’S A MOTHER FUCKING BAG OF DICKS SOMETIMES! 

The Struggles with Chronic IllnessesI have no idea how my Spoonie sisters and brothers survive. I really don’t. The only way I get by is because my father passed away relatively recently and oh boy! Lucky me!, I have some inheritance to slowly whittle away on my medical bills. Whoopee… Yes, I am scared for my future. Everyday. I just have to hope that one day I’ll be in remission long enough to be able to work a gentle, low stress job, that won’t be physically or emotionally demanding, and that it somehow pays a fuck tonne of money, while offering flexible hours, so I may rest as much as needed in order to return each day without depleting my energy stores! Simple! *shit…* Anyone got a winning lottery ticket they want to hand my way? I won’t perform sexual favours, but I could be persuaded to flash my left breast? That’s the good one! 

Find the ultimate pop art essentials for your mid-century home decor |www.essentialhome.eu/blogSo, not only was my Anorexic-brain convincing me that I was failing at being skinny, because 1. I was still breathing (and that’s what being ‘successful’ at anorexia will look like. Death.), and 2. Because I wasn’t “that skinny”; but I was also actively being complimented on how great I looked. Each compliment like a confirmation that my slow death was a positive and that this, weight loss, was the prime purpose of my vapid existence.

I was lucky. I had bigger dreams, and was convinced my destiny *cough cough* was to sing to the world! So, when anorexia started to steal my voice because I had become too physically  weak to breathe properly (yeah, apparently that’s a thing!), I decided if I was going to live, I may as well channel my obsession into something useful. After all, a large reason I was starving myself to begin with was to emulate the artists I’d admired for so long. What was the use in looking the part, if I could no longer access the talent? Slowly I began the tediously long process of healing. It was uncomfortable, scary, painful, life-saving, and by far the best decision I’ve ever made.

Nerve pain might not kill you, but it feels like a work in progress. I have nerve pain so bad .As I was working through my anorexia recovery, I was diagnosed with cancer. This brought with it a lot of guilt that perhaps I was to blame somehow. That I had treated my body so toxically, that it had rebelled with disease. These days I don’t take that kind of shit on, but I was young, scared and searching for an answer more than the randomness of life.

I went into recovery from anorexia at 20-years-old, and was diagnosed with a dangerous spinal tumour at 21 (OMG woe is me! What a whiney bitch!). Again, I was met with comments on how well I looked. Let me say, I know most of these comments are well meaning, but they are invalidating and undermining of the suffering of the sick person, and therein lies their damage. Before I was diagnosed I was in agony. I would not just cry myself to sleep, but scream myself to sleep in pain. My back felt like it was broken (I guess technically it was), but the doctors didn’t find anything for 5-months, so just assumed it was severe muscle spasm that wasn’t releasing. I kept working as a fitness instructor until one day my back actually made a cracking sound and I doubled over in pain, almost passing out from the intensity. Later I was informed that it was likely that small pieces of bone were now breaking away from my spine as the tumour grew. Vomit. I now know I can work through anything… but I mostly choose not to! At night my mum was on-call to bring me ice packs and keep my Panadol levels topped up, but it wasn’t scraping the sides of my pain. When I finally received my diagnosis, they put me on that morphine good shit! Thank you baby Jesus!

Jesus Take The Wheel Take Over GIF - JesusTakeTheWheel TakeOver HelpOut GIFs

I was in terrible pain. So much so, that despite chewing down enough opiates to kill a baby elephant, I was still in significant pain. Alas! I was high as a mother-fucking kite, so it wasn’t all bad. I was tired, doped out, and flying high on synthetic heroin (mmm…yummy), so considering I had just been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, I looked pretty damn good! Additionally, the kind of chemo I received had very limited side effects. I didn’t lose my hair, or turn green from nausea. I didn’t need steroids, so I didn’t bloat. I lost a bit of weight, coz cancer, but also because I read that being vegan aided natural healing (in actual fact it majorly triggered my eating disorder so…not so helpful in my case). Honestly, cancer looked good on me! My friend Sam* would say the same. She had a brain tumour, and together we agreed we’d never looked better. She’s dead now. So, once again I ask, what does ‘sick’ look like? 

Image result for frankenstein loveIf you’ve ever read anything I’ve produced before you will be aware that I developed an addiction to said opiates. It’s been about two and a half years since I’ve tasted their sweet poison, but I still feel warm and fuzzy when I think (or write) about them. I grieve those pills like a lost love. Probably partly because their chemical make-up is physically very similar to that of the chemicals we produce when falling in love. That’s right, it’s chemical fricking love. That’s some Frankenstein shit right there! I was a full blown, filthy junkie for that shit. Oh, I ain’t playing either! I would have quite happily let it kill me. I’m talking, scraping the tiny granules off the floor of public bathrooms. Stealing from my absolute God-send of a mother, who was desperately trying to protect me from myself. Lying as a matter of course. Using while studying at university (I studied nutrition. Have a field day with that!). Falling to my knees and crying bloody murder when I got cut off, rather than weaned off, in rehab. I was well fucked. But hey, at least I looked fucking good doing it! Okay, I was a touch grey, constantly clammy, and completely dead behind the eyes. But other than that, I looked pretty fucking hot. I even filmed a music video during the midst of addiction, and it’s still my favourite one to watch, because I think my body looks sick as fuck! But like, fully sick. Not sick sick. I see now I could have used a better adjective… 

Hearts - Cuori - Fatto con AmoreBut see, I wasn’t a street junkie. I never bought from strangers, or used illegal, street drugs. Like a bored, rich, housewife from Orange County, I abused prescription medication. My GP was my dealer. The same doctor who had seen me through my recovery from anorexia, cancer, and a myriad of mental health spirals. How shameful. How sad. That’s addiction. You would sell your own foot for a fucking line, and be happy you still had another one to score again later. Let’s be clear. My doctor is not on a pedestal for me. He made mistakes and missed many signs. However, I didn’t make it easy for him to spot. There is no way in hell he would’ve prescribed me shit if I looked like an underpass junkie, and I knew that. If I went in to his office covered in scabs and all twitchy from the come down, do you think he would prescribe me anything? No way!

31 Great Memes & Pics ~ Funky Fresh & Funny 11Sure, I was suicidally depressed, and spent the time in the waiting room pacing back and forth, twitching and randomly crying, but hey, at least I was there talking about it (yikes)! I regularly saw a psychologist and psychiatrist. I went to university. I was well dressed, and I looked realatively healthy and responsible. I was good at playing the role for those 8-minutes a week I was in his office. Yet, there I was, shoving oxy up my nose at 5am as I drove to the station to start a 10-hour day of treating patients and obsessively rationing out my gear for the rest of the day. As soon as I would get home I would knock myself out on sleeping pills (mostly just to stop the panic attacks and tears), before waking up and doing it all over again the next day. It’s so strange to think about. It seems so far away from the person I think I am now. But that was only 3 years ago. I had been an impulsive kid, but never a ‘naughty’ one. Drugs had never interested me. I was the kid turning down the cigarettes and weed at high school parties, to the detriment of my popularity, because I had bigger goals and ambitions. Well, look at me now! [Cut from; getting handed the “most likely to succeed” award at the end of high school graduation party! To; racking a line in the Melbourne Central disabled bathroom stall, while my pharmaceutical text book peeks through my bag disapprovingly]. That’s how they will show it in the Hollywood remake of my life. Dah. All this to say once again, you cannot tell from the outside, what is going on within.

 I read something recently about ‘usable hours’. Apparently the ‘average’ person has 10 usable hours in a day. These are hours where they can be active; go to work, partake in activities, or run errands. This, BLOWS. MY. MIND. You guys have 10-hours of this shit? Fuck me! The things you must have seen! Right now, with my fibro/chronic fatigue, I’m rocking about six usable hours and that suits me just fine. I can keep up with my television stories, write a bit of nonsense, and smash some cheese into my face. But two years ago I pushed my fragile body too far for it to keep up, and fell into the worst fibro flare I have had to date. I actually thought my organs were shutting down as I could see problems with each of my bodily systems. I was so sick I only had two useable hours a day. Two hours of wakeful, functional activity. That includes time to shower, dress and eat. It sounds mental right? Image result for memes funny koala picturesLike, what am I? A fucking koala? I mean, I may sleep 22 hours a day, be a drug addict (that eucalyptus is the real shit!), and riddled with chlamydia but wait… what was I arguing again?

With my two wakeful hours I would go to the doctor, and try to do some light exercise. What a life! It took me 6-months to slowly start building myself up, minute per minute, day by day. I legitimately had to increase my walking by one minute per day because anything else would have destroyed me and left me worse than I started. Wild. Nowadays I seem to have plateaued at the 6-hour mark, but I’m fine with it. I’ll take what I can get. At least I’m not on koala time anymore… creepy little sex pests.

haSo what’s the moral of this story? Mind your own business and believe people when they confide in you about their health struggles? Think twice before commenting on other peoples appearances because you never know what someone might be dealing with? Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about, so be kind? Meh, make of this what you will! In actuality, this was just a blatant opportunity for me to humble brag about how unbelievably attractive I am, despite the fact that I’ve been on the verge of death my whole life! And you know what? That’s not a bad take home message either.

Thank you, and good night.

 

*Name has been changed.

Auburn

Auburn is my mother,

Maple leaves a mark from home. 

I snuggle in her gentle arms

As she whispers, “You are strong”. 

 

Auburn is an oak tree,

Sturdy and robust. 

Beneath I write some cheesy song,

About the object of my lust. 

 

Auburn colours romance,

But not a one brand new. 

It’s comforting and worn,

Like your favourite pair of shoes. 

 

Auburn was my father,

Rising with the sun for work. 

His briefcase packed with boring things,

 Now I wish I’d cared to look. 

 

Auburn were her lips when she cackled wild and free.

Auburn burnt the paper as she singed a joint for me.

 

Auburn were her eyes,

Right before I closed them. 

I’d imagined they’d be milky,

Like a fish I’d just unfrozen.

A crude thought I know…

But how was I to have known? 

She’d be as lovely as the day we met,

Hospital bed, her throne. 

 

I sit here blonde and ashy.

She liked me auburn haired. 

Fiery”, she told me,

Like she knew me,

Like she cared. 

 

Auburn was my heart, As it broke not it two but three.

And auburn were my fingers, 

Next to hers blue… 

Leaving me. 

 

You are my home

The Invisible People

 

I like people who have survived or are surviving. I like people who are open with their vulnerabilities, “failures”, and desperation. I like those that despite the protective layers of armour they have built up around them, their heart still bursts free of their chest like a child that has yet to be hurt. Because when you have been forced to survive against all odds, you truly understand the value of even the smallest expressions of love. It’s not that you will always be able to offer it. In fact, in times of survival, when your tap is completely run dry, sometimes all you can do is take from others. The times I’ve been in survival mode have been some of the most selfish and needy of my life. But that is when you learn the value of a kind face, or a helpful gesture. When you feel completely alone in the world it means everything for someone to see you and not overt their eyes, despite how ugly survival may make you. And I’ve been real ugly.

 I call us, ‘the invisible people’. We are the people society either shuns intentionally or simply forgets. The elderly; tucked quietly away in homes. The epitome of “out of sight, out of mind.”. The homeless; who are almost the polar opposite. They are in your face at the station where you get off for work, they interrupt your night out asking for money so that they might eat, or god forbid, spend it on drugs to feel good for a few minutes. These people are not hidden, but they are not seen. I’m not sure which is worse. I get along with criminals and people who live on the fringe of society. It’s so easy to demonise something we don’t understand but if you have really had to survive. I mean, fight for your own life, or that of your families’, not just for a day, but day in, day out, year after year; it’s much easier to have compassion for those that ‘break the rules’ in order to survive. People with chronic or long-term illnesses are similar to the elderly. Friends will come and offer support at first, but as they start to realise that you are not getting better, and this is a life-long adjustment, it becomes boring. It’s human nature to shy away from situations that make us feel helpless, and being with a chronically sick person usually highlights that helplessness in us. But it means that many of us with chronic illness become more and more isolated, depressed and of course, invisible.

 The final semester of my degree (2016) was probably the worst time of my life. I almost didn’t return, and in hindsight it was probably too soon to be back. The short version is this; my relationship of 7-years had ended hideously, against my choosing. I’d watched my best friend deteriorate rapidly from brain cancer and subsequently pass away. And my father had died unexpectedly in the Middle East, from circumstances I still find suspicious. This was all in the space of about 5 months. I think that would be enough to make anyone snap but add to that my crippling co-dependency, co-morbid mental and physical illnesses, and the fact that I was now living alone for the first time in my entire life; I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I cried so much I didn’t even know where the tears were coming from anymore. The breaking of my heart was a physical searing in my chest, and convulsive gripping in my gut, that I was convinced would kill me. I truly believed I would die of a broken heart, and I am now sure that is possible. Every second I was awake I either had a drink in my hand, a line up my nose, or a pill down my throat. On a “good” day, all three. But I didn’t want to be awake. I wanted to sleep through the grief and wake up when it was done…or just never wake up. Either way, I honestly didn’t care. I was not coping, but despite myself I was going to survive.

stoned-in-parisAnd survive I did… by any means. The means of which I chose was drugs and alcohol. Never one to do anything by halves, I did not hold back. Due to an extensive spinal surgery I had in my early 20’s, I had a fairly regular supply of grade-A opiates on hand at any one time. It was a small problem, but manageable, right up until life wasn’t. And therein lies the Cliff’s Notes version of many a drug addict before me. Recreational drug use + ugly bump in life (maybe throw in a mental health issue as well, just for that extra oomph), = full blown addiction in rapid speed. RDU+UB=A². Look dad, I mathed!

Now I'm fucking falling apart and can't fucking breatheWithin three months I went from almost completely weening myself off the opiate pain killers, to getting withdrawal sweats if I didn’t shove something into my nose, mouth or eyeballs in the space of half an hour. Okay, I wasn’t quite at eyeball level. See, there is always further to fall kids! Of course I don’t endorse this as a survival method, but it cannot be denied that without drugs, I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale. Yes, they fucked up my life and health in many ways that will never return to their previous state, but in terms of short-term survival, many days they were the only reason I woke up. Wake up, rack up, snort line, survive (not a bad song lyric actually. Although if you ask 90’s Eminem it probably already is one). This little process would repeat until the day was done or I mercifully passed out. Passing out was the preferred option because then I would get a break from crying, aching, and life-ing.

Freaks • 1932God, I was just so sad. I can’t describe the grief. There aren’t enough sad words in the English language to explain that kind of heartache. Broken. Shattered. Empty. Anguished. Despaired. Tortured. Grief-stricken. Lonely. So fucking lonely. Lost. Agonised. Tormented. Alone. Desperate. Pained. Suicidal.
Put them all together and we are inching closer. I’ve never felt like that before. It was depression, but this was no ordinary depression. This was, end-it-all depression, and it lasted a long time at that intensity. Two and a half years long. So as ugly as I was, and as ugly as the drugs made me, I am grateful for them. They are just one tiny part of my recovery puzzle, but they aided in saving my life.

ViomilaOne of the reasons I resonate so strongly with vagrants, loonies, junkies, and criminals (all said with multitudes of love and affection), is because the only difference I see between myself and them is that I had a supportive family who had the funds, will, and patience to aid in my healing. That is not to be underestimated. There was a moment when my brother dropped everything and drove me to the mental hospital (or as I like to call it; the loonie bin). My insurance didn’t cover my stay there and I had to decide if I wanted to pay the $2500 for a short one week stay, or go spend that same amount of money on street drugs. Two things happened here; 1. If I had been alone I would’ve left, given up on myself and bought the drugs, but I had my brother there to encourage me to better myself. 2. I had the savings in my bank account to pay for the stay. That is a luxury not afforded to many. I may have been a fucking heartbroken, suicidal, junkie, but in that moment, there was no denying I was lucky.

Ladies don't kill, they merely just...interrogate and take away the non-gentleman's breath.

It’s accepted knowledge that people with mental illness are far more likely to develop drug abuse issues, end up involved in crime, in prisons, or living on the streets. Well, I’ve almost got as many mental illnesses as I do fingers, and I was quickly becoming a full blown addict. I was also full of rage, and I was suicidal; meaning I didn’t give a toss about the consequences of my actions. That’s a dangerous combination that could’ve easily lead me to make a seriously misguided decision and ruin the rest of my life.

That's not very nice, now is it?
The grief in me was surfacing as rage. I didn’t know I could be so angry. It was like there was a flame alight inside of me, charring and scolding me from the inside out. I didn’t understand how everyone was walking around so contently while I was on fire in front of them. How could they leave me to burn alive like this! Couldn’t they see I needed their help? I hated them for not seeing it. For not seeing me. My mind was full of violence toward myself and others. But, even though I had given up on everyone, there were still enough people and structures in place that hadn’t yet given up on me.

All-DarksMy psychologist talked me out of ruining my own life on a weekly basis, I had a psychiatrist monitoring my medication, a GP I trusted, and a warm, comforting home to go back to with a loving, if exhausted, family. My mum and brother are my heroes, and I will never forget the last correspondence I ever received from my father. I’d emailed him in the Middle East to let him know I was in the psycho ward (a place I actually remember fondly; a story for another day perhaps). I was unsure how he would respond but he simply replied, “If you had a broken ankle you would be in hospital to mend that too. You are doing the right thing.”. My dad wasn’t always the best with words growing up, but those are some pretty great ones to go out on. Thanks dad.

I was one of the lucky ones. A lot of the people I met who were living on the street could not say the same.

I could no longer relate to anyone at my university. These chipper, healthy, studious, young woman who had goals and dreams to be successful health practitioners (nutritionists) and practiced what they preached. I wore a white coat in the clinic that mocked me as I smoked cigarettes around the back by the bins, and downed my 10th cup of coffee of the day. I was a fucking fraud. My only goal was to get to the end of each day so I could go to the train station liquor store, drink cask wine on the ride home, pass out, and start again in the morning. I related to the men and woman sleeping rough outside the station. We’d smoke together, talk shit and share my lunch. After my dad died I even started filling the pockets of his old jackets with snacks or sanitary products, and handing them out to people in need on cold mornings. I guess I hoped that if I showed someone a small token of love, that maybe it would come back to me. I knew how much I needed it and I didn’t want anyone else to feel as invisible and worthless as I did.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 3There was a selfish element to it, of course. I saw them, they saw me. It was nice. They saw good in me at a time in my life where everyone else thought I was misguided, pathetic and dark. These connections were incredibly important to me. These people who I saw for a quick cigarette in the morning before rushing off to class, were my friends. They were the people I connected to and I looked forward to seeing each day. They didn’t worry about me like the rest of the world. They had their own shit to worry about. But we appreciated each other in the moment and that was enough. That time in my life was horribly depressing and I’m so relieved to say I have finally turned a corner on it. However, it really helped me learn to be less judgmental, and that every single person has something worthwhile to offer if you are willing to be open to receiving.

… Even that one schizophrenic dude who I was having a perfectly pleasant chat with, until he started earnestly describing how he had just tried to steal a gun from a policeman because the invisible aliens were coming to capture him. I mean they could’ve been, what do I know? They were invisible after all! Ah, what a rare treat he was.*

Image result for e coronaI’m by no means perfectly healed. I didn’t “see the light” and transform myself into a content, clean-living, angelic specimen. LOL! The grief is at a manageable level most of the time now, but of course I still get debilitating waves where I feel my heart crushing in my chest. I still live with chronic mental and physical illness, which naturally brings me down (or up if I’m on a manic swing!). I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m not special by any means. Which is great news, because it means that anyone can survive. There was no grit or determination involved. I had nothing left to “fight” with. It was pure endurance. I endured life for as long as it took to survive, and from this place of survival I am now able to work on building a life where I can thrive. I wish I had more advice, as I had desperately wished someone had had for me, but all I can do is leave you with one more quote from my late father, “Just put one foot in front of the other.”. What he meant by this was that as long as we keep moving, no matter how slowly, we will end up somewhere else. Somewhere in the direction of where we want our lives to go. With that I’m learning to enjoy the process over the end goal, and I’ve walked myself out of hell on earth. I am not special. I just survived.

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*No policeman were harmed in the making of this blog.

 

Let’s Talk About S..[uicide] Baby

I am what Instagram and online articles like to refer to as the “toxic” friend. I’m sure you’ve seen this on the cover of Cosmo before, How to eliminate toxic people from your life!”. There are few headlines that chill me to the bone and ignite my fear of abandonment more that this. I am terrified that if any of my limited group of friends were to scroll through that click bait that they would instantly realise that they indeed have that person in their life, and whaddyaknow?, it is yours truly! What isn’t given in those articles is the other point of view and in the light of so many high profile suicides of late, I would like to offer just that. I understand that suicide is an incredibly vulnerable subject and an exceptionally individual experience. So, keep in mind that this is solely my recount of living with long-term suicidal ideation and how this has impacted the way I view suicide as a form of death.

Moonlight Densetsu

I know that my suicidality annoys people. There, there, it’s okay, I’m aware. It’s not that people are inherently unkind or selfish, but generally speaking, humans are fixers. We see an issue, we want to fix it and move on. Done and dusted! So when confronted with a “problem” that seemingly has no quick fix or cure, it makes us increasingly uncomfortable and frustrated. As sufferers of suicidal ideation we already feel as though we are a burden on those around us, and being that we are largely quite sensitive individuals we can sense this frustration and blame ourselves. We in turn want to “fix” what is causing your frustration, but knowing (or simply assuming) that we are the cause, can mean that we hide away and isolate ourselves more as to not upset you. Sadly, this response furthers our loneliness and discontent, and pushes away what ultimately is the only remedy; love and a sense of belonging.

☆~Ella birak~☆Fostering an accepting community is key for a sense of wellbeing. Without it we are like the lost lamb of the herd; alone, disoriented and vulnerable to threat. This forces us to tap into our survival instincts, and being that humans are pack animals, this places a huge strain on one little lamby’s (or persons’) shoulders. In N.A. (narcotics anon.) the importance of community is held at the highest regard. The statement let us love you back to health,”, is heard time and again. A simple, but powerful statement (if a tad culty). At the same token, what walked most of us into that room was the crushing loneliness and sense of complete and utter overwhelm, that drove us to our addictions in the first place. I have said it before and I truly believe that loneliness and isolation is a killer. So, what the funk do we do? We can stay in bed, hidden under the blankets and surrounded by crumbs of old food and an empty bottle of vodka. Not a terrible option when you feel like nothing matters. Or… we can do our darndest to pull up our mouldy socks and slap on a fake-ass smile, in the hopes that maybe spending time with us isn’t completely unbearable and we will feel less painfully alone. However, this is exhausting. Just as it is for you to spend time with us when we feel like shite. I get it, it is intimidating to be around the angry, volatile gal. It’s boring and draining to hang out with the sad, mopey boy. And it is uncomfortable and at times even awkward or embarrassing, to be around the emotionally unstable cray bish (it’s cool, I can say that coz I’m 70% cray). It’s not ideal and we may not even be able to show our gratitude, but trust me, your friendship is appreciated.

awh

All death is difficult, but for some reason there is an added heaviness in our hearts when we hear about someone taking their own life. I am in two minds about this. I feel incredible sadness for the intensely agonising place someone must be in, in order to go against every single animal instinct that their body, mind and spirit has evolved to protect them from. But I, maybe unusually, feel immense joy for their current freedom. Let’s think on that for a moment. Literally since we were tiny little, single-celled amoeba bobbing about this mortal coil, we have been biologically programmed to survive and reproduce. Survive and reproduce. That’s our only job. So in order for a person to have the “desire” to take their own life and then follow through with that action, they must be in such an extreme state of distress, for a long enough period of time, to override their own chemical make up. That is not a small feat. The stages involved in musing about, planning, and then finally acting on a suicide attempt, are many and complex. There is the agonising about every layer of leaving loved ones, comparing the pain of staying with the freedom of nothingness, the fear of what actually going through with it might feel like or look like to those who find you, how people might perceive you and call you a coward who took the “easy way out” (seriously, don’t even get me started! It boils my blood when I hear that.), the list is endless. This is important to consider because it shows us that not only are we overriding our own animal instinct, but we must somehow override the voices of the external world and our own logical mind, not once, but at each and every stage, many times over, before any action would ever take place. This is a person in desperation.

Zippity doo dah

In my experience (and I’m sure many professionals will disagree), prior to finding the correct treatment, depression is a progressive disease. I found myself advancing to a new stage in my mind each time a major depressive spell, which lead into suicidal thinking, occurred. When I first started having suicidal thoughts as a teenager, I wouldn’t necessarily want to die, I just wished I didn’t exist anymore. I’d fantasize about getting hit by a truck and boom! Lights out! That sounded easy to me. Over time and over many years and extensive traumas, these thoughts evolved. As my internal pain became deeper and more incessant, my thoughts of suicide became more detailed and held more conviction. Right up until 18-months ago, when I was checked into a facility and asked point blank, how I would do “it” by the on-call physician. I looked at him with tired, sunken eyes and without a moments hesitation told him my game plan. I had been over it in my head a million times by this point and the only thing preventing me from acting it out was the last tiny glimmer of internal strength I had left. I had no fear of death or dying, and this still rings true today. In fact, I was looking forward to it. I think that’s when you know you’ve checked out. Of course, the bastard then went on to debunk my “genius” plan of self destruction and described to me in intimate detail how it both, wouldn’t work and would in fact make my, and my families’ lives much worse. Ughhhhhh, fine I won’t kill myself! Farrrrrrrck! So, in hindsight…cheers dude, you saved my life. Even if I did spend the next hour abusing you for ripping away what, at the time, seemed like my last hope for relief. Saaaarry! 

Even though I am no longer actively suicidal, I have noticed that spending so long in that place has fucked with my neural pathways a bit. I am very quick to jump to suicide as a “solution” to a comparatively minor problem. “Oh nooooiii I lost my slipper! I wish I was dead!”. Okay that may be a slight exaggeration, but the point is, it’s disproportionate. Thankfully, these spells only last a few days or weeks now, which may sound a lot, but compared to TWO BLOODY, MOTHER FEKKING YEARS (hem hem…excuse me, still working though some shtuff…), it’s doable. The other thing that has warped in me wee brain hole is that I find the idea of bringing a child into the world a really horrific concept, and not just because I hear you are meant to poop it out of your delicate lady pocket (that’s science bitches)! No, I’ve never really wanted kids, but that was more from a desire to be a 90’s-Ally McBeal-inspired, career gal. Now it is much more driven by the bone-chilling fear that any child born with my DNA is not only susceptible to cancer and chronic illness, but also holds the potential of developing several debilitating mental illnesses and being raised on a view that the world is a giant cesspool of darkness and suffering! Also Trump is president. So like… I dunno if it’s for moi. Additionally, I have the genuine concern that if I was to have a child, I cannot guarantee that I could survive if I fell into another long-term suicidal episode. It sounds ridiculous I’m sure. “How could you not stick around for your baby?”, “Just think of their smile and all your problems drift into oblivion!” blah blah, motherhood is a gift, blah blah. I remember my first heart break and my last and I don’t want to feel this ever again... it’s just too painful.But being suicidal is not just a deep sadness. It is an all-consuming rotting of your heart and ripping of your soul. It is the sense that you will never ever feel anything but despair, darkness and loneliness for the rest of your life. It is heavy and gnawing and you can feel it physically in the twisting of your gut, the aching of your heart and the heavy, dragging of your limbs. It is desperately trying to stay alive when every second your entire being is begging you to be put out of its misery. It is being on your death bed, without a plug to pull. No release is coming for you. Pure and simple, it is hell on earth. I survived it once. I made it. But, I can not and will not promise a tiny human that I could do that again.

I cannot imagine the hell my mother went through as we sat on my bed together and I wept uncontrollably and desperately begged her to let me die. Begged! I just wanted the permission to let go. Of course she was never going to say “sure kiddo!” and send me on my way. I don’t believe what lead me to this place is necessarily important, but essentially it was a combination of several mental health issues, chronic physical illness and a series of significant deaths and losses that occurred in a very short period of time. Basically, my brain imploded in on itself. I have this theory that a certain amount of trauma strengthens us, but that there is a tipping point at which it becomes too much and we start to buckle under the pressure. From that place, in my experience, it’s hard to rebuild from the rubble. Not impossible, but certainly much more difficult, and that’s where I live now. In a kind of limbo.

I have always said, I am an acquired taste. To quote Ramona Singer, who clearly needs no introduction (but just for the record is an O.G. from The Real Housewives of New York), “I’m an acquired taste. If you don’t like me, acquire some taste!Okay, she’s brash and entirely unlikeable, but she’s got a point. I acknowledge I am a difficult person to get close to, and some may argue, even more difficult to be close to. I don’t have a large group of friends, but the people that have chosen me and accepted me have proven to love me through seriously fucking ugly times. When in a deep depression, people inevitably fall away, and it will hurt like a mother fuck! People you thought would be there through thick and thin will disappear and never come back (I know. Fuck, it’s a real gut punch!). What I have learned is that some (many) people just can’t handle watching someone else suffer, and even more can’t stand the feeling of helplessness that comes with that. It fucking sucks major monkey balls! It really does. But hear this, it is not about you being a burden or a giant pain in the arse. It’s their own baggage burdening them. It’s horrible, especially when you are going through a period of suicidal feelings because you already feel completely alone. I feel you! because she's a sociopathBut if you can, look out for the people who are still on your team through those times. I have constantly been surprised by the people who have come out of the wood works to offer support, friendship, a drink of wine, or an ear to whine at, and from those have come some extremely significant friendships.

:p

Honestly (and unfortunately), this is a hindsight thing. In my experience it is practically impossible to see who is there for you while you are in the midst of it all, and that makes it really tough. It must be tough on the friends that are there too, because I’m sure they feel like they are doing as much as they can, but it’s just not penetrating. Soz y’all! My advice to loved ones would be to become really overt with your affections. Don’t send wishy washy texts like “let me know if you need me/anything.”, this is not helpful. We need so much we don’t even know what we need! Something more like, “OMG you showered today! I’m so proud of you!”, or “I’m picking you up in 10, you need an airing out.”. Don’t organise long outings, they are exhausting; coffee breaks and little walks are plenty. Bring some food like you would if someone was sick, coz um…they are! It’s so easy to forget that. Man, if I received the amount of casseroles I got when I had cancer, while I was terminal with depression, well hot damn!, I would’ve been so full of stewed meats I’d forget what ever made me blue in the first place! Bc I persist through space and time. When I cease to exist in time, I will cease to exist in space. But will I still occupy the space from a previous time or is it all just vapor? Is the moment real? Does anything really mean anything or is it all transitory en route to some greater end? Maybe time is just a chemical reaction and will last as long as the transformation requires. Maybe it's much more complex than that...Alternatively, if you are too busy or someone who struggles to physically engage in difficult situations, take a page one of my beautiful friends’ book and send a box of personalised goodies. A couple of my girlies got together and created a kind of gift box full of simple stuff like chocolates, coloured pencils, a colouring book, some letters of support and calming tea. It made me realise that I was important enough to somebody to have spent time thinking about. I remember feeling like, oh my god, I exist!”Which was bizarre, after feeling like I was less of a person and more of an empty, expansive void for the longest time.

I know I’ve been a bit playful with such a serious topic; I dunno, tears of a clown or some shit. But the issue of having an invisible illness has never been more clear to me than when I was suicidal. I previously used the world “terminal” and I chose that word purposefully, because I have first hand experience that suicide is not a choice. I could seriously rant about this, but I think it is really one of those things that if you haven’t experienced suicidal ideation, it is quite difficult to make sense of. Alternatively, if you have, you will unequivocally know that given the “choice” to feel any differently, of course you would. As previously mentioned, it is not in our genetic make-up to want to die. That indicates something is seriously wrong. In fact, the strength it takes to not commit suicide is actually ludicrous. Lu-da-cris! I have never pulled so much strength from such piddly little reserves in all my life. There is no doubt, I was dying. It was slow, and excruciating, and all I wanted was for it to be over. Grown up? Me? I suppose I have. Killing things, and almost killing myself, must have changed me some, after all.Today I work extremely hard on maintaining my mental health and building my resilience to, well…existence essentially. But for the most part my brain is still like a bowl of mashed potatoes, trying to be squashed back into its jacket and pretending to fit in. I am forever changed; I predominantly view the world with a thin film of shit smeared over the lens, and I live in a perpetual state of existential crisis, but the fact that I am no longer actively suicidal provides insurmountable relief. Zomg I am so fun! Yikes…

Fuck, who knew I had so much to say! Just a couple more things. You are doing so well!

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The reason I wanted to explore how much long-term depression, ruminating thoughts and overriding our survival instincts comes into being actively suicidal, is because of the push-back against important programs like 13 Reasons Why, which explores mental illness and suicidal subject matter. The comment that these programs might be glorifying suicide is honestly laughable to me. Anyone who is contemplating suicide does not watch a program and think, “Ya know what, I didn’t think of that! Great idea!”No, they have most likely been obsessing about it for years before any planning or attempt ever takes place. The most it could do is plant a seed for the ‘how’ of it all, but at the end of the day, someone who doesn’t want to die will be as inspired to commit suicide by a television program, as someone who does will be swayed not to, by watching I dunno…something fun, Full House.? Yes. Great modern example… :/ It’s just not going to have an influence. As much as it may seem like it at the time, suicide is not something that just happens on a whim.

Love the mixed media and surrealism. But there's a goo message behind this one

My final comment is on the remarks that have come out about the high profile suicides recently. I have read a lot of statements about how Robin Williams was such a fun, generous man, Kate Spade was such a bright and talented woman, and Anthony Bourdain was successful and inspiring. All of these comments may be true but it doesn’t mean they didn’t suffer from depression or mental illness. I think there is a misconception that if you have depression, that you are always sad. Just walking around, dragging your feet and moping constantly. It’s not true. You go through periods of depression that may or may not have triggers and sometimes you can cope with them, and other times you can’t. Personally, I am a pretty pessimistic person (if you hadn’t yet figured that out), but I am still fun, funny, interesting, totes adorbs, stunningly good looking (am I getting derailed? Soz), and can experience love and joy, just like anybody else. It may be harder and I certainly need medication and a team of doctors to keep my mash potato brains in place, but it is not that suicide comes out of no where and nobody saw it coming. It is that for whatever reason, on that particular day of their life, it got too hard to fight. It is not a choice, it is not a weakness, or a giving up. It is a death. red-lips-and-heart-candy -#ravishingredAnd personally it is a death I choose to celebrate, because here is somebody who was suffering a great deal, who has finally got the peace and freedom they couldn’t find in this limited physical realm.

People who are suicidal need your love now. While they are at the most unlovable, ugly, irritating versions of themselves. Once they are gone, we can and should celebrate these incredibly individual, sensitive and empathetic people, because they are finally, after a life of struggle, at peace. And I know I am a weirdo, but to me, that is a beautiful thing.

Então, esta é a minha vida. E eu quero que você saiba que, eu sou tanto feliz e triste. E eu ainda estou tentando descobrir como isso poderia ser

Suicide helpline Australia: https://www.lifeline.org.au/ or call 131114

CATT: I have personally used and can endorse the Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team. They were fabulous when I needed them the most. Call: 1300 721 927