In the shadows it lurks

BlackDog

God…. it’s been so long since I felt the chase of this creature at my heels. That same old black dog. Seemingly ever present, it makes its existence known every now & then, as a reminder that it will remain by your side, as your turbulent companion, through the flow of this life. It springs to mind, the lyrics of a song I used to listen to growing up:

“I can feel it comin’ back again
Like a rollin’ thunder chasing the wind
Forces pullin’ from the center of the earth again
I can feel it.”  – Lightning Crashes, Live

Does it ever go away or just lay dormant in the shadows. Sitting…lurking…watching….waiting.  Waiting for that moment when you feel so worn down, or so energetically pulled in all directions that all it takes is that one moment. A lapse in time. That chance, when your guard is down or your energy bank so low, to attack.  To clamp it’s wretched, ill-tempered jaws around your weary heels. To lacerate the fabric of your every day happiness, your being, your peace of mind, to remind you that it will always be there by your side. The monkey on your back, or in this case your very own Black Dog.

For those that are unaware, it was Winston Churchill who first coined the phrase “black dog”, in reference to his very real & ongoing battle with depression.

I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand right back and if possible get a pillar between me and the train. I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.”  – Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

Churchill had been locked in a dance with his own mental health battles, at such length over his 90 years.  But those around him believe that as plagued as he was by such inner turmoils, it made him the person he was.  His achievements were fuelled by the positive AND the negative in his life.  He perhaps would not have had the drive, the insight, the experiences and the take on life he had, had it not been for this duality of happiness and sadness, to incite his existence.

The key, I believe, is to tune in & listen out for when that contemptible beast starts growling.  The all familiar stirrings which trigger unease in your mind. The little reminders you MUST TAKE NOTE OF, to alert you that you could be on the brink of another downward spiral. Once you can recognise those signs, you stand a chance of putting that beast on a leash before another onslaught of negativity and all the deplorable emotions that come attached to a downward spiral.

Now, what gets my goat on this whole thing, is just how unbiased & impartial this little f***tard (sorry…. I lack a better word right now) can be.  Yes, I can feel worn down with life as a Mum of 3 most times. Yes, I have bills & debts to stay on top of.  No, I am not a jaw-dropping domestic goddess. Yes, I stay up to midnight some nights during the work week trying to enjoy some down time and silence with my phenomenally amazing & loving partner, and yes I may not be as active as I should be right now….but really, those are the only “lows” in my life atm.   Which as you can see, aren’t really lows at all (HUZZAH!!!!).

So lets flip this around, apart from the very minimal (if at all) negatives mentioned above, nothing is going wrong in my life.  In fact, everything is going so RIGHT, why has the mutt reared its ugly head? I not only have 3 of the worlds coolest and most down to earth children, who make me so damn proud every day to be a Mother & give me a reason to strive and believe in myself.  They give me purpose. They love me unconditionally and have infinite love for me as much as I do them. And this extends to my family and family life….we have nothing but love for each other, and silly bickerings aside I feel so privileged to have been given the family I have and their unconditional love and support, who have shaped me to become the woman I am today, I could not have asked for more.

I also have been blessed in other facets of my life.  I have first-class friendships.  True friends. Beautiful souls who pepper my life & bring light into my world with their loyalty, laughter and love. Remaining in my life when at times I’m not ever present in theirs….. for looking past my failings and seeing the love I have for them & staying true to our connection and friendship, without judgement, when I’m not always “kicking goals”. Thank you!

I have also recently been blessed with a job I absolutely ADORE.  Yes….it’s true….you can in fact LOVE YOUR JOB, and it not just be a menial task.  I love my workload, work colleagues and my bosses, so much that I spend my 8hrs a day sitting so happily at my desk pinching myself and asking myself if this is really real.  I’m so grateful to have employment that I so GENUINELY enjoy and thrive in!

And for the first time in a very long time true happiness has waltzed into my life in the form of my stunning, ever-present & extremely loving boyfriend. Life has not felt so wonderfully vibrant and colourful, in so damn long that I am in awe of his presence. And so eternally grateful!  He brings into my world, the most intricate & dazzling  fusion of darkness and light, I stand blinded by his very being daily. He has a rock solid & unwavering presence and view on this world, and his realist ways form a rock of love and true respect, so deep, that it keeps me grounded and secure in the knowledge he will always be there and be REAL with me, for life.  For this, I give so much thanks to every person and good & bad dealings of his past, that have lead him to be the man that stands by my side so admiringly & so reverently.  So thank you universe for this final piece of happiness that has aligned itself in my life!!!

Yet, with all the absolute positives going on, my dark little nemesis remains.  Still.

Should I not have enough happiness in my life now, to stay afloat of it all? To side step the attacks, and keep on marching on?  Apparently not.  It leaves me perplexed.  This truly must be an internal complexity, that if not kept at bay via the form of good-living, good-eating and all the rest of the stuff we all know (and have heard 1000 times), the dog will still bite.

So tomorrow I am hauling myself off to the Drs, to have a chat and get a quick course of antidepressants to level out those chemical imbalances. I am not embarrassed about this, in fact right here, right now, I own this motherfucker and it won’t get the best of me.  I have spent so much unnecessary time judging myself and breaking myself down internally (negative self-talk) when I could feel another “attack” coming on – that it hindered me.  What I need to remember, and you do too, that it is imperative that you take action as soon as you hear that black dog growling…put that thing on a leash!  Do it, before it tears away at any more of your characters precious fabric. You’re too good for it, I’m too good for it and quite seriously… there is so much to live for!  So if you feel that black dog growling or it’s already latched on, learn the signs (if they aren’t already familiar) and stay ahead of the game.

Checkmate.

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A single mothers insight to the world of online window shopping. I mean….dating.

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So being single for the last 6 months, has eventually led me to dating sites to browse the market. It’s almost like online shopping…almost…but not. It is quite convenient for a single mum, who works full time, juggles 3 kids, study, blah blah blah. It really beats engaging in one of those awkward speed dating nights (not that I have ever done it, but I’d imagine this is far easier and less awkward), or going out and picking up at a club/pub (not that I get out and about that often), and any other scenario that requires me to dress up, preen myself & waltz around. I like the convenience of browsing from the sofa, and have had the fortune of meeting a few stellar guys…just genuine good guys. Not creeps. Not rapists. Just normal, down-to-Earth guys. Which leads me to my main point….

I am genuinely really, REALLY surprised by:

a) the amount of police officers out there, who are seeking a dom/sub relationship…go figure. Makes sense, right? Comes with the territory? Perhaps a common trait in the psyche of some officers? But it seriously is every single officer that approaches me. Do I seriously look like I want to call you “my master” and be snapped at & ordered around like a dog? Fuck off.

b) How many guys totally dig/want golden showers. On the upside, at least it’s not scat?? 

c) The demand for anal play….on them. Now, I really don’t mind about that, each to their own. What I am surprised about, is the ratio that I applied to the popularity of this act being performed,which has manifested from my world of “assumptions”. Oh wait a minute…ASSumptions….no..no…I won’t get distracted with puns, I’ll stick to the point. I honestly thought that maybe the ratio would be 1:50. Not that this is a ratio I’ve really been toiling with over the years. But it turns out it’s actually 1:2. This is just going off my personal experience, and I have been contacted by over 600 guys, a few girls & couples. The odds are high people. Just an interesting little tidbit really. Anyway. Moving on…

d) The very high number of guys looking for girls, but have pics of themselves either with chicks who are clearly their partners (or ex’s) or otherwise. Ok….Guys, if you’re trying to “pick up” here’s a tip from a female… DO NOT POST PICS OF YOU WITH OTHER WOMEN. It is unappealing. You halve your success rate, right there and then.

e) People who claim to be searching high & low for others, but outright REFUSE to show you a pic of themselves. Sooooo….you want me to meet up with you, share personal info about myself, but when it comes to sharing a pic of yourself, it’s a no-go zone. Alarm bells much? Do you seriously think this tactic will ever work for you? And if it does, in the wise words of Mr T “I pity the fool”.

f) Fake profiles. Apparently they are everywhere. People claiming to be someone they’re not….why the fuck would you? Get a life. And medication. Mainly medication. I’ve had one of the few lovely guys I’ve met, tell me that he was conversing with a girl for ages, and they eventually met up. But when he turned up for the date, “she” was an over-weight, middle-aged HE. And then HE actually got very vocal & upset that Mr Lovely wanted to walk out on their date…WHYYYY? Why would you do that? What exactly are you expecting to gain from this? That Mr Lovely would see you & shrug his shoulders and say “ho-hum, oh well, near enough is good enough I guess….I AM lonely”. NO. Just no.

Sigh. It really is a whole new world out there, this whole being single thingy. I don’t want a relationship, I don’t want just a one-nighter either…I guess I’m re-discovering & remembering what it’s like to be out there and independent, with the freedom to mingle with the people of the world again. Oh well….watch this space…if things get really bad for me, maybe online I too will suddenly become a fictitious character. 22yo Brayden, who’s a budding Entrepreneur, extremely fit & well-endowed “looking for fun”. Ha!

NB: that will not happen. Ever. Just for the record.

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What’s love got to do with it?

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Well, a fucking lot. Really.

Where does it all start?  Is it being read stories from when you were still in nappies, of the poor distressed heroine who pines for a young, charming, prince to save her?  Is it seeing your main adult role models in life, constantly swoon over each other and cuddle at any chance they get?  Or is it the constant bombardment of “love stories” that is spewed forth, on a daily basis, from the trusty zombie-box and rammed down our throats??  I guess every one has a different background, but one thing seems quite common in our Western Society nowadays, and it functions around the happy mainstream nuclear family.  You know the one?  I’m sure you do.

Mum and Dad (yes, heterosexuality is usually the first indicator that we’ve entered a cookie-cutter scenario) are either High School sweethearts, or have known each other for a very long time and discovered that they get along so well, they would like to advance to the next level in Cookie Cutter oneness together.  This usually involves an announcement of sorts, proclaiming their undying love for one another that can only be displayed in a piece of (usually expensive) jewellery.  He will propose in some sort of romantic and memorable way, and believe me, it HAS to be romantic because he’s either:

A) Had that many hints dropped around that it would be considered foolish NOT to pick up on them (and live with the consequences)

B) Knows that if he doesn’t get it “right”, it will be a story that haunts him for eternity. The truth is, everyone asks about the proposal.  It’s right up there with being asked “So when’s the baby coming” on your wedding day

or

C) Hollywood worthy proposals is what is done by the other 98% of the herd….why question it?

So after all the squeals subside, the next step involves parting with a ludicrous amount of money to express your love to each other for 1/2 a day, a Honeymoon away (…..because that’s the done thing, right??), and then finally living together as Mr & Mrs X.

Your future now includes buying a property, having at least 1 offspring or fur-baby, cars, happy jobs, unhappy debts and striving together for bigger debts (LOVE!). You will spend eternity as one, mincing around doing happy, carefree things until you both become sexy silver nomads and prune hedges while you giggle at the days gone-by over a glass of ice tea. Right?? But where does this all stem from?  If someone is alone for a lot of their life, we quietly (or not so) think to ourselves “what’s wrong with them?”  Why does the majority of our lives seem to rotate around this whole Disney-esque ideal?

Someone may be perfectly happy to be alone through their days. To not need to feel validated by another person or society, by engaging in a long-term romantic partnership. To spend their free time lost in a mind-blowing novel, knitting, writing, cooking, wanking…. who are we to judge?  They are HAPPY.  And yet we still do.  We think there’s something wrong with them.  That they need saving. Suddenly we don our inner Oprah caps on, and start trying to fix the problem because this happy little soul (or in our minds, deluded lonely spinster/bachelor), hasn’t followed the bouncing ball of life progression that is drummed into our minds from day dot.  We will turn up un-announced on their front door step to “get them out of the house” with our pity-laden smiles, waving a metaphorical carrot in front of their faces to coax them into a suitable public environment where they feel comfortable letting their unkempt & unloved hair down, and can be ushered towards other lost and lonely souls. There you go, you poor reclusive bastard!  Now be merry and bask in the glow of my smugness!

Reality call – you’re a pushy fuck who needs to mind your own business & let others wank away (or knit) in the happy confines of their pity-pad, being the lone ranger of awesomeness that they are. Fuck off.

I dare you to think of expressions of love, outside of this stupid little Disney-hole we are in.  Can we not simply exist side-by-side under the same roof, without all the fluff that goes along with it?  How could we possibly know of weddings, rocks, horses & carriages and “happily ever after” if it wasn’t constantly enforced upon us on a daily basis?  Don’t believe me?  Try and think of a time, past & present, where it’s not entertwined in everything we watch, hear or read.

So what exactly is love, if we don’t just blindly follow what society tells us?  It is not a $100k wedding.  It is not making someone buy or wear a ring you want.  It is not a new surname. It is not getting your manicured hands on a Vera Wang. It is not perfectly folded linen & Royal Doulton in the display cabinets. It is not a nursery and a white picket fence.

Love is seeing somebodies truly ugly side, and loving it – love and accept the ugly, because most times you can’t completely eradicate it, and you’re going to have to live with it.  Can’t live with it?  Start walking.

Love is letting someone be themselves, positively & respectfully, and not trying to bend them to your way. An example? They may have an interest in going to every death-metal gig possible for the next 10 yrs & all you want them to do is to pretend they don’t like the genre, which will in turn keep you happy and not feel so embarassed….. not going to happen.  They are who they are, and their crazy little interests is what contributes to the soul you have fallen in love with. Leave it be.  As long as you’re not being harmed and there is full respect on the table, then chill the fuck out.

Love is loving yourself enough ALONE and NOT having to enter a relationship with another to feel validated or confident. If you think you’ll be a better person once you find someone to love you, you are going to encounter problems along the way.  Trust me.  If you can’t love you, then don’t go hedging all your bets on someone else to bring you out of that dark little funk you’re in.  As someone once quoted (NOT Shakespeare), “Expectation is the root of all heartache“.

Love on all levels, whether alone or in a partnership, is something that needs to be completely understood, before you have any hope of growing from it.

Love yourself enough to know happiness, otherwise you’ll be forever chasing it like the setting sun.  Love your partner enough to know what is cool, quirky or tolerable and what needs revamping. Honour and respect the emotions of Love itself & stop being all Disney and cliché about your future – once the prettiness fades away, you will be alone with the stark reality of two not-so-perfect humans sharing both beauty & flaws. Stop trapping yourself in the NEED to stick with the ideologies of “Love” marketed to us & understand what’s truly involved with commitment.  And finally, don’t feel pressured to follow that bouncing ball, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sitting naked in your bachelor pad, masturbating over the crocheted dolly toilet roll holder you just picked up at the thrift shop….as long as you’re completely happy…..right?!

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The Lost Boys

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Complain if you will, but my friendship terms involve standards. Not for meeting social, financial or intellectual requirements. That shit, i don’t really give a fuck about. But how you carry on throughout our friendship & how you treat others….yeah, I take note of that shit. I store it all away, in my mental vault and refer to it from time to time. Whether we catch up daily, weekly, once a year or once every decade, it’s ALL there.  Smoking pot in my past may have tainted parts of my memory but that little vault is bullet proof. Well, perhaps just THC proof.  Ok, let’s be honest here, it is also occasionally prone to alcohol-induced floods 😉

Now, I’m a girl who gives absolutely EVERYONE a go.  Five go’s even! Quite often, to my own detriment. But hey, it’s something I can’t change within me & that’s how I roll. I understand ppl fuck up.  I fuck up. You fuck up. Even Ghandi has fucked up. The true test, for us all, is whether or not you continually keep repeating the same negative mistakes & behavioural patterns in friendships/social interactions or you move on & grow. Even the roughest piece of coal still harbours diamond qualities.

My friends (past & present) always laugh about the fact that I will always see the best in people.  An old flame once commented that it would be quite likely for me to walk into a bar and strike up a conversation with the hunched over psychopath who is sharpening his knife in the corner, muttering to himself with a necklace of victims ears adorning his neck.  All the whilst maintaining they are “misunderstood” and a “lovely person” deep down inside.  What can I say? I love people. Love observing them, reading them, breaking them down and figuring out what makes them tick.  What’s that you say? You just stole your grandmothers pension to fund a plane trip to the other side of the country to meet someone you met online whilst playing World of Warcraft?  That’s ok, you’re probably “lost” & have insecurity problems. That’s why you did it, right?  Yeah? Lame example, I know. But that’s a fairly good idea of how I may read the situation, if it were presented to me on our meeting. Either that or you’re an A-Grade c***. Let me determine that one over a beer with you 😉

Had I not had this perception of the world, I believe I would’ve missed out on some of the most memorable experiences of my life, with many a lost soul. I have mixed with celebrities, politicians, thieves, artists, murderers, paedophiles, elitists, junkies, athletes, the homeless, musicians, diplomats, bikies, Masonics, Evangelists, models, Satanists, healers, racists & everything else in between!!!!  The memories, the stories and the experiences gained, leave me craving more. Some ppl I know consider humans to be a scurge on this planet we inhabit, and maybe some are  *cough*  Kim Jong Il  *cough* Adolph Hitler *cough cough* Nicki Minaj. But all in all, we’re an interesting, somewhat lovable lot.

I remember a period of time in my life, where I was mixing with some “unfavourable” types.  They were a group of young boys, aged 17-23, and really, really got up to no good.  Why was I hanging around with them? Well, inititally I quite honestly detested them. They came around to visit my flatmate once to partake in a drink over a weekend (all 8 of them) and never really left my house. That “pop over for a drink” visit finally came to an end 2 flatmates & 1.5 yrs later. I really didn’t like them at the beginning. I was attending University and trying to get through my double degree, and they….well, they just sponged and drank, smoked and drank, slept, ate our food & then drank a little more. Fail!  I avoided my house. I HATED going home, and often found myself just crashing at a friends house. By the third week of their stay, I had to bite the bullet, and go home and stay there for more than 1 day. That, my friends, is when I let my guard down a little and started talking to them and discovering who they were as people/brothers/someones sons/family/friends.  They were ‘The Lost Boys’.

They all came from very broken homes. Since their early ages (4-6y.o.), they had all  been taken away from their families for varied reasons & placed in many different foster homes & religious (not so) safe houses. Due to these rocky foundations (and for some of them, sexual abuse very early on in the piece) the only way they could show their anger or frustrations with society was through crime.  Enter stage right, Juvenile Detention Centres. They’d do their time in the detention centre, be released back into society, maybe last 1 month on the outside & then be caught for a crime and sent straight back in to the centre. Once they were old enough, the detention centre soon  became jail.  I believe this is where the crossover of “homes” occurred for them psychologically.  They spent so much time on “the inside” they formed a little family. They had relatives inside, mates, a bed to sleep in, 3 meals a day, all without having to pay a cent! They all felt quite uncomfortable being back in the real world, and would find themselves committing a crime just so they could go back inside to their comfort zone.

The pattern of going back & forth continued, up until the day I let my guard down.  I would ask them why they did the things they did. I really believe it was the scneario of me putting my hands on my hips and saying “why don’t you just go out and get a job??”  HA!  I laugh now, because I look back on this day & really realised just how naive I really was.  Their pained & desperate eyes just glanced up at me and then looked away. There was an awkward silence, which I soon muffled out with the sound of me pulling a cone, and then I walked over to the cd player and put some music on.  I learnt later just how fucking impossible it is for young men who have spent their lives in juvy & jail to get a break from an employer who was willing to take a chance on someone with a very extensive criminal record.  Even if they wanted to “turn their lives around” by carrying out honest work and strive for something positive, all they received were walls thrown up or doors slammed in their faces.  After applying for 10’s and 10’s of jobs, in their brief moments back in the real world, they tended to get a little disheartened and returned to the only thing they’d come to know. Crime. They would steal money or items they could take down to the pawn shop and get instant cash.  My eyes were beginning to open…

So lets backtrack a little. Prior to knowing all of this, the day I bit the bullet and returned home for more than one day to endure their presence in my lounge room, I had to leave home for an outing but had about $400 on me I didn’t want to carry in my wallet. My flatmate wasn’t home, but they were.  They were strewn around my loungeroom (still) listening to tunes & drinking (still).  I walked into the middle of the room and threw the wad of money on the floor, then asked  “are you guys going anywhere today?”  No, was the response I received, with all of their eyes darting back and forth from the money to me. “Well, I know I can trust that you guys will be here when I get back, could you please look after my money until I get home?”   SILENCE.  MORE SILENCE. “Are you sure you want to leave that with us?” one of the lost boys asked me.  “Yeah. Why?  Are you guys going somewhere?”  GENUINE, BEAUTIFUL SMILES.  “No. We’ll be here.” another replied. “thank you” I said, as I departed without a second thought.  And that was it.  I left my house & my money in a room full of homeless, desperate criminals to mind for me.  But what I created was shock, confusion & absolute astonishment.  They were flawed that I trusted them.  I actually believe that’s the first time this had ever happened to them in a very long time….if ever. And so began, a very different friendship with The Lost Boys, the memories of which I will hold with me for the rest of my life.

Over time I warmed to them, without letting my narrow-minded judgements interfere with getting to know and understand the broken & tainted souls which had slipped into the cracks of society. You see everyone has a story. A history. Everyone has hopes and dreams. And everyone was once a little boy or girl growing up in this world in whatever environment fate supplied them. Each would sit with me when the others weren’t around, and tell me how much they hated crime and the inevitable outcome of returning back to jail. They wanted to break free of the rest (knowing that they could not maintain a crime-free life around the group). Each had their own little dreams of where they’d like to be in the future.  I would join in with them in this imaginary world where we would go on vacations to big cities, sit on the beach and catch huge fish and discuss how we would cook it up on the fire.  Go shopping and dress ourselves in the clothing we desired and then jump in the most prestigious of cars and drive back to our luxurious hotel, where we’d all get ready before spending the next 36 hours hitting many a nightclub. What fun we’d have!  You see, no matter what your background is, no matter if you’re the lump of coal or a multi-faceted, glistening diamond, EVERYONE IN THIS WORLD IS ENTITLED TO DREAM, NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE! It’s these dreams that sometimes keep you hanging on to whatever reigns of life we are issued at birth and grasp in our hands, until the day we cross over to the other side.

One of the lost boys dared to dream BIG.  He wanted to break free of this life and walk on a new hassle-free path.  He couldn’t read or write but with a lot of one-on-one chats, we discussed how he would go if he were to apply to college to study.  We discussed what courses he may be interested in and what he’d love to learn about. There was a lot of negative self-talk on his behalf but we worked through it. It took a while but we got there 🙂  I believed in him & we were both quite excited at the prospects.  One afternoon as I was sitting around playing cards in the loungeroom, he waltzed through the front door. A glint in his eye, and the most shyest of smiles. I was intrigued. I walked over to the fridge to grab another beer and he came over and whispered  “I got in”.  Huh?  I was confused. Of course he got in, he just walked through the front door.  He pushed a piece of paper into my hand and had a smile on his face that you’d imagine on children if they were given the keys to a toy shop and encouraged to run wild 🙂  Oh how I will never forget that moment.  The pride, the happiness, the hope…..fuck……i just can’t explain it….. we were just so damn chuffed!!!  I squealed with delight and threw my arms around him and was jumping up and down.  Of course this piqued the curiosity of those in the loungeroom, and soon enough they were all wanting to know what was so exciting.  We looked at each other, he started blushing, and I loudly announced that he was just accpeted in to college and was about to start studying a course he was intersted in.  SILENCE. SNIGGERING. RAUCOUS LAUGHTER. DEMEANING SNEERS. MORE LAUGHTER. INSULTS. “Are you joking??  You make me weak!  You’re too fucking stupid to go to college” LAUGHTER.  “Just grab us a beer and sit down and start shuffling, you dickhead”.

That was the first & last time he ever dreamed.

He’s dead now. Most of them are.

Not long after that afternoon, things really started to spiral downhill for all of us.  I had quit Uni, and got caught up in the chats and party lifestyle, and they…well, they never changed.  I ended up leaving them all behind one morning. It was 6am, they were all asleep. I remember stepping over all of them as I packed a small bag to jump on a plane to fly interstate and to begin a new chapter (I will expand more upon this another time) & pick myself up and get back on track.  I phoned my house a few days later, assuming they were still sitting in my lounge room awaiting my return. I was right.  They picked up my phone and answered, as if it were their own house (cheeky fucks 🙂 ) and I spoke to them.  They asked when I was coming home as they were all worried about me.  “I’m not”.  DISBELIEF.  “Where are you?”  they asked, still thinking I was joking.  I told them that I’d left on a plane and was never coming back.  SILENCE. I apologised feeling guilty as hell, but they knew I needed to do this to stay alive  (once again, I’ll tell you the story another day). We said our goodbyes, and hung up.  That was the day their safe-house and their loooooooooong stint at freedom came to an end.  It was the longest time any of them had spent out of jail or a detention centre since they were kids.  I wasn’t there to hide them & try and keep them out of trouble.  Fuck I felt like shit.  The guilt still plays on my mind from time to time.  It was that easy for me to escape this life, and pick up a new one in another city.  Not that easy for them.  I got out.  I escaped.  I was FREE.  They, on the other hand, would never be able to afford that luxury.  Soon enough, they were all caught for crimes and were all back in jail.  That is where this story ends.  Most of them ended up hanging themselves.  As I said,  they were sick of this life. The same old pattern repeating itself since they were children. They were sick of being labelled dropkicks and spat on by society.  They would NEVER get a break by “the man”.  They were really victims to a fucked up glitch in this sysytem where if you have a bad history or past, you are forever labelled.  No matter how much you want to change.  They dont’ dare to dream or get their hopes up.  Because the person they sit down with in a job interview, the lady at the shops, their neighbours, even YOU, will still judge them.  You will back away from them and talk to them as if they’re a piece of shit or at least not honestly. I did, before I got to know them.  You probably would too. There’s only so much judgement & negativity one can take before they throw in the towel.  They called me from jail a few times. Wrote me letters. But soon, all of that ceased, and word got back to me of their deaths.

Promise me, after reading this, that if ever someone “unsavoury” ever crosses your path, if you have to talk to them, then please speak to them genuinely and treat them like a human being.  Try not to automatically label them.  Speak to them like they’re a good person.  Even if it’s just for a brief moment.  They really appreciate that, because chances are that the other 98% of people they will meet and  society en masse is going to treat them like dirt anyway….

Thank you.

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Bravo Emo’s. You get the last laugh.

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The repercussions. Oh, the repercussions. Initially I forgot to take my happy pills the other day, then upon realising I had forgotten to take them, blatantly refused to take them. Part of me would like to dismiss this as my ‘very stubborn …Taurean trait’, but realistically it is just STUPIDITY. So it’s been 36-48hrs without meds & now I’m playing catch up. Have just taken 2 anti-deps as a reluctant gesture of courtesy to all involved in the aftermath of my ‘taurean moment’, but now I realise why the Dr’s STRESSED not to skip the pills! It’s like….well…everything comes back 10-fold when you miss them so early on in the pharmaceutical regime, which my body & mind has now been placed upon. Not happy Jan!!!
I don’t want to go backwards. I want to move forwards. But for those of you who have never experienced the depths of a mental illness & just simply can’t fathom what it’s like to think this way, allow me to be your journalist from the “other side”. Live & direct.
So negged out with a complete brain fart whilst wandering the aisles of the supermarket, and decided it’d be a jolly good idea to purchase an instrument which I could use to hurt myself <insert the sound of warning bells here>.  Why would I want to hurt myself? I never understood it before, but have now discovered that when you feel extremely low & numb of emotions (and common sense), you want to express that emotional pain. Crazy right?! Now, I am one to wince at the thought of having a tetanus shot, and carry on like a dude when he has the “man-flu” upon receiving a paper cut, so I know that this new little manifestation of my ‘taurean moment’ is completely WRONG. Yet I couldn’t rise above it!!!!  I always joked about emo’s & said that they’d hold parties where they listen to Radiohead, sob and quietly cut themselves in the corner…..but living that emotion is another fucked up ballpark altogether!!! Karma is a consistent bi-atch 😉 So I’ve trundled home, played with my new ‘toy’ <warning bells, warning bells, FOGHORN>  & I am trying to come to terms with why it feels so good….messed up. It’s like having a hot bath after a strenuous day & going “ahhhhhh”.  I think it’s feeling and seeing the immediate outcome of pain. Too much info? I’m sorry. I am literally sitting here trying to make sense of it. Why am I posting this in public? I really don’t fucking know. It’s probably a form of self-confrontation, a diary entry, and a messed up soliloquy at best!
This isn’t a cry for help. Let me make that clear. I know what I need to do & will address it accordingly. I will call my support lady tomorrow, push my Dr’s appt forward if possible and catch up on my meds so I am feeling as fan-fucking-tastic as I have since i started taking them ( that was not sarcasm btw, I have felt absolutely awesome lately).
Lesson = NEVER EVER SKIP MEDS!!!!
Over and out.
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emerging from the chrysallis

From the most sterile environment beauty still manifests itself in various ways. And I have to give special props to my new friend for life, Miss Tee. Tee has been in Club Med for 8 months & I always saw her walking around but NEVER saw her interacting with any of the patients. On my third night, one of the girls said “Oh, that’s Tee. She’s deaf. I think she’s been here awhile”. I couldn’t believe it…..imagine being in a sterile ward, but not being able to communicate with anyone?! Horrible!!! So the following day I wrote her a letter, something along the lines of:

Dear Tee,
My name is X and I’m in room 11. I heard you are deaf. That must really suck in a place like this. I can’t really sign, but I can write 🙂 Do u smoke? I do. So if you would like to, come and grab me for a ciggy and bring some pen and paper & we can hang out.
Love, X

I gave her a fresh rose that id bought that day, and handed the letter to her. Well, we were pretty inseparable since 🙂 🙂 🙂 She has taught me sign language, and I have picked it up really well. To the point now where I can be the translator between Tee and the other patients. The nurses were blown away at how happy & social she had become. I even went looking for her the one day, only to find her sitting in the courtyard playing cards with the other patients!!!! Which is apparently amazing, as she had sat in her room for 8 months straight. I don’t think I could’ve endured the hospital without her. She is such a beautiful butterfly, and I am so privileged to have her as a girlfriend & to witness her spread her wings!! Thank you Tee for everything – for making me laugh, letting me cry & being there for me ♥  The other patients love her and are excited to get to know the beautiful person she is, and she is happy to begin to get to know them. We have been teaching them some of the basics in sign so they can communicate with her & they are thrilled( ….well most of them are, with the exception of the extremely paranoid schizophrenics. They just think you’re plotting against them). And if all else fails, there is always the old fashioned pen & paper.

Once again, something so simple to you can make a world of difference to someone else!!

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The shocking truth.

For the first few days I spent in the ward, I remained in my own company. I really didn’t have the time to talk to anyone…..wait….I really DID have A LOT of time doing nothing but stare at the walls and ceiling of my little sterile nest. So let me re-phrase that. I really couldn’t be fucked talking to anyone.

My first proper day started off with me entering the cafeteria to have my scheduled breakfast. “Here we go. Eating with the crazies. Fml…blah blah blah” or something along those lines, were the thoughts in my head. And to be perfectly honest, I was embarrassed.”What am I actually doing here? Is this the right place for me? ”  Well, the GP seemed to think so.  In fact, I went to see her less than 24 hours before that very meal, and I was hoping she’d just give me a hug, an understanding smile & some really, really strong drugs. Fuck no! I think it was by the time I went to grab my 5th tissue from her dainty little paisley tissue box, that she had already dialed the hospital, in a frenzy, to have me admitted that day. It was when she asked me “Are you ok to drive yourself to the hospital? Can you promise me you will really take yourself there?  Perhaps I should just get them to send an  an ambulance over right now for you”. I withdrew my hand from grabbing the 6th tissue.  O-k…… so what’s happening here?  A turn for the worse?  Hmmm. Hospital she says.  Call an ambulance for me, she says.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I quickly composed myself, in an effort to reassure her there was no need to call a (fucking) ambulance (wtf?) & I would most definitely make the appointment. Smile. Nod. Smile. Nod. Nod. Wave. Walk. Walk. Frantic Pace to car. Zoooom.  I rushed home, advised my partner of what I suspected was about to take place, packed my phone charger & tobacco and ordered a taxi to the hospital.  Which led me to waking up the following day to my very first breakfast in Club Med.

In the sleepy shuffles of fellow patients lining up to get their morning meal, I used the time to subtly glance around and see what fate had delivered me in regards to company. It was slim pickings. Most of them I was quite hesitant to even look at, let alone sit near & I found they were all staring at me, giving me the judgmental once over that any new girl receives in an unfamiliar environment.  I was to later learn that these were all quite beautiful & lost souls. They would one day make me laugh through my time in there, who I would console during some of their darkest moments & would somehow leave a long and lasting impression, that I would carry with me for the rest of my life.

I recalled being briefly introduced to my room mate upon arrival the previous evening. I shall refer to her as Rose.  I liked her.  She was an older lady in her late 60’s, rather quiet & really had that Nana feel about her. I’d first seen her curled up on the couch watching TV when I was taken around the ward on my tour, and after seeing/briefly engaging with most of the other patients, I decided she was definitely the best person to be sharing a room with & I’d definitely lucked out. Huzzah!  The following morning I was woken up for breakfast & noticed Rose wasn’t in the room. Spritely thing!  So I showered myself and ventured into the cafeteria. Nope. No Rose there. I figured that she was more than likely caught up with the nurses, and carried on dressing up my porridge with fresh fruit & milk.  It was a daily routine of mine that once I finished breakfast I’d make myself a coffee & slip outside for a smoke or two.  Having finished my morning smokes I went back to my little nook, shut the door, drew the curtain around my bed and continued to stare at the walls through teary eyes. Wait. It really wasn’t as banal as I make out. I did have my smart phone and was able to browse Facebook, what not and such & such. So between not wanting to be around people, feeling dead inside & modern technology, I really had a whole day’s worth of activity right there! Anyhoo, I heard the doors open and the soft reassuring voices of the nurses. Ahh!  Rose must be there.  “Rose, we have your breakfast for you”.  A few more gentle & polite words were exchanged between nurse and patient and they were out.  Wow – bedside service!  The idea of not having to mingle with the rest, and quietly plod through the meal alone in my bed was very alluring  🙂  Well played Rose!  This was to be the way things went for most of the mornings that week.

As the days went on, I opened up to Rose about why I was there & all the shit from my past. She was so lovely , understanding….and sane.  Then it was her turn. She said that she too was suffering from depression, which is why she was there.  Actually, that was it.  That’s all she could tell me.  I watched her strain for more information but nothing was coming out.  She said “I really don’t remember coming here.  I don’t know how I got here”.  I tried to jog her memory, but she just shook her head with a confused look on her face.  She recalled coming home from the shops & waving to her neighbour, but everything after that was blank.  She didn’t even know what day it was.  She touched her earlobes & wrist searching for the earrings and watch she swore she never removes, but they weren’t there.  She just kept muttering that she “just can’t remember”.  I reassured her that it’s all ok, and the important thing was that she was here now & that she was on her way home in 4 days!!! As the week went on, I heard Rose’s accounts over and over again. I watched her search herself for her lost belongings, and that’s when I realised something was askew with our dear, sweet Rose.

One afternoon we were sitting outside and she looked at me with a look of confusion & she quietly asked me “Do you have the same treatment as me?”. Well yeah, maybe…. I guess I’m here for depression too. So I looked at her and asked “I don’t know. I guess so. What treatment is that?” her face went sullen and she whispered “the electroshock treatment”.  On the outside, I was relaxed. Cool & calm. But on the inside my reaction resembled something akin to a Looney Tunes character. My eyes sprung from my head and my cartoon jaw dropped to the ground. I took another drag on my cigarette, as my cartoon hand scooped my jaw off the ground and placed it back in proportion with my head, and on my exhale I said “Ummm….no. No I don’t think so. Well not yet, anyway”. And with that, she shrunk back into herself. “what happens in the treatment?” I asked her. She claimed she didn’t know. She looked down at her arms and showed me the bruising on her right arm and the back of her hand. Intriguing, yes? I promised her I’d jump on my phone & Google it straight away & update her with the outcome. She was very grateful & we wandered back inside to our room, and I got straight to task.

So here is a direct excerpt of what I found on the net:

“The patient’s heart rate is monitored throughout the procedure, which actually lasts no more than ten minutes in the operating room. He receives an IV of an anesthetic (i.e. Brevital) in his arm and usually is asked to count (I was asked to count backwards) until he becomes unconscious. Then an IV of succinylcholine is put in the arm (relaxing the muscles to prevent broken bones and cracked vertebrae), a rubber block is inserted in the mouth to prevent biting on the tongue, a mask is placed over the mouth so the brain is not deprived of oxygen and conducting jelly is rubbed on the temples and electrodes connected. The doctor presses a button and electric current shoots through the brain, causing a grand-mal seizure for 20 seconds. Usually, the patient wakes up in about 30 minutes.”

Do you know what the worst thing is???  THEY HAVE NO PROOF THIS PROCEDURE ACTUALLY WORKS, IT JUST SEEMS TO GET RESULTS!  Wtf?  So they’re allowed to emit electric currents into someones BRAIN on the basis of what? A hunch?  A fucking HUNCH????  Now THAT, ladies & gentlemen is what we in the industry refer to as “bullshit”.  Oh, and a major side effect of having this procedure carried out upon you is loss of memory. Bravo fuckheads.

So there I was, stuck with the image of poor, innocent Rose, on the operating table out cold, being convulsed to a state that her bones may break or she may chew her tongue off. I was unsure if I wanted to share this with her. So I went to grab her for dinner, where she relayed her story to me yet again and I watched as she vaguely touched her earlobes whilst she ate her pudding, with a quizzical and sombre look on her face.  Do I tell her now? No. It’s not exactly polite dinner conversation.  So I left it.  She only had one more treatment left before she could go home, perhaps she doesn’t need to know the extent of the procedure. Perhaps she is just happy to be going home soon. I kept my new findings to myself.

The following day the same old scenario played out. Rose wasn’t at breakfast but upon my return to our room, she was propped up and quietly picking at her cereal.  I went and sat with her, and she advised me again that she should be going home soon. She just couldn’t recall where her belongings were.  I guess they remove any metallic objects from a patient who undergoes ECT, so I advised her she should check with the nurses on duty. She thanked me and called me a different name. I suspected she was ‘cheating’ as she had actually forgotten my name which she used quite often over the preceding days. She had read the sign up in our room which provided the nurses on duty with the patients name. The only thing was, the previous patients name was still up and I hadn’t been bothered to get them to change it.

That afternoon Rose’s sister came to collect her from the hospital. I walked into the room just as they were leaving and she showed me her (bruised) arm with absolute glee, as she was sporting her very beloved watch! I didn’t share with Rose my new discoverings from the previous day. Perhaps I should’ve. I doubt she would’ve recalled them anyway.  But one thing was certain.  I vowed to make a hasty recovery, because there was no way in hell I would let a team of medical professionals knock me out and emit electrical currents into my brain, all in the name of curing my depression!!!

Fuck. That.

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Introducing the zombie pill!

As you can guess, the whole idea of being in hospital is for you to be balanced out via the helping hands of pharmaceuticals and then nestled back into society as an upgraded & doped up version of your previous self.

Initially they tested me on 1 pill for a couple of days (Efexor?) and were astonished that I had not made a recovery. In fact, I was still plagued by my dark thoughts even more so.  This is probably due to the fact that what they had actually prescribed me was just your regular run-of-the-mill, low dose anti-dep that they most likely brandish at any poor housewife that breaks into tears in the GP’s.  Now, if I’ve been admitted immediately for a lengthy stay at “Club Med”, I suspect it is because I am in need of something a little more hard core than the equivalent of a Panadeine Forte!  I need Valium, Lithium, something to shake me up & knock me out of the darkness bitches!!! I reflected upon the days where they tested patients on LSD….now THAT is a hard core test trial, but probably the worst trip you’d ever have considering the environment :\  Oh, btw, I hear they’re dabbling with the thought of prescribing sufferers of Chronic Depression with a low dose of ketamine. Not sure how slipping into the K-Hole is going to solve anything either, but then what would I know?!

So the Doc’s upgraded me from my “lowly, sniffling housewife pill” to the “super happy-happy-joy-joy” pill & then coupled it with 2 doses of Seroquel a day. Yup. That ought to do it 😉  Ahhhh Seroquel, how does one describe thee? Ummmm…. Well it’d be safe to say that I think I would’ve enjoyed it much more if I was sitting in a lounge room with friends listening to Portishead or Bob Marley, with some ambient lighting, incense and the likes. I could feel it kicking in within 30 mins of taking it. It started with hot flushes & head tingles, then slowly I started floating. Eventually I started feeling REALLY out of it & finally thought “WTF?!” Is this actually the answer?? Is this the Drs way of medicating my problem? I mean….really?! It’s just like a legalized form of MDMA & smack….kind of. I told one of the patients what I had been given & he advised me that he met a dealer once, back in his clubbing days, that would sell this little red pill for $50!!!

Anyways, I had my little breakfast cocktail again the following morning, was suitably zombified, and then had a sit down with my Dr. He said “you seem a lot calmer today”. I replied “well you do have me drugged up to the eyeballs, so what do you expect? Anyone would be. I’m not sure how this is going to help me on the outside, once I leave. I need to work & look after kids”. Although I’m of the opinion it actually all came out extremely slurrrrrred and very d-r-a-w-n out. But in my mind it was delivered with the succinct speed of any intelligent quip or witticism. He advised me it was just a “mood stabiliser”…..ahhhhhh yeah. Ok. If that’s what you want to call it. I call it catatonia. But the Dr seemed extremely satisfied with his results, and from there on in I was given 2 doses of the little red zombie pill a day (morning & evening).

But when life gives you lemons, hey?!  I put that shit to good use & took to laying on the grass in the mornings sipping a frappe, staring up at the blue sky & clouds above me, whilst burning through cigarette after cigarette, thanking the heavens above that I wasn’t locked up in a padded room pissing in a cardboard toilet…

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Breaking the boredom..

So the psych ward is what they consider a “low stimulus” environment.  Which means no loud activities, limited visiting hours, and no conga lines to bad 80’s pop songs (thank fuck!). There’s pretty much nothing to do, except to be there for the healing that meds and nurses provide and stare at the pale yellow walls….I mean we did get the option to watch TV in the shared common room – not really my cup of tea. Arguing over channels with a moody patient just didn’t appeal to me. The nurses did make a point of showing me where the crayons were if I wanted to express myself artistically, as well as the courtyard full of bouncy balls in all colours and sizes.  Actually, one of the patients was getting “too angry” with the balls because he was kicking them too hard, so they ended up locking all of the balls away. So we HAD bouncy balls :\ I pretty much opted for cigarettes & coffee out on the lawn where I did partake in a range of colourful conversations with many of the patients.

So my main girl T (who is slightly awesome & I shall tell you about her later!) & I went down to the shops and bought feather boas for ourselves and bubble blowers for everyone. Yes. We are allowed limited leave, should we require anything from the shops. Go to the bank, pay bills….buy bubble blowers. You know, necessities. So brought the bubble blowers back to the ward and handed them around 🙂 It was a beautiful sight to see the glum old courtyard (complete with murals of tropical landscapes…wtf?? Cruel much?!), absolutely filled with hundreds of bubbles. Everyone was laughing and playing, claiming this was better than smoking. There were giggles, some even dancing in the bubbles, twirling and catching them. They were saying to the nurses that all the psych wards need to have more bubbles for their patients & to spread the word 🙂 🙂 🙂 One boy even said he wanted to hang onto his bubble blower, just so he could remember the good times ♥

Remember, something so simple, can turn someones mood around.

Once again, bubbles save the day!!!

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