I Fink U Freeky (& I like you a lot)

This is an excerpt from my upcoming memoir. Thank you for taking the time to read. 

Graphic Art, Graphic, Zine, Visual Art, Visual, Color Contrast, Poster Art, Photo Manipulation, Layout, Graphic Layout, Webzine, Art of the Day, レイアウト, グラフイック, Design, アート, 写真, Psychedelic Art, Indie Zine, Webzine, イラスト, 60s art inspired, 60s color inspired, Indie art, Trippy ArtSam’s family had long been dedicated to finding the best possible treatments for her, flying her around the globe to access the most cutting-edge medical experts and treatments available. It worked for a while. Sam was relatively well, in cancer terms, for the first three years since her diagnosis. That’s unheard of in the brain cancer world; the general prognosis being 12 months. Throughout those first three years, even on her worst day, she was still able to shine through in that magnetic way that only she could. I know I make her sound like Mother-fricken-Teresa or something. It wasn’t like she had rainbows shining out of her arse (although it wouldn’t have surprised me in the least). It was just that she was so utterly comfortable with who she was, and made no apologies about that. It was inspiring. She wasn’t one of those irritating people that everyone meets and thinks is “nice”. That would’ve offended her. No, she was much more interesting than nice. She was the first person that made me understand the phrase “bored people are boring people,” simply because she radiated fun and excitement, and chased them both as if it was her purpose in life. She was the silliest person I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. She probably only talked to me in her normal voice about 30% of the time; she was too busy playing with accents and squealing in delight about one thing or another. She had unwavering confidence that somehow never came across as arrogant. I have no idea how she did that. I’ve tried to emulate it in feigned confidence on occasion, and every time I’ve come across conceded or strangely aggressive. Honestly, if someone could bottle that shit, they’d make a fortune! She listened to you, and made your dumbest idea feel important. If it mattered to you, it mattered to her. In fact, the sillier or crazier the idea, the better! She didn’t carry the burden of striving for happiness. She was driven by fun; I’ve learned there is a huge difference. In theory her secret weapon was simple, she made people happy. In practice, that’s a remarkable talent.

Sam had this way of seeing parts of you that you had forgotten were there. She saw me as the person I wanted to become before life got on top of me, burying me with burden. She saw me as fun and full of life, without worrying about all the heaviness that followed me around. She looked through my debilitating insecurities and drew out the lightest parts of me. Like a prism, her light shone so brightly that it brought out colours that had been lost for decades. When I felt like I wasn’t enough, she would look me dead in the eye, completely serious and say, “do you think I would be friends with someone boring?” and that was all it took. If the most interesting person I’ve ever met thinks I’m enough, I must be pretty great. I think about that a lot, that if I don’t at least try to love myself, then I am insulting the choice of those that love me for doing so.

One of my favourite memories of Sam is the day she sent me the music video of ‘I Fink U Freeky (and I like you a lot)’ by Die Antwoord, the South African hip hop duo. If you haven’t seen the clip, it is the freakiest fucking shit you’ve ever seen in your life, and it’s fantastic. She sent this to me because 1. it reminded her of me, and 2. and I quote, “You should make stuff like this!”. This was the most ridiculous comparison anyone has ever made for or about my music (which at that time was largely acoustic-pop), and yet I have never felt so seen. Watch the clip if you want to see the twisted depths of my mind, and Sam’s totally fucked up and completely accurate image of me!

CASIE STEWART : this is my life

It wasn’t until her fourth-year post diagnosis, after five brain surgeries too many, an impossible amount of lost hope, and severe pain that it became harder to have these quintessential Sam moments. The first time I noticed it I had turned up to her place, ready for our weekly TV binge and bitch sesh. I knocked on the door and waited for the signature shriek of “Coming Schmooooomyyyy!!!!!” as she bound toward the door like an over-excited puppy to greet me, but instead I heard a sleepy, “come in Schmoo” (I don’t think she called me by my real name once throughout our entire friendship). I figured she was having a bad day, not uncommon for someone in her situation. But in actual fact, it was the beginning of watching my favourite person in the world start to die, right in front of my eyes.

The idle teen who choked on soap. : Photo

I remember seeing those commercials on TV as a kid that talked about how “One in three people you meet will get cancer at some stage in their lives.” this big, scary, male voice decreed into living rooms across Australia. Those figures have since grown of course. I felt guilty, because I wasn’t scared and I didn’t really care. Mostly because I didn’t understand what cancer was or what I was supposed to do about it as an 11-year-old whose biggest concern was how I was going to ‘meet-cute’ Nick Carter. I knew it was a bad thing that grew in your body, and if you got it you died, but I didn’t know what that looked like. Movies would have us believe that once you get cancer you have a bit of a cough and a funny tummy, lose all your hair but pull it off with Amber Rose unyielding beauty, then suddenly you’re hospitalised, before finally dying peacefully surrounded by loved ones. It looks simple, sad and tragic, but simple. It’s not like that. Not at all.

utomaru's illustration tumblr : PhotoWhat you don’t see is the elation of hope when results return a positive result, followed by the subsequent devastation when they take a turn a month later. You don’t see that process played out over and over again until all hope is lost, a little scraped away after each new heartbreak. You don’t see the many times the cancer patient may be in and out of hospital fighting for their lives, and the numerous times family and friends collectively prepare themselves for the worst. The amount of times you grieve prior to losing your loved one is shamefully exhausting. You’re forever on borrowed time. It’s as though you’re supposed to be grateful if you’re told the prognosis is three-months and they survive, clutching at life, for four. The gratitude fades, and fear grows daily like a ticking time bomb. Every day, terrified. You find yourself waiting for something to happen. Something to relieve you of the fear, one way or another. You become disgusted in yourself and heavy with guilt for needing relief at all.

What you don’t see is the process of the body slowly begin to shut down, first in subtle ways that are easy to miss if you’re not looking closely. They become weak, tired, and their once ravenous appetite is now bird-like and scarce, but we brush it off as side-effects from the medication. Maybe that means it working. After all, we also need protecting. Overtime, plans start to change more frequently, until you wait until the last moment to leave your house, just in case they are postponed yet again. We adapt. We all do our best to keep things as ordinary as possible. We start to adjust to our new normal on a weekly, then daily basis. Until one day you see your friend, and they struggle to understand simple concepts, their breathing is laboured, and their appearance now very different from the cancer patients you were shown on film. You catch yourself struggling to recognise your friend in the face staring back at you. In time, they will no longer be able to walk, and again we will adapt, but by now it’s harder to pretend that everything will be okay and that things may still improve. Then finally we get to the part in the movie where you are talking to your best friend in a hospital bed, telling her how much you love her and she’s replying “I love you too Schmoomy”, and you’re trying desperately to hold onto the sound of the words exactly as she’s said them because you are scared of what the next adaptation will be.

Rainbow

Sam died interstate, four-years after she was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma. Her entire family, myself, several of her closest friends and their partners were all there in the final weeks to support her. On the 8th of November 2015 I sat by her bedside, gently clasping her swollen hand. It was my 27th birthday. I wore a necklace of a dreamcatcher that I knew she would like and displayed it to her eagerly. She reached for it with one weak arm, then pointed to a card on the flimsy hospital shelf, which was covered in the vibrant, colourful flowers from all the people whose lives she had touched. The flowers were so plentiful they spilled over onto the floor. I took the card and opened it to see it was for me. A birthday card. She was going to die, there was no longer any doubt about that, and she had the forethought to give me a beautiful, heartfelt birthday card. No doubt she had one ready for the following day, when it would be her brother’s birthday as well. Who thinks of that? No one, that’s who, but Sam did.

The final time I got to tell her how much I loved her is simultaneously the most heart-wrenching and incredibly poignant moment of my life. I remember talking to her, telling her how beautiful she is, and giving her a gentle kiss on the forehead. I remember the freckles lining her nose and the weight of her plump cheeks in my hands. She could no longer speak, and the muscles in her face and eyes were too tired to function. Her eyes welled up as I spoke and I noticed the tiniest amount of tension visible between her brow. “It’s okay Schmoomy, I know you love me too.” I assured her. Her brow softened and she closed her eyes. My heart fucking broke.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow Wall Art | PRINTABLE | Pastel Art | Nursery Rainbow Art | Rainbow PrintabWe lost Sam on the 12th of November when she was just 31, the age I am now. I didn’t realise how young it would feel. I was down the hall when I got the news. All I remember is this guttural scream bursting free of my chest, as another group of hospital visitors looked on. I tried to stand up, to run to her bedside, but my legs buckled beneath me. I fell to my knees as Dave weakly patted my shoulder. There there. Sam’s beautiful friend flew down the corridor and scooped me up from the hospital floor. I buried my face in her cushion-like chest and sobbed. She held me, rocking my shocked, limp body like a baby as Dave shuffled awkwardly in his seat. In that moment, I hated him.

 

 

 

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.

Image result for just keep swimming

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

 

Nostalgia – ‘That’ Guy

This time last year I was getting ready for my trip to Spain. Missin' it like crazy! :(

Definition of nostalgia. 1: the state of being homesick: homesickness. 2: a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition also: something that evokes nostalgia. – Merriam Webster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

imagem descoberto por 'gabi. Descubra (e salve!) suas próprias imagens e vídeos no We Heart ItA few days ago I had a dream. It was one of those dreams that is felt so viscerally that even upon waking you just can’t shake it. In fact, this particular dream stayed with me all day like a weight on my chest. Now, I am a dreamer by nature. I dream a lot. I have terrible nightmares, beautiful daydreams, and strange fantasies. For better or worse, the majority of my life is spent in my head. But even some of the most gruesome nightmares, or heart wrenching dreams about loved ones passed, haven’t stung me like this.

In concept it was simple; I saw my ex and he told me he loved me. I remember maybe a minute of it, but the sheer intensity, the connection, the detail, that’s what shook me.

i love youI held his strong, comforting arms as he pulled me close. I felt the bristles of his untrimmed facial hair brush my cheek as I burrowed into the crook of his neck. I could smell him. His smell. I had forgotten how sweet, yet earthy it was. Like him; gentle, but grounded. When I looked at him, his blue eyes swallowed me up like pools of water. I could see his every freckle and the deepening crinkles around his eyes. I could see his sadness and his fatigue, but in the way that only I would be able to notice. He was stoic and calm on the outside, as always. I could feel his fingers grip me tightly, keeping me safe and reminding me I am his, but still allowing me space to move and be free. Knowing he could never tame me, and that trying would be futile. He wore his own clothes. His real clothes. Not make believe things I had concocted in my mind. The smell. My heart was aching with a sense of foreboding. Maybe knowing deep down that I was going to wake up. And then he spoke. He said my name. The way only he could say it. The way that reminds you that you belong to someone in the best possible way. The way where you can hear they have said it, let it roll around their mouths and truly felt it thousands of times. It’s not even a name anymore, it’s just you. He gripped my face with his slightly weathered hands, freckled on the backs, with soft palms, and lightly calloused fingers. Hands that have never been raised to me, and only ever brought me pleasure. Hands that know more of my body than I know myself. And he just said, “I love you.”. That’s all he said, over and over. Torturously he repeated, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”. Each time he said it with more certainty, desperate to convince me of the truth behind the words, and with my eyes closed in my nostalgic dreamland, I believed him.

See you tonight.

In truth, he could’ve been saying anything. What he was saying was brutal, but what really stuck with me the whole day was simply hearing the sound of his voice. Three years. That’s how long it has been since I’ve heard that voice. Yet, in the depths of my subconscious, I still know its every nuance. The recreation was faultless. Every infliction and change in intonation that, despite the words being said, would tell me everything about how he is (…was) feeling. Every pause. Every breath between words. The warmth, the timbre, the depth. It was perfect. I was jealous of the words for being inside his mouth. For being part of him. And of all the things he could have said, he chose to say my name. Mine. I felt special before realising my mistake. I’m just a sleepy girl in a room repeating her own name to herself, trying to get it just right. I wonder what my name sounds like from his lips today. I’m sure he wouldn’t even know. I wonder…but I don’t want to know.

The not knowing of the others thoughts leads self to create false world with hopes that never becomeThey say a separation is as painful as a death. For me, this has been true. There are too many significant voices out there that I can never hear again. Voices that have spoken to me before I was even born (my father), and voices of those who have kept me alive with their strength, despite their lives coming to an end. And then there is ‘him’. His voice is still floating around out there somewhere. Saying other peoples’ names with conviction. Avoiding mine. But just like the voice of my father, I will never hear it again. And in his case, I really don’t want to.

Lana Del Rey #LDR #art #This_is_What_Makes_Us_Girls ♡♡♡Nostalgia; a word that paints such a delicate and romantic scene, but in actual fact, is quite cruel. Nostalgia takes (or creates) a beautiful memory and inserts a sense of longing, that by its very nature is unattainable. It is reaching out for something you loved and never being able to touch it again. The nostalgia of my dream created an idealised version of someone who has never existed. The ultimate dream-man, if you will. Whereas in my waking life, this person is demonised as a form of self-preservation. I must make him the baddie in my story or ill never wake up. Why would I if ‘dream-man’ is just a snooze button away? But the truth is that somewhere between these two creations lies some version of the truth. Not a demon, nor a dream. Just a guy doing the best he can. Not someone who could have saved me, or had the presumed power to destroy and break me. Just a guy who entered my heart when I wasn’t quite ready, and overstayed his welcome. Just a guy. 

 

LOL!! Not All The Time But It Happens.. This Girl Talks A Lot Of Shit :)

 

 

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

 

The Cancer Chronicles Part 4: The Hospital

Below is an X-ray of what my spine looks like today, post spinal fusion. What you can see is the entire thoracic spine, fused together by titanium rods and screws. The contraption you see in the middle is the metal cage that was filled with powdered bone from one of my ribs, as a replacement for the vertebrae they removed. To the left of this metal contraption, on the left image, you can vaguely see an additional missing rib, which was removed as it was also infected by the cancer. The goal is that the rods will not move at all. I am just lucky that the thoracic area is the least mobile of the entire spine so it is not as noticeable as it would be in the lumbar or cervical areas. But, not gonna lie, it’s still a total buzz kill! 

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X-Ray of My Spinal Fusion

 

For context, please first catch up on Part 1 & Part 2 of ‘The Cancer Chronicles’ at the links provided. Or alternatively, pick up at Part 3 for a mini re-cap. 

10 Preposterous Reasons for Calling in Sick to Work -- Pretending to have a bad head cold sounds so boring compared to these sick day excuses!After the nightmare of waking up prematurely post surgery with the breathing tube still down my throat, things slowly started to improve over the next several days. By day three I was moved into my own room and out of the madness that was the intensive care unit (ICU). I was finally relieved of the plastic drainage tube that had been wedged between my fractured ribs and partially deflated lung, allowing my breath to deepen from the bird-like sips of air I was previously taking in. Although still painful to breathe, this meant I no longer felt like I was suffocating. Praise baby Jesus! My nurses regularly encouraged me to cough, as to avoid a build up of fluid in my lungs, but the idea of that level of pressure against my bruised and wounded ribs was chilling. So, being the brat that I am, I would just look at them with you-gotta-be-shitting-me eyes, before letting out a pitifully weak, fake cough. This would usually be enough to be left alone for another day or so, before my acting chops would once again be put to the test.

Clover's room should get progressively messier.At this stage I was still “nil by mouth”, meaning I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything for 5-days’ post surgery. The eating wasn’t a problem, I was so out of it on medication and bloated beyond recognition that I wouldn’t feel like eating for weeks (Disclaimer: However effective, I do not indorse this as a healthy form of weight loss… unless of course muscle-wasting-chic is your thang). However, the lack of water was torturous. I wasn’t even allowed ice chips. On a really special day my concerningly pregnant nurse would lean over me and dab a water-soaked cotton bud onto my dry, cracked lips (the same lips she would occasionally slather a thick layer of my favourite lip balm on, to help them heal. The smell of which now makes me dry heave). I was pathetically grateful and lapped up those cool, droplets of water like heroin! Which incidentally, I was allowed, in the form of morphine. What a world! I began begging the nurses to give me even a tiny sip of water but it was futile. I remember finally being allowed some ice chips to suck on. I must have looked so hopelessly ecstatic because the nurse looked at me and let out a slightly sorry grin as she handed me the tiny cup of frozen heaven. I would place a single chip at a time in my mouth, savouring each morsel. One by one I would let them melt on my tongue, enjoying the cold liquid for a moment before letting it drizzle down my throat with utter satisfaction. Momentary sweet relief.

♥barf farm cult♥I don’t know how to describe the pain that could even provide a glimpse of the all consuming, relentlessness of it. It was pain like I have never known before or since, and hope to never experience again. It was pain that made you pray for death just for the relief. But it would be the unexpected losses, which I had zero control over, that would end up testing my already fragile mental strength to the absolute limit. I recall the actual decision making process that I went through just to be okay with giving over any and all remaining dignity, as well as trying to override my basic human instincts and needs. I knew that if I let my desperation or pride get the better of me in any way, I’d be ruined. I would not make it. So you just don’t let your mind go there. You can’t. You must accept the pain of being split in two, because you are already on as much medication as is therapeutically possible. You gratefully accept that fact that your pee drains into a catheter, because you are unable to even roll to one side on your own, let alone stand and walk to the toilet 3 feet away. And you must find a way to let go of any sense of ego, as you will now be whore-bathed daily by nurses you’ve just met (who, for some cruel reason, all happen to look like Victoria Secret models. Is that a perk of private health?). There is no ideal way to prepare for a challenge of this magnitude. I was just thrust in and started to pray (for the first time in my previously self-absorbed life) to everyone and anyone I could think of, that I would have the mental stamina to survive. I'm sorrySitting with intense uncomfortably and allowing things (everything) to happen to and for me, is a lesson I wish I could have carried out of that hospital, into my real life. Because if you don’t give up, what you find you are capable of is nothing short of superhuman. It’s completely fucked! But it’s astounding. It’s like you are forced to access this tiny corner of yourself that despite everything, still has the ability to find a little glimmer of calm, even though everything else in you wants to scream, cry and die. Let me be really clear. I am not special. I did not access this place out of strength, tenacity or positivity (lol). Quite the opposite actually. I found it because I literally had no other option. All the overt reactions that I desperately wanted to pursue, had been stripped from me. Calmness, found me, out of necessity. It was pure survival instinct.

haleyincarnate

I found being washed difficult. Not because I’m overflowing with dignity, in fact, I could probably do with a healthy helping of shame! No, more so because my body was so unrecognisable that I felt obligated to apologise and justify myself. Here’s something you don’t learn watching Grey’s Anatomy; it turns out when your body goes through such extreme physical trauma, it sort of ‘freaks out’ and all the fluid moves toward the surface as a protective mechanism. Don’t ask me the science behind it, but it’s essentially full-body swelling. Not dissimilar to when you sprain your ankle and it explodes into a cankle…only, everywhere. I found this quite confronting; and not only due to the exceptional uncomfortability of having my skin stretched to capacity like a human water balloon, or because my hands looked like someone blew up a pair of rubber gloves. Disappointingly, I was ashamed of my size (I can hear the eye rolls from here, trust me, I feel you!). Let’s attempt to make some sense of this utter head-fuckery, shall we? First of all, I am but a girl raised in an image-focussed world, which from the moment I first blinked was constantly reminding me that skinny and youthful is the only way to be worthy in this world (of what exactly? A man? Success? Existence? This part was never made clear to us women. It is seemingly unimportant as long as we resemble a Hadid or Kardashian).  Additionally, I had gone into surgery very thin, too thin in hindsight. As the “good” little, recovering anorexic that I was; I obsessively followed the all-organic, sugar-free, gluten-free, protein-free, joy-free, real-life-free, “cancer-healing” lifestyle (AKA mentally toxic diet) that had been suggested to me at Camp Cancer (not it’s real name)! So, when I woke up looking moon-faced and 6-months pregnant, it was (yet another) shock I was not anticipating. How’s that for a mind fuck?

.I think a lot of us have this idea that overcoming something as supposedly life-altering as cancer or a serious illness, guarantees us personal evolution and growth. Well, turns out…it ain’t that simple kids! *insert chain of expletives here* I was in a hospital with brilliant nurses who I was required to trust with everything from feeding me, to wiping my butt and here I was, worrying that they thought I was fat! Even in my morphine-fuelled paranoia I could step outside myself and see how insanely ridiculous that was, but fuck me, old habits die hard. Was I concerned about the foot-long scar that was now lining my back? Nurp. The fact that I would essentially be bed bound for the next 6-months? Hmm, not so much. I worried that my carers were gathering around the water cooler, talking about the HUGE bitch in room 305, as if they had nothing better to do! *Face palm*

On that incredibly discouraging note, I do want to add that 6 years on, the care-factor for how my body is perceived by others has decreased immensely. I am unsure however, if that is the trauma finally settling in and doing some helpful work, or if it just comes with age and experience. Like anything, it’s likely a mixture of many factors. This showed me that managing my expectations would serve me well. As yet, I have not mastered this fundamental skill, but hey, knowing is half the battle right? ….Right..? I was so disappointed in myself for giving a flying shit about my body swelling up like the elephant man, instead of directing all my energy into my healing. This was anxiety that was completely unnecessary and unhelpful. Photo of a Skinny White Girl by Jay Littman Proposed billboard-based art project in Los Angeles, CA meant to challenge beauty standards and other accepted values in contempory culture.The reason it upsets me so much is that I have seen it before in loved ones who have had terminal cancers. They are dying and yet further their suffering by devastating themselves over the weight gained from their steroids and other medications. It is truly heartbreaking and, in all honestly, I don’t know what we can do about it. How about diversifying the way in which women are portrayed in media, destroying all social media platforms (or why not the internet all together!), and taking down the patriarchy once and for all! Might be a good jumping off point? Who’s with me! … Yeah, this could take a while… 

Image result for he split robin's arrow in twain gifAs I was lying in my hospital bed stressing that I looked like a shiny, overgrown baby, my nurses were more concerned about how to turn, wash and moisturise me. I had to be rotated and marinated, like a pig on a spit, a couple of times a day as to avoid bed sores and help blood circulation, as I couldn’t move on my own. The problem was that my spine was in twain and still far to vulnerable to risk twisting it in any way. Therefore, it would take 3-4 nurses to perform said spit-roast… I mean turn. There would be someone on each shoulder, at least one person on my legs and hips and on a lucky day, I would even get someone to man my head. This was all just to roll me onto my side for a maximum of 20 seconds so they could scrub me down, lather me up with moisturiser, and quickly lie me back down. Look, I love attention more than Mariah loves a high note, but I did not look forward to these turns. I couldn’t breathe on my side as the pressure of the bed against my rib was too much for my weakened lungs to push against. I would have to time my breath right before they rolled me and hope I would have enough air in my lungs to last the distance. I only remember one time I was left on my side for too long and I started to splutter for air. I was just starting to pass out as the team of nurses returned me onto my back.

Amy Winehouse and her Father Mitch Winehouse the Thursday before her death. The last time they were ever together. Rest in Peace Amy. Gone but never forgotten.

For the most part, my nurses were wonderful with me; kind, gentle and sensitive in delicate situations. One was even so sweet while wiping my ass that I cried and wrote her a thank-you note! She was truly an angel and definitely in the right job. The doctors were different however. Obviously extremely talented and proficient in their fields, but often lacking patience and compassion to the same degree. I had a really horrible experience in ICU when the nurses designated to my bedside were unable to access a vein to insert one of my cannulas. My poor little veins were like dried up worms left in the sun too long, as I was so completely dehydrated. The nurses had tried numerous times in each of my elbows and just as I overheard them talking about shoving it in between my toes, in an ohmage to Amy Winehouse, a doctor came over in a huff. We were clearly wasting his precious time. I was high as a fucking kite and only 24-hours out of surgery at this stage, but even I could tell this guy was being a jack-ass! He was acting as if it was my fault for not having plumb, juicy veins and the nurses’ incompetence for not being able to access them. In his anger for being called down to perform such a ‘menial’ task he started stabbing at my wrist with the thick needle. This is the tattooed, pinup, badass that lives in my head. She makes this exact gesture with more frequency and vigor than I care to admit.I don’t know how many times he tried before he decided this was getting cruel and he went to get some numbing cream so he could continue his massacre. However, I do know that 6 years on, I still have 5 small scars on my left wrist from this incident. Just for comparisons sake, I had dozens of cannulas in each elbow and wrist over the course of the 2 weeks I was in hospital and hundreds of blood tests taken in the same elbow over my 2 years of treatment. Despite that, I do not have one single scar in any other area, other than where this c*nt-monkey butchered me. Again, I couldn’t cry, scream or tell him to go “eat a bag of dicks!” as much as I would have loved to, as this would only increase my discomfort. But there was no preventing the silent tears that were rolling down my cheeks. The nurses’ felt my pain and comforted me gently but they had no power in this situation, and neither did I. He probably thought I wouldn’t remember how he treated me because of the state I was in, but this was one of the most traumatic parts of the whole procedure and there was absolutely no need for it to be. I felt like an annoying, irrelevant, pin cushion.

[pinterest:.@ninaaxna]Unfortunately, this was not my only disturbing interaction with a doctor. This is tough for me to write, even as the over-sharer that I am. As even for me, it is hard to make sense of. After about one week in hospital, still in an extremely delicate condition, my primary surgeon came in to check-up on me and deliver some news. For context, I had only re-learned how to sit up at day 5 and attempted standing for the first time, around day 6 or 7. This is important, because had I been physically able, I would have flown across the room and beat the living shit out of his scalp-happy ass; Negan from The Walking Dead style. Trust and believe! But, I digress. He entered my room, where mum was sitting by my bedside. He had this strange, nervous grin on his face as he told me the medical team had been analysing the area of my spine they had just removed. I could tell he was dancing around telling me something important, but as he had essentially just saved my life, I was trying to be polite and attentive. I can not recall his exact words, because as he spoke my head filled up with so much burning rage that all I could hear was a high-pitched squeal and the pounding of my own heartbeat between my ears. But the general gist was this…

another sugar coated bullshitHe stood wringing his hands and standing with his back to the wall, as far away from me as he could physically get. Even as a 23-year-old, weak, immobile girl; I still must have looked fucking terrifying. Good. He stammered anxiously over his words as he told me that the vertebrae they had removed no longer contained the tumour they had cut me open to retrieve. I stared silently at him, oscillating between blind rage and complete heartbreak. My face must have been displaying this, because I’ve never seen a fully grown, highly accomplished man, so petrified in my life. There I was, lying in front of him in agony so severe that I am in and out of consciousness and he has just told me that I am and was, tumour free all along. What the actual dick? I felt like I was going to be sick. I fell into shock and although I didn’t feel in my body anymore, I heard myself ask all to politely, “So…why did you do the surgery?”, to which he nervously chuckled and replied, “I thought you’d ask that.”. DID YOU? Did you think I’d ask that?! My, your powers of deduction astound me sir! Fucking ass hat.

https://flic.kr/p/jf9omn | 7415 |  I Facebook page IIn reality, I have to give the nerd a break, but it’s tough man. He went on to explain that the treatment had been so successful in converting my jelly-like tumour into bone, that it had calcified it entirely. This was a good thing and what we had hoped the chemo would do, but it had exceeded expectations in its efficacy. I think it was assumed it would calcify the outer layer of the tumour but not the entirety. Therefore, they were shocked upon opening it up to find only more calcified bone. He further explained that had the tumour been somewhere less dangerous, such as a toe for example, he would have considered taking me off the chemo and testing whether or not the tumour reverted back to its previous, jelly-like state (which was the suspected outcome) or whether it safely remained as new bone. However, due to the proximity of my tumour to my spinal cord and the risk of paralysation, this was not a chance my medical team were willing to take. I understand this and could even make sense of it at the time, despite my anger and confusion. But in all honestly, I think I would have been happier just not knowing. I could have lived in blissful ignorance for the rest of my life…or at least wait until I have full use of my limbs again! The timing wasn’t ideal…

NellyRodiLabThis whole experience, both in the short and long-term, has taken so much of my health, happiness and life. Therefore, it’s almost impossible not to wonder what could have been. Maybe the tumour comes back and I end up having the surgery, leaving me in the same position I am in now… but maybe it doesn’t, and my life could have been so immeasurably different. Better. I know it isn’t that simple, and getting locked on ‘what ifs’ is a dangerous place to live, but when I look at my life before and after the surgery, I can’t help but think, what if we had just tried. Now, 6 years on and I am unable to work from living with sever chronic pain and trauma-induced fibromyalgia (me and Gaga alike!), my mental health is under constant strain, and my weeks are broken down into which day I see certain medical specialists. I desperately crave a life that isn’t dictated by how I feel when I wake up in the morning. It has been a long time. Way too long. And unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be something you get used to. Not for me anyway. I do not seem to be gaining acceptance of my condition or strength with time. In truth, I feel as though I’m eroding. I am tired; a to the bone, heavy hearted, just fucking exhausted, kind of tired.

So, from the bottom of my old, shrivelled heart, thank you for reading. This little blog gives me purpose and helps me clarify and confront parts of my life that I have been running from and burying for a very long time. I never really expected anyone to read, but you are, and it’s truely humbling. Whether you are simply reading, commenting on my writing or offering an insight into how you have been able to relate to my stories, it is all deeply encouraging. Every one of you who takes an interest in my writing contributes to my life in an extremely profound way. Once again, thank you. 

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The Cancer Chronicles Part 3: Surgery

Please catch up on Parts 1 & 2 of The Cancer Chronicles here first.

But if you can’t be arsed here’s the cheats run down:

Your Facebook posts. Truth. (By Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber)

After 18-months of experimental chemo which essentially transformed my ‘jelly-like’ cancer into bone (supposedly temporarily), I am now ready for surgery. The operation will remove the offending T6 vertebra and a corresponding rib, which have been entirely ‘eaten’ away by the cancer. Then I will have a full spinal resection which involves fusing my entire thoracic (mid) spine together with titanium rods (from T2-T8 for any anatomy nerds out there). No, I don’t beep through airport security, but yes, they did write me a doctors note “just in case”. Fun times!

 

23.2.2012 – Night Before the Surgery

15 Wallpapers para celular com frases inspiradoras! - Tudo para TudoI am lying in a large communal hospital bedroom with the rest of the patients that have been herded in the night before our various early morning surgeries. It’s eerily quiet, aside from the occasional painful groan, making the subsequent silence even more disturbing. I have been given Valium to calm my nerves and help me sleep but it hasn’t worked the way I had hoped. Instead of floating off into a sweet slumber I feel as though I am peering through the eyes of someone else’s limp body. My physical symptoms of anxiety have lifted but I am still hyper aware that I am waking up to a 9-hour surgery marathon; in which a large chunk of my spine and ribs will be sawed out, ground up, reassembled with screws, rods and “chicken wire” and I’ll be zipped back up, sans tumour. My brain is in full blown panic but my body is listening to reggae and smoking a doobie! Where the fuck was brains invite?

24.2.2012 – Morning of the Surgery

edie nadelhaft fine art: BLTCIt’s 6am when my family start to arrive to bid me their final goodbyes … I mean, wish me luck. They don’t look nearly devastated enough for my liking. I was expecting long-winded speeches of love and adoration, choked through held-back tears. But as the male half of my family are predominantly ‘on the spectrum’ and generally socially awkward, I accept my well wishes with an unsurprised grimace. Eventually I am wheeled into a small pre-surgery, private waiting room. Mum follows me in to keep me company and offers some much needed distraction through a little nervous joking. It is appreciated. I am quickly wrapped up in a body-length, inflatable, plastic sheet, called the Bair Hugger. Its entire job is to lie on top of patients prior to surgery, while warm air is continuously pumped inside, inflating it like a giant, warm, balloon. Heaven. The aim of this contraption is to raise my body temperature in preparation for laying naked in a bitterly cold operating room for the duration of the surgery. After all, I can’t be poking anyone’s eye out with my frozen nips! That would be an OH & S hazard.

my heartMy elbows and wrists start being hurriedly jabbed with several cannulas on each side. These will transport different concoctions I will be shot-up with throughout surgery and post op. However, as I have been “nil by mouth” for almost 24 hours by this stage, my veins are dehydrated, slippery and hard to locate. My arms have also copped a fair bit of abuse over the previous 2-years as part of the weekly blood tests I have been required to have during my treatment. By the fourth failed attempt at inserting my anaesthetic IV, the anaesthetist gives up and decides to knock me out with gas. Praise be! Mum and I are both trying to be brave for one another but her eyes start to well up as I am wheeled into the operating room (OR), and I let a very dramatic, soap-opera-esc, single tear fall from my cheek as I drift off. So here I am; after 3 years of chronic pain, chemo and distress over this exact moment, I was out. Let the show begin!

25.2.2012 – First Morning Post-Op (ICU)

♡Pinterest:Darlin-J

From this moment on things devolve into a bit of a blur. This is due in part to the IV of morphine being gratefully poured into my veins, as well as the uncontrollable physical pain that my body copes with by repeatedly sending me unconscious. It’s early morning when I start to come-to in the intensive care unit (ICU). A nurse tries to quietly perform my observations (Obs) without waking me but she’s unsuccessful, mostly due to the screams of bloody murder I can hear coming from behind the curtain opposite me. All around me I hear the incessant beeping of hospital machinery, randomly timed guttural screeches, and groaning I can only liken to the sound made by the zombies in The Walking Dead. Fuck. The second my brain wakes up the hell begins.

 I wake up reaching desperately for my throat. I’m choking. I feel unrecognisable pain everywhere. Everywhere. Pain like I’ve never felt in my life and it’s coming from all angles. But the overwhelming sensation is that I am suffocating. I look at the nurse by my side with wide, horrified eyes. My arms are filled with 3 to 4 cannulas each so it’s awkward and uncomfortable to lift my hands toward my throat, but I try. I must look like a Halloween mummy; grunting with arms outstretched, barley bending at the elbows and flailing hopelessly. I’m trying to simulate a choking action to tell her I can’t breathe. She gently smiles and tells me that my anaesthetic ran out earlier than anticipated and I shouldn’t be awake yet (sorry wot?). I want to scream, “Well I am bitch! Knock me back the fuck out before I knock YOU out!” but I can’t speak as I still have the breathing tube down my throat. It is propelling air into my lungs as they cannot breathe on their own while under the anaesthetic. Once conscious however, the brain wants to control your breathing again. So essentially, my lungs are being controlled by two parties who will not listen to each other. It. Is. Horrific. When the teacher says you have to do he essay again because it wasn't good enoughThe only way I can describe the sensation is by asking you to imagine a freshly caught fish. You catch said fish and plonk it down on the pier as it flops and writhes around, gasping hopelessly. It is so desperate that it flings its little body around, searching for water to help it catch a breath. Its gills frantically open and close but no oxygen gets in. It becomes increasingly desperate, taking quick, shallow, empty breaths, unsuccessfully. Nothing else matters, it is fighting for its life, and then… well you know what happens next. That’s how it feels to be conscious with a breathing tube down your throat. Like a hopelessly, desperate, dying fish.

✧pin & insta | @ninabubblygum✧I instantly regret having the surgery and wished with every fibre of my being that I would die. Please let me die. I don’t want to let myself cry because if I cry my breathing will further alter and I am sure the small amount of air I am currently sipping in will be lost. So my eyes just well up to the brim (or should I say bream…sorry, inappropriate) and let tears pathetically slip out. The nurse wipes them away as I stare daggers at her, and calmly tells me “it will all be okay“, and that “the doctor will be down to remove the tube in 2-hours, but for now I am too weak to risk removing it. I am in disbelief. She’s going to leave me here suffocating, spluttering and praying for death for two more hours?! I would tear this bitch a new one if I could move anything but my eye balls, but instead, all she gets is the stink-eye of a life-time. Huh! That’ll show her!  Please, I’m begging you, let me die

4-hours Later

 My blood pressure remains dangerously low, so I am kept on the breathing tube for what ends up being the next 4-hours. I employ every bloody bullshite meditation/ calming/relaxation tool I’ve ever learnt in my years of yoga training and psychotherapy, but all I can do is watch the clock tease me as seconds tick by like days. Occasionally I am blessed with unconsciousness, most likely from the systemic pain or perhaps the lack of oxygen that comes from breathing like a dying amphibian. Each time I come-to I desperately hope that the clock will tell me an hour has passed, only to find it has been just a few minutes. This happens torturously often, until finally I am told it’s time. Halle-fucking-lujah bitches, the tubes-a-coming out! It has taken all of me to resist yanking it out myself, unlike Kourtney Kardashian pulling her own baby out from her ‘special area’ (true story), and it’s finally fucking happening!

\//\\//\\//\\//\\//\\//\\//\\//\\//\\//\\//\\//\\//The foot-long, plastic tubing is gently slid from my throat and I am filled with anticipated relief. I am encouraged to “breathe nice and deeply” as to prevent fluid settling in my lungs, resulting in pneumonia. I eagerly take my first breath and gasp gratefully for air, but am instantly met with sharp, stabbing pain in my sides and return to my horrible but safe, dying fish breath. Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed!?”, I bark in a panic at the heavily pregnant nurse, stationed constantly to my bedside. Well not nothing, now I can speak. Now I can choke out, “am I fucking dying!?”, and WHY is a woman whose water is about to blow at any moment, my primary carer?! GO HOME!”. But I don’t… I’m too exhausted. I go back to staring at the clock tragically and stifling back tears. I lost 10% of my blood during surgery, my body feels like a dead weight. I don’t have enough energy to lift my finger, which feels like lead, much less to yell and scream out, “Help me!”, to a woman who probably has feet swollen like water balloons and yet is here, caring for me.

@antiihero ¡¡It turns out the breathing tube was only a minor part of the breathing problem. Who’da cunting thunk it! I have tubes and wires coming out of every obvious orifice and just because I clearly don’t already have enough holes in my delicate female body, they have decided to create a few more. The one in question being a drainage tube wedged between my left lung and ribs to reduce fluid build-up. My lung was partially deflated during the surgery as it was in the way of getting to the tumour. This meant that now, every breath inflated my lungs (as breathing is known to do), causing them to push against my rib cage and crush painfully against the drainage tube. It’s reminiscent of the sharp pain of a stich in your side, if like, you were also getting stung repeatedly in the throat by a dozen angry wasps, and fire ants were eating your organs from the inside out. Oh, and you have emphaseema. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up! I was handed a folded up towel to press against my ribs for supportive pressure as I breathed or God forbid, coughed, sneezed or vomited. It would be two days until the drainage tube was removed. This meant two more days of breathing with the ‘death rattle’ that I had only ever witnessed once before; in a loved one, days before she passed away. Two more days of watching that arse-hole clock tick tortuously in front of my face. Two more days of trying not to cry through the most all-consuming pain I’ve ever endured. Please, for the love god, let me die.

 I think this was the day I gave up striving (or was it fighting?) for everything I believed I was owed, just by purely being alive. This was the moment I relinquished all control and any hope that we have the ability to create the life we desire by simply working hard and being a “good girl”! I had been a girl who grew up controlling every morsel of food I ate, every anxious word I spoke and every single move I made was born out of an idealised future, planned years in advance. I worked hard at school, didn’t smoke cigarettes or take drugs and I had big dreams and ambitions. But then here I was. I had been “good” to the point of turning myself inside out my entire life. “Perfect” to the point that it had almost killed me as I starved myself in an attempt to be ‘beautiful’. And yet, nothing I loved or desired was manifesting itself through my blood, sweat and tears. My dream to be a singing sensation was on hold because it turns out, it’s very difficult to sing opera with a tumour pushing on your lungs. My yoga career was suspended indefinitely, as it’s unwise to bend yourself into a pretzel when your spine is essentially made of jelly. My boyfriend was pulling away  because my cancer reminded him of his mothers death. And now, all I wanted to do was cry and I couldn’t even do that for fear of passing out from the pain! Well, FUCK THIS!

Modern Love – Les relations destructrices de Peter Nidzgorski | Ufunk.net

Unfortunately, I’ve never been one to do anything by halves or learn the meaning of the word “balance”, so releasing my inner control freak did not result in a calmer, more laid back version of me. I went to the extreme (surprise, fucking surprise). I didn’t find freedom in letting go, I found resentment, bitterness and anger in the discovery of the random unfairness of life. I started to see that things don’t always happen for a reason. You’re not always going to grow and learn from some tragic life event. There isn’t a finite amount of shit that can be flung at you before it turns around and life becomes sunshine and ice-cream-shitting unicorns! No. It’s fucking morbid and maybe (hopefully!) it’s just me, but this event was the first of many that taught me that life is seemingly just a random cluster-fuck of moments, that sometimes we can influence, but often we can’t. And as an eternal control-freak up until this point, that Pissed. Me. Off.

 I flipped life on its head and somewhat unconsciously became the “anti-me”. Fun fact! It turns out the opposite to the permanently anxious, ridged, “good” girl version of me is a loose-moraled, highly corruptible, wildly volatile, life-of-the-party “bad” girl… and she’s as fun as she is insane!

In the words of Tay Tay, “The old [me] can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh cause she’s dead.”

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

Life on the Borderline: living with BPD

The other day my favourite human sent me, what was for him, a really simple, throw-away text message. We were texting back and forth for hours, as we do, while simultaneously bingeing on some trashy Bravo T.V. goodness (#lifegoals). Lisa Rinna -I made a comment about the most recent idiotic/impulsive decision I had made and after thorough personal analysis (hours of obsessive torment), I concluded it was probably driven by the total lack of emotional regulation that comes from my, oh! so convincing and always ‘interesting’; borderline personality disorder (BPD). If only blaming all my troubles on mental illness stood up in a court of law… ho hum! It is unfortunate, but the only mental illness I am still worried about being stigmatised for is BPD. So naturally, I must write about it. I have been told that many doctors refuse to treat it as they see it as a hopeless case. I’ve been marked as an ‘un-dateable’, being told “I can deal with the bipolar but NOT BPD!”.  And honestly… I get it. The perception of the condition is that of a selfish, manipulative, highly sensitive, suffocatingly needy, soul-sucking-dementor and quite frankly, that image isn’t entirely wrong (except in my case I tend to feed on the human heart, as opposed to souls. Just a personal preference). It doesn’t matter how I dress up or rationalise my volatile outbursts or ‘irrational’ behaviours (but by golly I’ll try!); like how they stem from issues of abandonment rooted in childhood, or how I can justify the fact that my ‘positive’ emotions are just as strong as the ones that make me act out. Meaning my capacity for love is so great that Romeo and Juliette would pale by comparison! It’s irrelevant, because at the end of the day, I am erratic and unpredictable and that makes people uncomfortable. To 8F4F915C-A13E-4920-94C9-87C80080BB78quote Rhianna, I can go from “zero to sixty in 3.5” and it freaks people the fuck out! I prefer to think of myself as an acquired taste, like foie gras or that fish that will poison you to death if you eat the wrong piece…but mostly it just means I am seen as rather off-putting, dangerous and unnecessarily over-the-top. So, when my bestie casually text me saying “Your BPD is my favourite thing about you.”, the kid got me shook! I don’t think I had ever felt so completely accepted by anyone in my entire life. Okay, I’ll level with you, there’s no denying he is a total fucking weirdo himself, but hey, all the best people are…

You're My Favourite Mistake (Blue) Limited Edition Print, Rebecca Maso – CultureLabel

I’m an open book. If you’ve read any of my blogs you know that I ain’t holding back, but when it comes to my relationships with people, I won’t lie, it’s difficult. I’m difficult. I have many acquaintances and very few close friends. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a riot for a night out! Take me to a party and I will own that shit! Jokes are on fire, I’m looking tight, charm-factor is turnt up, I know how to use words like turnt and lit. For a night of debauchery and fun, I’m your girl! But, as the trail of ex-boyfriends I’ve left behind will attest to, I’m hard work long-term. “Exhausting” is a word I’ve heard a lot. In fact, this isn’t easy to write, as the majority of my brain glitches stem from my intense fear of abandonment. There is the rational fear that reading this could potentially push the few people I hold dear away and prevent me from becoming closer to others. But as someone who knows what it feels like to carry the burden of BPD, I think it’s important to be assured that we are not alone and we are loveable. There are other weirdos out there just like you, who will understand you and see your ‘flaws’ as your greatest superpowers! On a completely unrelated note: PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME! I LOVE YOU! I’LL LOVE YOU TO DEATH!

Love me | neon

If you’re unfamiliar with BPD, a quick google search is sure to scare your thong right off (if I haven’t done that already). But unless you are a truly extreme case, it tends to blend so fluidly into our personalities that we are often simply seen as sorta kooky, dramatic and highly sensitive. The creative type, if you will. As the child of a very charismatic drama teacher and an aspiring thespian in my own right, this worked in my favour a lot of the time. maconmesmileIn primary school my music teacher labelled me “the girl of a thousand faces!”, because I was a different person everyday. Nowadays, I’m pretty sure there is medication for that… However, as much as I could hide my constant need for validation and acceptance as a desire for the performing arts and stage, I couldn’t hide the fact I was still a little odd-ball. Being a sensitive child who showed vulnerability and reacted to said bullying, oh man, I was Christmas, New Years and Hanukah all in one convenient package for a kid with a chip on his or her shoulder! It was like I wore a florescent sign on my head that constantly flashed “if poked, will cry!” and boy did they poke this bear.

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As a kid I was told I was too sensitive, a “drama queen”, or an attention-seeker on a daily basis, both by other children and teachers. I incessantly heard that others felt they were “walking on eggshells around me”. That’s always been a comment that has bothered me. As a kid with limited processing resources (shit, as an adult with limited resources!), all I heard was “your reaction to this event is over-the-top and therefore wrong”. This is a really scary feeling as a child because all we have to process the world is what we are taught and what we feel. But, no one is really taught feelings (or if they are, I missed that class). So there I was, already upset about said ‘event’ (lets say someone threw an orange rind at my head and I felt picked on), but then I start to cry or yell at the perpetrator and I’m told to “get over it” because it’s just an orange rind and I’m “overreacting”. But wait, now I’m confused because to me this reaction feels totally justified!? So now I am doubly upset because not only was I upset about feeling targeted but I’ve just been told that my feelings are wrong. Only now I can’t let it show that I’m upset or stand up for myself, because I’ve just learned that those feelings are invalid. So I end up suppressing my humiliation and confusion until it is no longer possible and it blows up in the next persons face who does or says something slightly off colour to me, causing the cycle to continue. She was not fragile like a flower; she was fragile like a bomb.As a child it is frustrating. As an adult it feels like gas-lighting. But as a bonifide mental person it causes either and implosion or explosion of emotions as I attempt to figure out how to react. What is a “normal” response to this? What is justified? Will I end up gas-lighting myself and allow myself to be walked over for fear of a disproportionate reaction? Oops, decisions times up, BLAM!!! This process essentially repeated itself for the next 20 years to varying degrees of intensity, until I became the all-too cliché substance-abusing, in-and-out of psych wards, unemployed, pushing-30 and perpetually-single (but still highly attractive in that Angelina-Jolie-in-Girl-Interrupted-type-way), gal you see before you! C’mon fellas! Put a baby in me!

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Basically, this very basic example taught me that I ‘lifed’ wrong. That I was wrong. It meant that for the rest of my life I would never feel like I “fit in” which would flip/flop me between feelings of grandeur, like I was the fucking Queen of England…but like, a young, hot version! Or, I would feel like a worthless, hopeless, useless piece of hideous, gutter trash. I was never just, simply fine. To this day I still struggle with this. It has gotten better, but it will always be work because I will always be work. There will never be a time I am not in some form of therapy and working on myself. If that day comes I better be Ghandi-meditating-in-a-cave-in-the-Himalayas-level tranquil because the only other option would be that I would have given up and the reality of that is far to real for many people living with BPD (and other mental illness).

Wallpaper PSYCHO | Galaxy Gran PrimeI recently learned that 70% of people with BPD will attempt suicide at least once in their lifetime and 10% will be successful. What the actual fuck?! I know cancer patients that have better odds than that! The stats for bipolar are similar and if you have more than one mental illness the percentage significantly jumps up again. I believe suicide is such an issue, not only because the condition itself can make average, daily encounters unbearable but also due to misdiagnosis. Most people are diagnosed in their 20’s, meaning they have had at least two decades of deeply rooting in poor coping mechanisms and habits before they can even attempt to heal, which itself is a slow and arduous (some will argue impossible) task. Doctors and Psycho’s alike have usually labelled us with a number of other disorders throughout our youth, like anxiety to explain our intense neediness, depression to understand our insatiable loneliness, and/or bipolar to make sense of our rapidly fluctuating and unregulated mood swings. No wonder all my ex’s individually came up with the descriptor “rollercoaster” for me! And there I thought it was because I was such a fun ride! *wink* Heyyyowwww!

im lost please dont find me

Personally, I have experienced suicidal ideation for months and years at a time. If you haven’t, I am unbelievably relieved for you and if you have, from the bottom of my heart I’m sorry and I am here for you (I mean that, hit me up if you feel alone). It is nothing short of torture. I recently saw one of my doctors and she was so pleased to see how well I was doing because less than 2-months ago I was done. Out! I was about to call the loony bin to check me right back in and give me a vegetive-state-enducing lobotomy! I have worked really hard on myself in that time but even I am surprised by the progress this time around. Today, I can honestly say I feel better than I have in years, both mentally and in regards to the chronic pain and fatigue conditions I live with (which have a cyclic effect on my mental health too). However, I know how quickly things can change. I know how quickly I can be triggered into a reaction that could take me right back to square one.
pinterest: @astheticprints✌︎☾I’m not going to tackle the debate about whether or not suicide is selfish or justified. Not today anyway. I have very alternative views on suicide (and selfishness too actually) and I think I’ve opened enough room for debate in this blog already! Nevertheless, I will say this. Two years ago my mum came into my room after hearing me whaling in agony. These screams were guttural, coming from the deepest pit of my stomach. I have never felt so much pain in my life. The 9-hour, full spinal resection I endured a few years earlier would have been a relief. No word of a lie. This whaling was not a once off. This was every. single. day. for an entire year and I had well and truly surpassed my breaking point. The thread I had been holding on by was long gone. I had lost (to death or perceived abandonment) so many people in such a short amount of time and I was completely and utterly heartbroken. Maybe it’s because of my wavering mental health that I felt it so intensely, I’ll never know, but I have been through cancer, the spinal surgery, addiction recovery/relapse, anorexia, rape, chronic pain and so much mental health bullshit I should have my very own Dr. Phil on speed dial; but heartbreak is the most excruciatingly painful experience I have ever been through.

 ✨ "yσυ dσи'т нαvє тσ รαy 'i lσvє yσυ' тσ รαy i lσvє yσυ." ✨Mum sat quietly at the end of my bed as I looked up at her from behind red, puffy eyes, exhausted from tears, and I begged her to let me die. I was calm now. I explained it all; how it would benefit the family and free me, how I was in such excruciating pain. How I could physically feel my heart tearing apart and my stomach sickly squirming and clenching without a second of respite. How deeply angry I was and how I felt it was cruel to keep me alive when I was in such all consuming agony. Honestly, if I had been a cancer patient I would have been on life support. I was terminal. I can’t imagine what it felt like as a mother to watch the child you brought into the world suffer in that way and be ungrateful for ‘the gift of life’.
Let it be known that my mum is one strong-ass Queen to be mother flipping reckoned with!

First Dance.In her desperation she said the one thing that she knew would work when nothing else would, when not even a mothers’ love was enough, you will destroy your brother.”. What was left of my heart dropped to the floor because I knew she was right. We’d just lost our dad. My brother and I had been best friends our entire lives.
One would not survive without the other. As much as she wanted to, mum wasn’t able to fix my pain but she provided, what mums do best, a little guilt trip (omg JK! Not the time? :/ ), that lasted just long enough to keep me alive and those few words have helped me many times since. I won’t lie, I still fall into extreme depression at times but the decision is made now and there is no going back. I will never commit suicide. As bad as I may get, I will drag myself kicking and screaming to therapists and psycho’s, psych-wards and hospitals. I will allow myself to stay in bed for days and weeks at a time and exist solely on cereal and peanut butter if that is the only way I can work on my number one priority, survival. I will do whatever it takes to continue to find the tiniest little spark of hope inside that has helped me remember myself in the past and launch it into a blazing fire, because I have no other choice. I only have my mum and my bro left and let’s face it, they would be completely lost without me (or at least really fucking bored!)! I may be a nutcase, but I’m sure as hell fun! 

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*Loss – Referring to loss through both death and relationship breakdowns. To a person with BPD both are perceived as abandonment.

Suicidality in Borderline Personality Disorder – This is a really simple and clear article I found about suicide ideation in BPD for anyone who wants to learn more.

Suicide Helpline – Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14

The Cancer Chronicles: Part 2

NOTE: For this to make sense please first read The Cancer Chronicles: Part 1 here.

the print on my bedroom door (by silvia pelissera - agnes-cecile)
Of all the differences my father and I had, we shared two important things in common; we were both undiagnosed bipolar for most of our lives, and our destructive/obsessive tendencies were idealised as passion and determination. This meant that as an intensely and often irrationally anxious child my fear of failure was fostered and admired, eventually letting it overrule and guide my every move. Sure, this had some positive influence in my life; while all the other high school kids were smoking cigarettes behind the soccer oval, I refused to take a puff for fear of damaging my oh-so-precious voice that was certain to make me millions one day! Mean Girls.By the age of twelve I had already decided I was going to be a superstar, just like Charlotte Church or Britney Spears (clearly prior to their subsequent meltdowns which, ironically, ended up likening much more to my life story after all…). I couldn’t see the value in risking what I believed was my destiny for something as trivial as looking cool. Besides, I would have plenty of time for that when I was selling out arenas world-wide! Of course, as the slightly overweight, boofy-haired, choir dork that I was, I never had to worry too much about my coolness factor getting out of control. On the other hand however, that obsessive drive that constantly simmered inside me, provided me with the “strength” (crippling anxiety) that led to a fierce battle with anorexia. Tell me one more time how it’s a shame because I have such a “pretty face” and I’ll show you another meal I replaced with a Berocca or sugar-free gum (damn, adults can be c*nts)! All this to say that I had a goal (fame, fortune and admiration… obvs) and I was willing to do whatever it took to achieve that. Even proudly starve myself to the bone.

I was well aware of my addictive tendencies growing up. I’d make silent pacts with myself not to get tattoos, or smoke, and plastic surgery was out for fear of winding up looking like a Real Housewife before they really figured out the secret to good lip filler (no disrespect Lisa Rina, you know I love you)! I remember trying speed for the first time and thinking “Holy fucking, fuck-tits batman!”, (or something to that avail). I loved it so much that I instantly vowed never to touch that beautiful nose candy ever again. I knew there were only so many times I would be able to say no before I would never say no again. Suffice to say, I had a thorough life plan mapped out and being a cancer-ridden junkie was not part of it. Jokes on me I guess…

미르자 @mirzhnaniaaaI was practical with my diagnosis. I never asked “why me?”. I had no time for a pity party. I just wanted to move forward so I could claim my life back and get back on track with the immaculately detailed ‘life plan’ I’d been working on since I was 5. As I saw it, I had already wasted enough time from pain to diagnosis. Now I had to spend another 18-months on the drug trial before I could even think about having the surgery and finally begin the lengthy recovery process. When was I supposed to achieve world domination? A girls got shit to do, damnit! I wasn’t allowed to work anymore as it was too risky for my health, but all I could hear in my head was the incessant tick-tick-tick of time passing me by. I’d gone from working 4 jobs like an ADD kid off his Ritalin, to watching reality T.V. for 9-hours a day. I was loosing the fucking plot.

I desperately tried to tell myself that this was some kind of test to help me slow down and learn to smell those bloody roses enlightened people are always on about. But, in my mind I had been late for “success” since my sixteenth birthday so every second that wasn’t utilised felt like a failure. @allisonnickel2Why sixteen you may well ask? Sixteen is nothing more than an arbitrary number I plucked out of my arse as a kid, when I obnoxiously declared to my father that that would be the age I would achieve the afore mentioned superstardom and/or world domination (either was fine, I wasn’t picky). I stored his bemused smirk in the ‘I’ll-show-you’ compartment of my brain and let it fuel the fire in my pre-teen gut. Because that’s what I needed, more reason to kick my own arse! So at 21, already 5 years late to my utterly delusional and completely imagined concept of success, I was essentially in a constant spiral of rage-jealousy and/or depressive-failure. Here’s a tip kids; have low expectations. Seriously. Can we please stop teaching children that if they work hard they can achieve anything, like we’re fucking accolade cheerleaders? It encourages perfectionist behaviour, cultivates a fear of failure, builds pressure/anxiety and it’s simply not true. In my humblest of opinion…

Vertebrae bones A3 poster anatomical art Human anatomy by PRRINTAlthough a habit I still struggle with today; those reality T.V. marathons did teach me something. When I wasn’t watching Heidi and Spencer (Speidi; for the die hards) on The Hills, I was addicted to Celebrity Rehab with Doctor Drew (I believe they call that irony…). To this day, still one of the greatest shows of its time; not to be outdone by Sex Rehab with Doctor Drew or the classic spin off, Sober House. Ahh, they were simpler times! What I learned by watching Grease’s Kenickie go through his tragic and ultimately fatal battle with opiate addiction on Celebrity Rehab, is such; spinal surgery is dangerous and excruciating, pain killers are addictive and sexy pilates instructors can make you feel better momentarily, but ultimately you will die a slow and agonising death. Shit. With this in mind I went to my next appointment at the cancer clinic armed with questions.

미르자 @mirzhnaniaaaI sat in a sterile room with my father and the head of my clinical trial, who essentially was my dad, 20 years and 30kgs ago. These two autistic nerds talked excitedly to one another about the wonders of modern medicine while I sat there, doing my best imitation of a slightly animated test tube with stuck-on googly eyes. I was worried. I thought back to that first line of speed and simultaneously felt a pang of fear and excitement, which rang danger alarms in my head. I was young but there are parts of me I knew better then than I do today, or at least used to listen to. I just knew if anyone was going to get hooked on pain pills it would be me. I didn’t have time to waste getting wasted! What about my goals? My plans! What’s that saying? ‘We make plans and God laughs’. Years on and “God” is still pissing herself laughing like a mum of triplets in a Zumba class at me! Bitch.

VALLEY OF THE DOLLS PILL POPPING NAILS BEAUTY SHOOT | Jamie Nelson Beauty & Fashion Photographer | September 4, 2015  ❤༻ಌOphelia Ryan ಌ༺❤When the nerd-lingers (or the super-important-men-who-were-actually-saving-my-life) finally remembered there was an actual living, breathing patient in the room, I had the opportunity to ask how most people fair coming off the post-operative drugs, namely the opiates (oxy’s). I was swiftly assured that as I start to heal and feel better I will simply not need them anymore and will naturally wean off. Simple. Natural. Easy… I internally groaned and externally rolled my eyes, knowing that wouldn’t be me and instead I was much more likely to be another fucking Kenickie; wheelchair bound and screaming at nurses in a rehab facility by 50 (flash forward 6 years; turns out I’m way more efficient than Keni and would be found doing this by age 27, never to be outdone). I couldn’t bring myself to push the subject in front of my dad, who innocently suspected I was a majestic earth-bound angel, who radiated purity and bliss. And although he wasn’t too far off, I wasn’t about to shatter his illusion, so I shut my mouth and never mentioned it again.
 By this stage I was starting to get angry at the world. My friends were all at the stage of their lives where they were graduating from their degrees and entering the work-force for their first real adult jobs. Their biggest concerns being where to have Saturday night drinks and if their new colleagues would like them. And then there was me; unable to work, isolated, bored to literal insanity, suffering intense pain and pumped with experimental chemo and pre-surgical pain killers. Not to mention the typical angst an early 20-something feels anyway as they try to spread their wings for the first time to leave the nest, only in my case, them wings done broke! This is where Schmoo and I really leaned on each other. We were two young, fierce and fabulous gals about town who, at this stage, still looked “normal” AKA healthy. We could still function relatively independently and our main disability was everyone else’s inability to understand what we were going through!

Schmoo was always a vison. Just to sit down at our local soup joint she was always dressed like an off-duty supermodel in understated designer clothes, immaculate jewellery and smelling like something I definitely couldn’t afford. I’d sit there in my no-name, see-through leggings that I’d been wearing since I was 14 and she’d just laugh with that whole-body cackle that was signature Schmoo, as she called me a pauper and paid for my coffee. Occasionally she’d let me pay, just to make me feel like the baller I certainly wasn’t. It was appreciated.

 

Every week we would get together and bitch about how our families couldn’t possibly understand us and our friends were so lucky they didn’t have cancer, and basically just vent about the shit-storm that was our lives! love, grunge and sad image on We Heart ItAnd in doing this, we laughed, a lot. These conversations were some of the most cathartic and hilarious of my life. Of course nobody could relate to us! Who the fuck gets cancer in their early twenties and ends up making besties with another cancer-kid?! Nobody, that’s who! We knew that, but we were each others’ outlet. A safe place to release our pain, frustration and vent about everyone and everything that pissed us off. Our socially inept doctors, our mountains of medication that made us rattle when we walked, our isolation and loneliness, our stupid boyfriends who were trying so hard and yet failing so spectacularly, our friends and their “trivial” problems which, in reality, were completely justified but let’s face it, cancer’s hard to beat! Together we would laugh about all the mother-fuckery that had become these lives that we no longer recognised, and in that we found some relief. I can’t imagine going through this experience without my Schmoo. We were two extremely unfortunate kids who found some hope in each other and in that, we were lucky.

you literally make me a mess and i hate it... i lied it's the best thing that's ever happened to me❤️

There used to be this homeless man who would occasionally walk past our soup bar and stop for a chat. Nice guy, if a little kooky. One day he sat down with Schmoo and I and started telling our fortune. He told me I hadn’t yet met the man of my dreams and that Schmoo would live into her 90’s. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case but I believe it gave her enough hope to keep “fighting” a little longer. He spouted a lot of insane shit for about an hour and although we suspected it was 99.9% bullshit we tipped him generously for his entertainment and kind distraction. I hate that word fighting. Like all it takes to beat cancer is brute strength! I’m telling you, if that’s all it took Schmoo would’ve had me beat 100 times over. Nobody fought as hard as she did. Nobody loved life as much as she did! She was just hungry for every experience she could sink her teeth into. I admired that in her so much and I desperately craved that in myself. The girl had 5 brain surgeries over 4 years, spent a year as her own nurse attached to an IV bag that constantly dripped chemo into her veins, had her skull literally fucking cave in on her and was still able to meet and marry the love of her life. That’s right, while she was travelling the world for all the most cutting edge medical treatments available (oh, did I not mention that? Yeah…that too), she was also planning her spectacular dream wedding at the same time! She. Was. Unstoppable. I on the other hand spent most of that time in the foetal position, moaning and discovering how to shovel oxy up my nose. Each to their own I guess!

Survivors guilt is a real thing. I generally find existence extremely difficult. I’ve got a brain with a few faulty wires that prevents me from regulating my emotions, so I’m basically a constantly swinging pendulum, my body is the Queen of the malfunction and I live in a fairly perpetual state of existential crisis. Yeah, I’m a blast! I can’t tell you how may times I looked at my Schmoo and wished we could trade places. Give me the terminal brain tumour and let her live the fabulous, travel, adventurous, wildly sexy, exotic foodie, life that she would have lapped up! But it wasn’t the case. I don’t know if I believe in meant-to-be’s and what not but I do know that if Schmoo was in my position, if she had been the one to survive, that she wouldn’t waste her second chance pissing around like a depressive little twat. What she would do is exactly this. She would write. She would write about her exeriences great and small and rather than be egotistically driven for world domination and fleeting Lindsey-Lohan style fame, she would want to make an impact. She would want to place her stamp on the world for something meaningful. So… here’s me doing just that*!

* Originally I wrote “Here’s me trying” but I instantly heard the Schmoo in my head saying “Trying!? There’s no such thing as trying! Just do it girl!”. She didn’t do anything by halves and wouldn’t accept it from anyone else. She was the most inspiring person I’ve ever met and I’m lucky that I have her voice in my head everyday, continuing to push me, encourage me and elevate me to have the best life imaginable.

Love you Schmoo and so much love to the Schmoo Clan, both family and friends.

 

 

The Cancer Chronicles; Part 1

Melody Ehsani Shop Neon Sign (Fairfax District)
At 20-years-old, I fell in love with a boy. Very early into our relationship we learned that his gorgeous mother had developed a tumour in her brain which, within only several months, would take her life. Prior to this experience the concept of death was relatively abstract to me. I’d lost pets, distant relatives and was a complete mess when Mufasa died in the Lion King (spoiler alert). At that age I’d never watched anyone deteriorate in front of my eyes, or held someone’s hand as they breathed the words, “hopefully tomorrow…” when praying for their own death. I’d never watched someone I love, completely tortured by helplessness for a dying parent, friend or child. These days however, I can’t say the same. I have been heavily exposed to loss and even had to process the concept of my own mortality several times throughout my 29 years. Even several months before my dad passed away he told me that I’d seen more death and illness than anyone he knew. So much so, that I labelled 2016 ‘The year of 1000 deaths!’ and was convinced that I’d somehow been cursed by an evil witch to turn everything I touched into dead. Worst. Superpower. EVER!

5,474 "Μου αρέσει!", 34 σχόλια - Psychedelic and Visionary Art (@psychedelic.paint) στο Instagram: "“I said, Goddamn!! ✨✨✨ . . Art by @mohamedsobeha #psychedelic #psychedelicart #marijuana #art…"

I’ve been through the stages of healing into a “survivor” and subsequently crumbling back into bitterness so many times that I don’t even know where I stand anymore. I drift somewhere between grief and growth with occasional drunken rage black-outs where I desperately want to stab someone in the eye with a fork. I don’t know much of anything, but one thing I have learned is that grief is not linear and reactions are so individual they often appear nonsensical or unrelated to “real life”. I think we have this image that when you go through something major that you will just wake up more highly evolved than you were before. But in fact it tends to be a more agonising, chipping away at your heart and soul until you either develop a thick skin to survive, or if you’re me, develop a pretty intense addiction problem and file life in the too-hard-basket of your brain for several years! However, at 20, I still had the blissful ignorance of youth on my side which made this primary experience with death extremely overwhelming and confronting.

COLLAGE CON SUPERPOSICIÓN DE TEXTURAS (no es por la obviedad en la foto)

Simultaneously, as I was learning of the fragility of life and the rapid transition from health to illness and illness to death; I began to develop quite sever, chronic and acute back pain. I’d been teaching yoga for a couple of years at this point and assumed I had contorted myself into a pretzel one too many times and badly pulled a muscle. But after months of crying in agony for my mumma and seeing every specialist under the sun, my GP decided it was time to investigate further and get some scans done. As I lay in the CT machine for the first time with an IV of dye being pumped into my arm, the lab technician leaned over me and delicately said, “Now, don’t panic but…” (always a great way to stop someone from panicking), “…there is a chemical in the dye that’s going to make you feel like you’ve wet yourself. You won’t, but you will reeeaaally feel like you have.” (Brain to self – wot dis bitch say?!”). I’ll let you use your imagination for how that all played out. Fucking dye.

Control Your Tongue by LiL-CaRzY-BiZzO

The pain was unbearable and had been going on for almost 6-months by the time I was finally sitting in front of a solemn-faced doctor. I had been through pretty much every possible scenario in my head, so I thought I was prepared for what he was about to tell me. I was just desperate for an answer by this stage. Unfortunately, that answer was cancer. Only months earlier we had buried my boyfriends’ mum and now here we were, staring down the barrel of the gun again.

My doctor talked at me as I entered that state people go to in movies when they receive bad news. You know the one; there’s that loud, high-pitched ringing in your ears, your sight fades into tunnel vision, your freezing but covered in sweat, it’s like there’s a bowling ball in my stomach and a desert in my mouth (okay, now I’m just quoting Tori Amos). From what I pieced together from subsequent conversations, I had an extremely rare form of spinal tumour. Seriously, trust me to just need to be different! Even with cancer I’m extra.

humourAs a creative and arguably interesting woman it is so indescribably frustrating when something you literally have zero control over becomes the most fascinating thing about you. I mean really, if I’m going to be getting any attention at all it better be for my witty intellect… and dis sweet ass (obvs)! While I’m up here on my soap box, let’s look at the word “inspirational”. I always struggled with being called this during my cancer “journey” for lack of a better word (kindly punch me in the face with a thesaurus next time you see me). Of course it’s always nice to be described as inspirational, but it’s a strange compliment to receive for being sick. If it was for my writing or my music, or someone took one of my yoga classes and suddenly burst through this most basic evolutionary plane into enlightenment, then by all means! Feel encouraged to feed my ego with #inspo posts. But… I literally did nothing. In fact, I did less than nothing, I malfunctioned resulting in cancer. I wasn’t even strong enough to be a martyr about it! I complained about it…a lot. I was a massive jerk for years because I was in agony and I was scared. There was nothing inspiring about how I handled cancer.

⚠️follow me: ☞ bbgxloni☜⚠️So my super unique, inspirational tumour had eaten away an entire vertebra in my thoracic spine (T6 for any anatomy nerds out there), as well as a corresponding rib. I was told that the tumour was rapidly growing and had the consistency of jelly, which put me in a very dangerous position. As my surgeon so delicately put it, if you can imagine your spine like a carrot… If something were to cause a sever enough jolt, like you have a fall or get into a car accident, your spine could quite easily snap in two as there’s nothing holding it together in the middle.”. Little did he know that I had a history of being the worlds shittest driver so this was all too real for me! (Cue jaw drop and audible blinking). Cheers for that super cute visual doc! Much love. Fortunately for me, I grew up with a father who was on the Asperger’s spectrum, meaning I wasn’t overly disgruntled by my surgeons’ surprising bedside manner and in fact, it reassured me somewhat. Surely someone with such awful people skills must be a genius…right? Well, he couldn’t in all good conscience have someone walking around with a carrot for a spine, so as soon as I got the news the tumour existed, I was scheduled in for surgery the very next day. That’s when I knew it was bad. They (my team of doctors who suddenly existed), wanted to rush me into a 9-hour surgery in less than 12-hours time, with one of the best spinal surgeons in the country. I was like the Beyoncé of cancer. Bow down bitches!

Very cool pic

That evening my father received a call from yet anther member of my entourage… I mean medical team.  They were worried about the surgery. No shit?! Apparently, because of the soft, jelly-like consistency of my tumour (I know, super ew), it was more than likely that no matter how well the surgery was performed that even a single cell left behind would result it the recurrence of the cancer and if/when that happened any subsequent surgery would be impossible due to the sever amount of metal and scar tissue my back would now contain. This was when I was told that if I did not have the tumour removed it would continue to grow, put pressure on my spinal cord and eventually paralyse me. However, in a fun turn of events, the surgery itself could also result in paralysis. FML.

perception phenomenon completion – we reconstruct the hidden | the attention of the unusalThey decided not to chop me open in a flurry the next morning and instead we had a chat to yet another super-important-doctor-man. This led to my inclusion in an 18-month clinical trial at the Peter Mac Cancer Clinic. The idea being that the trial drug would calcify my tumour making it hard and therefore simpler to remove. Easier to remove means less chance of cells left behind and a decrease in my chance of recurrence. These appointments were long, boring and both emotionally and physically painful. Going to a cancer clinic is, in a word, urrrghhh*hgh$s@g#*^k! There is nowhere in my life I have felt less like a person and more like a patient. Not even an important patient. You’re seen as a dying patient that has been given up on. I wasn’t even dying man! I was 21, with a bone tumour that could paralyse, but not kill me… therefore I was one of the lucky ones. Yeah, this place was grim.

 Cancer patients can be real ball breakers. We can be really fucking demanding and why shouldn’t we be? We are all in pain, many of us dying or fighting not too and not to mention, we’re bloody terrified. Yet, in these settings we are so often overlooked or ignored by people who are overworked and underpaid. I get it. It must be necessary to detach to some degree if you are seeing the walking dead on the daily, and we are not generally coming into the clinic a ball of laughs! We are exhausted to the bone and tired of being poked and prodded within an inch of our lives, forced to give blood from veins that have been bled dry and arms that are painfully bruised. On top of that, there is an expectation of gratitude for the care we are receiving. Don’t get me wrong, I was treated by some wonderful practitioners and nurses, but a kind grin is limited in how much it can help when the majority of your sterile surroundings make you feel like a numbered petri dish in a science experiment. Which is essentially what I was as part of the trial.

I didn’t have traditional chemotherapy. Again, I was “lucky” because the chemo I was given wasn’t given intravenously. It was an extra special mix made just for me that they didn’t make until I’d arrived at the clinic. Sounds exciting but this just meant I was usually waiting at least 4-hours to be aggressively stabbed in the belly with a syringe and sent on my way. It was simple. It was sad. I was told there were no side effects. Hazzah! I later found out that this didn’t mean that there were technically no side effects, it actually meant that because it was a clinical trial, that the side effects were yet unknown. It would be several years before I stopped receiving letters about newly discovered issues caused by the drug. Here’s a cute example; they found if you received dental work while the drug remained in your system that your jaw bone was likely to rot away. Yum. Or how about when they told me that if I was to get pregnant during the trial that my baby would develop without bones. That’s right, just a ball of flesh and organs. True story.

Pensar colorido cartel de cerebro arte anatómico cerebro

During the 18-months I was on the drug trial I attended a kind of cult-like cancer healing retreat. Yeah, it was as fun as it sounds… Just me, a raw-vegan-sugar/gluten/caffine/happiness-free diet and 50 other desperate and dying cancer patients clinging onto a speck of hope. This was one of the strangest experiences of my life and naturally extremely confrontational (I now know what I would do if I had 3-months to live, so that’s…yeah). But in the midst of all the tragic stories, group fear, hours of meditation to reflect on said fear and depressingly tasteless food… I met Schmoomy.

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The Schmoo was the most hilarious, incredibly insane, magnetic and vivacious girl I’ve ever had the honour of getting to know. We were the two youngest people attending Cult Cancer by at least 20-years and as such, we clung to each other for dear life. We ended up spending practically every day together for the next several years. She was the Kim to my Kanye, the Thelma to my Louise, The Schmoomy to my Schmoo-monkey! We were inseparable. She may have had an aggressive brain tumour that made her hallucinate small children and my spine was eating itself from the inside out, but together we laughed so hard our bellies hurt, smoked so much weed Snoop Dog (Lion?) would be jealous and generally just took on the mother fucking world!

Illustration-ilustraciónI loved her like a sister from the second I met her but I knew I was on borrowed time. Everyone around her was living on hope but I’d seen this play out with my boyfriends’ mum. I knew how this story ended and it scared the shit out of me. But that little fucker was just so damn lovable that I decided whatever time I got to spend with her was a bloody gift that I wasn’t about to waste, and I’m so grateful I did, because without an ounce of exaggeration, she taught me how to love myself and changed my life forever. There are not enough words in the human language to adequately describe how important this girl was, and still is, to me. But I will do my very best to honour her memory in the next instalment.

To be continued…

 

In loving memory of Shmoomy & R.S.