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

Borderline and Humankind and A Fear Of Dying of Fear

I want to say Human Phobia and not Social Phobia. Social Phobia just sounds too neat and tidy, too soft somehow. I’m not only phobic about social situations, and the words Social Phobia don’t begin to describe just how extremely my Human Phobia impacts my life.

rk anthrop

Yes, I have Human Phobia. In the same way my friend has an immediate, extreme stress reaction at the thought of being in a room with a spider, so, too, do I have an extreme stress reaction at the thought of being in a room with a human. The correct term is anthrophobia. Ha, my spellcheck wants to fix that word, because it doesn’t recognise anthrophobia. No matter what you call it, I have it. I am sitting here after a horror week of human contact that could not be avoided after my cat decided to go play in the traffic. He is home now, one less leg and already up to mischief.

Dealing with the vet staff almost ended me. Truly, I felt like I was going to die. Every one of the people I dealt with were lovely, kind, caring animal lovers. All of them spoke kindly, politely, nicely. My Human Phobia doesn’t care about that. When my friend is confronted by a spider, he doesn’t have to be touching it, or even too close to it, to be freaked out and run away. Luckily for him, despite a little bit of man-shame on his part, his suffering ends there. Keep away from the scary thing, remove yourself from horror causing thing, all good. Human Phobia is different. Run away from humans and what is the general reaction? Humans want to come after you, call you, text you, email you, visit you, to help you. How can I ever make people understand that after contact with humans I need time alone? How can I explain that during this time alone I will feel desperately lonely? How dumb is that?!

If it scares you, run away from it. If it chases you…? If humans scare you, it must be because you haven’t been with the right humans? If humans scare you, you can get over that with therapy, meds, or religion. Sorry, I’ve tried it all. The meds help with a lot of my Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms, but nothing has ever cured my human phobia.

So, sorry humans, I hope you understand that I love you, I need you, I want to want to be with you, but it will only be once in a blue moon, when hell freezes over, that I seek you out AND don’t regret it. It’s not you, it’s me. Truly, it is me. Just know that on the occasion that I enjoy your company because I had the courage to see you AND my head didn’t mess things up for me, I am incredibly happy, over the moon happy, grateful beyond measure. The few friends I have left are true friends, truly loving people who don’t care how many times I cancel on them, because they understand and they love anyway.

be you xx Rachel

*please forgive me if my grammar is a little off. This content describes issues which are really emotive for me.

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

It’s Really Hard To Write Today

It’s really hard to write today.

My life is choc a block full of…

I am trying to be positive…

I don’t know how to handle all of the things that are happening…

I’m tired of being positive and coping with life with a mental illness, and now I have a shocker of a new diagnosis; cervical cancer. Tests, multiple doctor and specialist visits, biopsy, god only knows what next because I have to wait another week to find out what stage the cancer is at and what treatment I need. Not a happy camper.

be you xx Rachel

Writing A Novel One Day At A Time

I’m writing my new novel, hoping that this will be the book I get published. So far, I’ve only been setting myself up to write, really; organising my initial thoughts about what my main character is like, blocking out some chapter ideas and possible directions for the flow of the story. Writing a first chapter to get the feel of the voice I’ll use.

eavesdrop 6

I am the kind of writer who doesn’t know what’s going to happen until I write it.This works very well for me, and keeps my excited about the book all the way to the last word. Sometimes it means I have to go back and rewrite entire sections of the book, because the freedom I allow myself can take me in new and completely unexpected directions. The funny thing is that when I read back over my writing, I can hardly see where I stopped one day and started the next. I find this amazing. My moods can be so radically different from even hour to hour, but my writing stays fairly well on course.

My daily task is to write 2000 words, and I aim to start writing in the morning and not stop until I have my word count. Some days it takes two hours and some days it takes much longer, but I find that if I make my goal a word count, I can distract myself very efficiently from the self questioning and doubts.

My tried and true, best ever trick to ward off what they call ‘writers block’ is to sit at my laptop and type these words; It’s really hard to write today because… and then I keep on with that, listing every single thing that is pulling at me to prevent me from writing that day.

Some days I write pages of reasons why it’s so hard to write, and other days I write just a phrase that encapsulates my not-writing mood so well, it propels me into a writing head-space. I think this habit is almost a meditation. My inner writer knows with certainty that we are sitting here to write, and write we will, so let’s get writing the story.

Of course there are times when I need to pause and reflect, ponder, muse, stare into space and let the possible paths of the story play out in my imagination. This is completely essential to the process of writing a solid first draft. Also, I keep a notebook and pen with me at all times, because thoughts will come to me at any time of the night or day, informing my choices about plot, characterization, theme. I can be having coffee with someone and they’ll say something that totally answers a question I had about the story.

A writing mentor told me years ago that I have a very organic process. This is such an awesome way of saying I do whatever I want in my process, as long as it writes the book. I’ve written a whole book sitting up in bed, a few hours each morning. That one took me 13 weeks. I wrote another book with my laptop on my lap, watching cartoons each day. That one took 9 weeks.

This book I think I’ll be writing right here, on my cheap little laptop table on wheels, in my living room, probably watching a lot of DVDs like Law and Order, Six Feet Under, and The Mentalist.

My psychiatrist encouraged me to write. Some of the most prolific writers in the world have struggled with mental illness. Writing is certainly the only thing I’ve ever found in my life that I can do, no matter where my head is at. It’s my refuge. Published or not, I’m enjoying being back in a book again. It’s such familiar territory. I’m truly looking forward to seeing what my characters do next.

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