I am taking charge of me

do be free

I’ve had so much talk counselling/therapy in the past 22 years that I am completely sick of it. The advice I’ve survived, the lectures I’ve tolerated, the scoldings I’ve gritted my teeth through, the sympathy, the empathy, the tears, I’m sick of it all. There is no cure, not mainstream or alternative, for the mental illnesses that have plagued my life. I’m sick and tired of people in positions of learning telling me I just need to try this or that or the other. Step back, experts! I’m taking charge of me!

You know what I need? I need to stay in my house and not be harassed to go to appointments that only add stress. I need to stay in my house and cook good food. Stay in my house and write my book. Stay in my house and write my blog. Stay in my house and love my friends and family from right here in my studio, where I can breathe easy, feel safe, feel happy. That’s what I need right now. Anyone who says different just ain’t living in my skin and hey, you don’t know how it is.

Thanks for listening to this.

be you xx Rachel

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A Quiet Thursday Can Make You Think

It’s a quiet Thursday here. My husband is at the volunteer job that Centrelink made him find, and he will be home later in a completely crippled, hunched and crying-out-in pain state. I am enjoying the quiet here, and I’ve been reading a Cornwell book that I’m enjoying. I’ve done some writing, spent time on Facebook, washed out the kitchen cupboards and picked the ripe citrus off our trees.

I’m antsy, though. Waiting for hubby to get home and fall into bed, begging for pain killers. Waiting to watch him try to walk around our tiny house, shuffling like a ninety year old. I am waiting to see how he is, so I can write about it. I’ve decided I can’t sit back and watch any more. I can’t watch his agony and help him and say nothing about the fact that he is jumping through hoops for the government, despite a clear report from his doctor that he is permanently in acute pain.

I’ve attended a couple of his Centrelink appointments with him, but it’s hard for me to do that with my mental illness issues. The staff go through the motions, show him which forms he needs to fill out, refer him to one of the employment agencies and tell him he must do a minimum of two days volunteering per week. I’m here to tell you, he can’t walk to the corner shop. Not ever. He is in agony. If he sits in one position for more than ten minutes, he cries out in pain and then continues to cry out in pain as he manoeuvres into the next position, maybe on the other ruined hip, and cries out in pain. He can’t do anything around our home for more than about ten minutes, without terrible pain. How can the government require him to do volunteer work, in the amount of pain he is in, so he can be allowed to be given the minimum amount of money as a job seeker? Utter insanity, in my opinion. Cruel, torturous, insanity.

We go shopping for food once a fortnight. We go out together, me with my crazy head, and he with his tortured body. He sits on a bench near the supermarket, in terrible pain, while I swing around the aisles as quickly as I can, trying not to make eye contact with anyone. At the end of each aisle, I’m looking for him, to see how much pain he’s in, and I hurry on to try and get finished before he reaches an utterly unbearable level of pain.

I often forget things, in my hurry to get back to the car, back to the safe haven of our home. Then he lies down, crying out in pain, and I unpack the car, as quickly as I can. Or he helps me unload, crying out in agony with each load.

I’m grateful we live in a country where we are given money to live on when we can’t work. Don’t think I’m ungrateful, and don’t think I don’t know that there are people a lot worse off than us, I know some of those people! But, truly, why is my man made to volunteer in agony, when he worked hard all of his life, part of it for the Department of Defence as a tradesman, he has paid his taxes his whole life, has always worked, never bludged? Why does the government make him volunteer? Let me tell you it is doing nothing for his quality of life. It is doing nothing to make him ‘feel useful’ as they say.

Thanks for listening to me rant about this. It’s something I have no handle on. If I could find a way to cure him, I would, god knows we’ve tried every mainstream and alternative healing we have found and not a one of them has relieved his suffering. If I could find a way to afford to tell the government that we don’t need their money, so he no longer has to do their volunteer work, I would do it. In the meantime I just shake my head, offer him a hot water bottle for his spine, a warm blanket for the joints in his feet, knees, hips and hands, some pain killers. I cook his favourite foods, hold his hand and tell him that one day we might be free of the ‘help’ we need from the government, but I truly don’t know how.

Thanks so much for listening. xx

be you xx Rachel

I’m An Empty Nester Filled With Guilty Glee and Some Sadness

Today I am an ’empty-nester’ and I think that I could write about the guilty glee of this new situation. Part of me wants my boys to live with me till the day I die, so I can make them pancakes for breakky on the weekends, cook them chicken soup when they’re sick and laugh with them about the weirdness of life in general. I love my boys.

a journal mine

Today, my house is my own and I have never really lived like this before, except for a short time when I shared custody of the boys. That was not fun in any way, and all I felt was guilt and shame for getting divorced because of what it did to their lives. Now, I have my house to myself and my husband, who has decided that it’s time to go naked ’round the house, 24/7.

Today I’m in my new writing studio, the sunny back verandah room that used to be my youngest sons bedroom. I have a new novel burning its way into my consciousness, out through my fingers. I have a main character who wants her story told. I’m excited.

be you xx Rachel

How Do You Know If You Need Help?

tiger family

1. Suicidal Thoughts

If you’re having suicidal thoughts of any kind, get help. Suicide is permanent in the extreme, and if you’re feeling like it’s the only solution, you need to go and tell someone immediately. I recommend having a safe person, like your best friend, partner, shrink, anyone who is available to you no matter what and can be trusted to believe you when you tell them “Right now I am thinking about killing myself.” or “Lately, all I can think about is killing myself.”

2. Self Harm

If you’re thinking about harming yourself, or if you’ve already harmed yourself, get help. In a healthy state of mind, no person would harm themselves, so you must assume that you’re not in a healthy mind set if you’re in a self harming space. Contact your safe person, right away. See a doctor, and get a referral to a shrink. Keep on seeing shrinks until you find one who listens to you and respects you.

3. Hallucinations

If you’re experiencing hallucinations, whether auditory or visual or other, get help. Healthy people don’t generally have hallucinations. Never follow the instructions given to you by an hallucination, always seek help. Contact your safe person immediately if you can see or hear anything that’s just not there. Tell your doctor, so they can help you find a path to a healthy mind.

4. Extreme High, Fast, Elated Moods

If you’re having super-moods that make you feel as high as a kite, unstoppable and smarter than the average bear, get help. Go to a doctor, explain your moods and let the doctor be the one to decide if you’re having manic episodes. Mania is often described as feeling euphoric, but it can also make you feel really angry, really agreeable, really willing to spend money or sexually unbeatable. Contact your doctor, definitely. Listen to your doctor, and if it makes you more comfortable, take your partner or a good friend to the doctor with you. I know that sometimes it feels safer that way.

5. Deep, Dark, Depression

If you’re depressed, go to your doctor and get help. Never ignore depression, it’s a nasty little bitch and it can try to make you its slave. I just want to say it again; if you’re depressed, go to your doctor and get help. They have a huge range of treatments for depression now, from meds and therapy to meditation, happiness training and a load of other non-traditional methods. Go get help. Truly, go do it. xx

These are my top 5, but there are other things in your life that can be definite indicators that you need to get some help from a safe friend or a doctor. Feel free to add anything I’ve missed, in the comments, so I can include it in another post.

take care,

be you xx Rachel

Losing Weight, Bipolar Style

I’ve just realised something about my many attempts to lose weight in the past six years; every time I decide to lose weight, I’m in a manic state. This means I’m pumped, excited, ready to exercise and eat right and conquer the world. As soon as the depression or mixed state kick in, I immediately lose the momentum and completely give up. This is a huge aha moment for me.

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I’ve joined a gym a few times and in my normal or manic state I can really enjoy the gym. Of course as soon as my mood shifts to depression or mixed state, the Social Phobia accompanies it and I have no ability to leave the house, and I want to eat all day long.

It all seems so obvious now, but I had no way of understanding this before. So, and I’m just thinking out loud here, I have the usual amount of human inertia about eating healthily and exercising, with the added difficulty of unpredictable, uncontrolled mood shifts. Give me a break.

I’m wondering if I can create a plan that shifts with the moods? Sounds revolutionary, but that could be my current manic state speaking. One plan for each of my four states, and I act accordingly each day. The speed at which I cycle between moods could be an issue; at times I can experience four states in one day.

I’m going to work on this and get back to you. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe it’s a book in the making. Maybe I’m all hyped up on manic endorphins?

be you xx Rachel

Where I Talk About Bipolar and Writing About Real Life

Hi, my name is Rachel and I’m Bipolar. I know a lot of people hate labels. I’ve heard a few people say things like ‘I’m not Bipolar, I have Bipolar’. Fair enough for them, and I do get their point, but I have to say that right now I always find myself saying I AM Bipolar.

free candle

When I say this I don’t mean that Bipolar is the only thing I am, of course. Bipolar is what I have found myself to be, to suffer from, to struggle with, every fracking day of the year. I can breathe so much more easily now, knowing I am Bipolar. I have over a hundred online friends who are also Bipolar, who I relate to in a way that I’ve never related to anyone before in my whole life. I really get their struggles, I totally understand their pain. I know how it is to be so depressed you can’t see any lights in any tunnels, there’s just hot, deep, black. I know how it is to be a million miles up, high as a kite, without any drugs, just high on manic life, making bad choices, saying stupid stuff, promising things you will never be able to follow through on.

Spending 47 years trying to find out what the hell is wrong inside my own head, made me yearn for the right label. Not telling any of the shrinks that I was depressed and suicidal for over 20 years turned out to be a barrier to that. Who knew? I thought suicidal depression was normal, or irrelevant or so similar to one of my close family members that it could pretty much be expected.

Becoming aware of my Bipolar has not boxed me, it has somehow released me. I know that must sound weird, but I’ve always tried to find out how to act ‘normal’ while my mind did the rollercoaster thing. Now, I find myself not trying to ‘be normal’ at all. I’m being me, and part of me is that I am Bipolar. Wow, feels so great to say it, own it, know it, and be able to find ways to cope with it.

I’ve started writing in a completely different way than ever before. I’m a copywriter by trade, and I have 5 unpublished book manuscripts of my own in my bookcase, but this time I’m writing the stuff that matters most to me. I’m thinking this will make it either much more tempting to want it published or the complete opposite and even more likely to be shoved into the back of a drawer.

Whatever happens to my raw, core-self writing, it feels very liberating to pour that stuff out on the page. I’m closely connected to these words in a way I’ve never been connected to my writing before. I always wanted to write about normal things, normal people, normal heads.

Now I’m going to write about how normal it is to be Bipolar.

be you xx Rachel

Home Is Where I Hide

I think I’ll be staying inside my house for the rest of my life. I like my house. It’s very old, usually messy and definitely needs renovating to bring it from well-loved/old to quaint/cute. I like it just the way it is, though, which is why I’ve lived here for about six years with no improvements except insulation and air con.

I need fences, though. Nice, high fences. So I can go out in my garden when I’m depressed/social phobic. It would be so nice to be able to tend my veggie garden any day of the week, and not just the ones where my mind isn’t as black and low and paranoid as it can get.