The Dreaded Breakfast

Should I maybe stop telling this story now? I’m afraid you might get bored. Then again I think that perhaps I should tell it anyway because what if this sort of thing is a little bit normal, even if I don’t feel all that normal. So what if it’s normal, or at least not uncommon, and someone else is sitting out there thinking I don’t know how to feel better and maybe just maybe my potentially humiliating revelation might make them think “oh I didn’t know I could try that”. And also, a friend suggested to me the other day that I might consider de-worming the whole family as a possible solution to my malaise, and it was most certainly something I hadn’t even remotely considered so sometimes opening up the conversation leads to all sorts of viewpoints that you would never reach on your own.

Anyway if you get bored you don’t have to keep reading.

My biggest problem was breakfast. I already kind of knew this, but I HATE eating breakfast (unless I’m in a hotel and breakfast is an event and I’ve already been up for two hours not eating breakfast) and there is this personal trainer healthy lady in town who advocates skipping breakfast and I’d  read somewhere that fasting from suppertime until lunch time is a thing that is acceptable to do and I thought ok breakfast works for others but not for me so I’m just not going to do it. The really strong healthy lady says you should do it and so do these random websites I found through Google so like really my breakfast skipping is just tailored to my breakfast-hating personality. It’s ok to be me. Because maybe everyone is different, right?

Yeah…no… (more…)

Searching For Solutions

I know it’s probably not best to diagnose yourself. We’re always telling each other not to do such things. Don’t Google your symptoms you’ll only conclude you’re dying… Or something like that. And the labels for mental health? Well those can be a bad plan too. I worry sometimes. Like what if I call myself depressed and then I use it as an excuse to eat ice cream all day? Funny how even when you know that’s not happening you still think of it as a possibility for yourself.

For me, learning about what might be happening to me – whether it be physically or mentally – is a way for me to cope. Understanding why is a big thing for me. Use logic. Put the puzzle pieces together. Have you been watching The Good Doctor? Well you know how he thinks about what could be the problem and then illustrations show you what’s in his head? It’s kind of like that. Except I don’t have Savant Syndrome. Which I’m a little bummed about if I’m honest.

Here are some of the things I used to “fix” myself:

*I think a special note should be made here that the reason I now have all of these things going into me is a credit to my husband. I fail at routine. Continuity. Time management. But every morning he puts these supplements by my bedside so that I don’t forget to take them. I would forget without him. I would be stuck in my hole without him.* (more…)

What to do when you’re falling apart…

This title is misleading. I certainly don’t assume to tell you what to do. I can tell you what I did to get through one of the lowest times in my life though. And why.

I didn’t want to go to a doctor when I was feeling my worst. This was for two main reasons:

1.) I wasn’t emotionally up to it

I get that this will have you shaking your head. There are things that you think I MUST do, no doubt. But I know myself. The stress of making a doctor’s appointment for myself would have pushed me over the edge at that time (I am right now in this moment ok with the thought, though it is far less necessary now than it was 8 months ago). (more…)

Bomb Proof Baby

I’m doing a terrible job of sharing my journey. It makes me giggle to think how many times I’ve been told “Oh you should write a book about your life” and I just smiled and nodded while thinking “glory no one wants to read that”. It occurs to my now that possibly I’m not capable of writing it anyway. I’m doing a terrible job of sharing this little section of my life. I shudder to think of the job I would do of a whole life. Hopefully I am better at fiction.

I keep telling you that last year my mental and physical health took a scary dip and then not really saying anything other than that. And yet what I kind of want to do is at least sort of explain what happened and the steps I took to fix the situation. Though I fully disclose that I am still very much a work in progress.

I don’t know if everyone else’s bodies work this way, but my health seems to very much be tied into my emotions. For instance, I absolutely cannot lose weight if I am unhappy. I will just gain and gain no matter what I do. Let me be happy though, and my new weightloss plan is seven pizzas and a glass of wine and look here you guys I lost ten kgs! Depression is an asshole like that.

Depression & Anxiety have been my shadows for pretty much my whole life. I always thought I was relatively ok at hiding it. I remember as a teen I once tried to confess my melancholy to a friend. “You’re not depressed are you?” she snarled at me, with a look of utter disgust on her face. I added being depressed to the list of things I do wrong and have pretty much never brought it up again until now.

These two shadows of mine infiltrated not only my mind health last year, but my physical health as well.

Anxiety, especially, decided to go into overdrive in about June last year. Depression I can kind of live with. But Anxiety? She’s a bitch, man. That Cow has been telling me for my whole life how everything about me is wrong. And let me tell you the things that other people do/say is used as evidence of your incompetence when Anxiety is your friend. Nadine is too this too that. Too loud. Too shrill. Too excited. Too intense. Too too too too too. You’re all wrong, whispers Anxiety, and everything is about to go wrong. Good luck with that…

Before last year the last time I had a severe panic attack (meltdown) what the day before Noah was born. There was a period of about three months last year when I was having panic attacks maybe once a week. And the worst part is that a lot of them were happening in my sleep.

I have never felt more hopeless or ridiculous in my life.

You see, when you’re conscious and something sets you off you can kind of grasp that. Like ok I’m really upset right now because xyz happened and I might be overreacting just a smidge but I can’t seem to stop myself and that’s fine we’ll ride this meltdown out and it will be ok. And even if you’re melting down for no reason at all, you can still say to yourself ok you seem to be panicking for no reason your body is just reacting to something that’s not physically there but that’s ok we’ll ride it out you’re still ok.

But when it’s happening in your sleep. Bloody hell it makes you feel stupid. You wake up in full blown panic mode out of nowhere. How do you talk yourself down from there? I’d say “it was just a dream” but waking up from a bad dream and waking up because your heart is about to leap out of your chest are two very different things. At least in my experience. So what do you do? You (I) just feel stupid…

And then there was the matter of the frights. When someone could make me flinch just by talking to me when I didn’t expect it. When gunshots on TV would cause my skin to shrink. When Noah could touch me gently on the arm and my whole body would jump.

Everything gives me a fright.

This is pathetic.

Obviously something would have to change…

There were other things, of course. Niggles in my body. Things that had started to become unbearable. But none of them like panic originating in the depths of my subconscious. This one I could not tolerate. This one I could not shrug off with a small laugh at my ridiculous self. No. This bully living somewhere in the in my forgotten dreams would have to go. And it would have to go very quickly.

And so I started taking steps to make myself a little more bomb proof.

A Different State of Mind

Last year when I decided to split my blog into two separate blogs it was with the intention of keeping my travel musings (a mostly happy space) separate from my more personal musings, which have a tendency to become a little political. This space is more the writer’s space, though as of yet I haven’t shared much writing that isn’t in the form of a diary entry. I do hope to change that. I have, in the meantime, tried to make peace with the fact that I’m not a writer so much as a writer-in-limbo at the moment. I have sort of put my writing fantasies on pause while I raise and homeschool my family. Sometimes it can be a little tough because I feel like I’m not entirely suited to this task. But it’s ok.

The point is, I suppose, that when I split my blogs I had it in my head that this would probably end up being a space where I vent my (probably political) frustrations and share some benign triumphs (as I have done in the past) with the odd bit of poetry or photography thrown in for funsies. What I didn’t expect was that it might become a space where I started to get very personal. It seems though that my instincts are pulling me in that direction.

I feel like I keep emphasising this to the point of becoming annoying, but after an exceptionally hard year of fighting with my own mind I can see I am becoming more willing to open up about personal demons that I face on the constant. I suppose the reason for this is catharsis on the one hand, but on the other hand it is that there is also value for others in being honest about experiences. I learned in the last year that being open about what you’re struggling with is in itself a help. It also allows others to at least try to understand where you are coming from. They won’t always hear you, but that’s on them.

Anyway that’s enough talking rubbish from me. Next week I’ll start telling you about how I used supplements to start propping my fading self back up again. Or maybe I’ll moan about Trump. Who even knows anymore?

 

The Neverending Suck of 2017

I had a nightmare last night about a broken friendship. Again. These dreams were the theme of my 2017, many of them culminating in panic attacks that happened in my sleep. There are few things that have made me feel quite so stupid as this. You can’t even reprimand yourself for panic attacks that happen while you are not conscious. At least when you are panicking while awake you can still sort of tell yourself “are you sure you’re not just being silly” and then breathe a bit or have some chocolate. I don’t know. Panic attacks while you sleep feel really bloody ridiculous.

Of course I’m kind of used to dreamy sleep. And even nightmare sleep is par-for-the-course when you’re me (another sports reference!) but over the last year it has been a bit extra intense. Too much dreaming can leave you exhausted and this lack of reprieve played a huge role in the downward spiral I experienced in both my mental as well as my physical health. For some reason, I had convinced myself that in 2018 these nightmares would stop being a problem. This year is supposed to be better. So far it’s not co-operating but I’m hopeful.

I haven’t watched the first season of Grey’s Anatomy in a really long time, but I think it was there that someone (possibly McDreamy) had a policy of allowing themselves to panic, for five seconds only. And then after the five seconds were up, they would get on with it. I always loved that. Yes, panic. But then stop.

2017 was supposed to be my five seconds. I panicked for 2017. And in 2018 it was supposed to stop.

Of course real life doesn’t work like that. Real life doesn’t observe the clock striking midnight and imbue magic to the act. Real life doesn’t care that you’re only allowed five seconds. It takes a whole bunch of bad-assery to force life to conform to our own timelines. I know there is nothing rational about giving healing a time limit. Still I feel a little betrayed by this silly body of mine. It needs to stop now. The heart palpitations that come out of nowhere need to stop. The seemingly insurmountable fear that likes to sneak up and try to drown me needs to stop.

I am done with all this suck. So I’m trying to put the five seconds behind me and just get on with it.

I Need You to Love Me when I Hate Myself

I’ve just spotted a Facebook ad for a meditation centre which I then clicked on out of curiosity. In my quest to alleviate some serious struggles with anxiety, which presently feel like the worst they’ve ever been (this may or may not be true – I admit to any bad patch feeling like “the worst it has ever been” – I’m just usually way less open about it) I have come to the conclusion that some or other meditation is necessary. This is because it is brought up quite a bit by folks who have shared similar struggles to mine. Which is obviously why targeted advertising is now showing me meditation adverts. That was a very arse-about-face way of explaining why I clicked on the link…

Anyway, meditation…

I’ve used some YouTube videos which have been helpful with the panic attacks that I have been failing to get under control over the last few months. In times of great heightened stress they have helped me. I have not implemented a general day-to-day mindfulness practice which is what I had in mind while perusing the page.

I scrolled down the page a bit and came to a part where it said “How can anyone love you if you don’t love yourself?”

Now of course I am intelligent enough to know that this is not the general attitude of meditation advocates. This is just something that someone using Facebook put on their business page because they thought it sounded cool.

But I have to ask: Why on earth is this a question that we are still posing to people? Is it because it kind of sounds good? Like it sounds like it’s some sort of profound wisdomous thing that someone ancient once said and now we must all adopt it as a core truth of human existence.

If loving myself is the currency with which I have to pay for the love I receive then you’re going to have to paint me fundamentally unlovable.

You don’t really get to love yourself when you pitch up on this planet and from the time you are capable of placing yourself within the context of others you feel like definitely you were put on the wrong planet by the n00b in the soul placement department. You don’t get to love yourself when the loudest and most repetitive question inside your head is what is wrong with me, a question which never gets answered no matter how many times you ask it of yourself. You don’t get to love yourself when almost every interaction with other people leaves you feeling humiliated and defeated, because even though you’re trying really hard you still keep getting this whole being a person thing wrong and you’re trying to concentrate really hard and remember all the things you’re supposed to do and not do but you just know that you missed the mark so many times and probably everyone is laughing at you. You don’t get to love yourself when it seems like every time you slip up and let your guard down, someone is right there to point fingers and call you on it. You’re too loud. Too enthusiastic. Too serious. Too this. Too that.

Too everything.

So please don’t tell me that my inability to love myself makes me unlovable. While I am quite aware that a certain affection for my own self is necessary to my wellbeing, I most certainly don’t need the pressure of feeling undeserving of love because of failure on my part to establish my own value.

Some of us wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those who loved us when we hated ourselves. Some of us would have our self-worth irreparably compromised were it not for souls kind enough to allow us to look at ourselves through their loving eyes for a moment. Some of us are kept alive by the love we know that people feel towards us even though we can’t feel it right now. 

So next time you decided to tell someone that they can’t expect anyone else to love them if they don’t love themselves, why don’t you rather shut up and love them just a little bit more? Because I don’t care how well-meaning your intentions are. That is violent language directed at floundering souls.

This ridiculous saying needs to die now.

How do you even decide on baby number two?

When Noah was about 3 months old we were driving to Sedgefield to visit his great-grandparents and I was happily chatting away to my sort-of mother-in-law about having a second baby. At the time I was convinced that the trauma of my pregnancy and prem birth would subside quickly (it didn’t) and that I’d be ready to produce a second child with a reasonable 2 year gap between them. Obviously, we needed to have two kids. Or four. As long as it wasn’t three! (I remained convinced at that time that an even number of family members was ideal)

“I hope we have another boy,” I said to my other mom. “We could call him Isaac. Don’t you think that’s a gorgeous name? Or Violet if it’s a girl.”

My (now) ex turned to me and with more scorn than I knew he was capable of and said “We’re not having another kid and anyway it would be my turn to choose a name.” (more…)

Dear Facebook Friend…

I met you years ago through your husband. I don’t know how I met him. It was because of The Poetry Project which I was playing with. Poetry meets photography. Two of my great loves. Two things I consistently feel are better served by other artists. Other writers. Others…

That doesn’t matter.

I don’t know how he found me. There are many Facebook Friends on my timeline who I cannot place. I don’t know how they got there. Some Facebook strangers inspire a shrug of indifference, perhaps a moment of confusion. Yourself and your husband inspire fondness though.

For years you have been a welcome presence on my timeline. Though I did not know you, I learned from you often. Your passions come through in the things you share. I believe that even as a stranger you made me a better person. You played that role. I’m sure you didn’t know that…

In the last month you switched over from stranger to saviour. A certainly more demanding role and one I doubt you asked for. In my darkest spaces you somehow managed to be a stable voice, a source of guidance that one that I might not have heeded had it come from anyone else. I cannot begin to express the magnitude of my relief. How do I say thank you for that?

I still marvel at how quickly and how efficiently you “fixed” me in my weakest moments. How you pulled me out of anxiety-fueled panic. You helped me! When I was desperate for it. And all I can give you in return is a bumbling blog post…

Thank you though. From the bottom of my heart. Because in moments when I was incapable of knowing how to be helped you showed me exactly what I needed. That alone fills me with a continuing calm. There is a small spark of hopefulness that wasn’t there before.

That is everything.

The Heartache of Friendship

I’m not a very good friend. It would be wrong to say that friendship baffles me, I suppose, but I certainly seem to get it wrong enough to lead me to wonder if I shouldn’t be questioning myself a little more often. I mentioned in my post about Odette Johaar’s photography that I had in the last year befriended a group of women whom I found quite good for my soul. They continue to be so daily. These lovely ladies tucked away in my phone, always ready to help at the touch of a whatsapp message, even though our real lives seldom collide. I adore them. They make me feel sane. Calm. And honestly? Loved. I am lucky to have them. It worries me, however, that I possibly feel safe in our friendship because our lives are not so intertwined. Perhaps it feels safe to me because we all live our separate lives, and then whatsapp wave to each other on occasion, tell each other how awesome we are, and then carry on with those lives. I can’t hurt you, and you can’t hurt me. Because there isn’t a secret rulebook of expectations that any of us are failing to abide by. The only rule is that we’re nice to each other. And being nice is easy because each member of the group is so easy to like.

My friendship track record in general, however, is something of a minefield of confusion and mistrust.  And then a couple of weeks ago something happened with a very good friend of mine that made me realise something about myself… (more…)