Tag Archive: Friendship


Tough Times, Tough Decisions.

The start of this year has been tough.

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Unexpected expenses, but that’s life, just work more to deal with them. Broken promises, disappointing but life goes on. the weight of additional expectations, but you adjust and step up to the new mark.

Then in the space of less than two weeks I lost one of my regular coping mechanisms and one of my work colleagues committed suicide. Two separate events, both having a profound affect on me.

Life isn’t always easy to compartmentalise and as much as I’d like to treat these things as two completely separate events, from a mental health perspective, that’s not necessarily how it works. They are, by virtue of the fact I experienced both, inextricably linked.

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I have always been open about my own battles with depression and my history of self-harm. I also have people both incredibly close to me and in my wider circle of friends that struggle with/deal with depression and anxiety on a daily basis.

But I also see myself as a strong person. Someone who will stand up for myself, my family, my friends and any underdog who doesn’t seem capable of fighting for themselves. Here though is where I get tripped by one of the quirks of my brain. Because I will fight for others, sometimes I expect those others to fight for me. Why? When they won’t even stand for themselves? I have no idea. It makes no logical sense. That is the way it is though and when they don’t, the little voice in the back of my brain pipes up. ‘Cleary you don’t mean that much to them. Why do you think anyone cares what you are going through?’ Some of you will know that voice I speak of.

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Again logically I know my inner dialogue lies. Knowing that doesn’t stop the room closing in, the clouds blocking out the light, or the quicksand pulling me emotionally down.

Here is where coping mechanisms come in. I run, walk, hit something – any kind of solitary workout. I get lost in a book. Sometimes I just repeat to myself while I am lying there, ‘this too shall pass.’

I have something else though. I have people around me I can reach out to. People who understand, to the limit you can understand, the fucked up nature my headspace.

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Which brings me to my work colleague and their very final actions.

I work in an incredibly high stress job. The number of suicides is staggering. We all know it. We know the mental health stats. We know there are people, even professionals, we can talk to. And yes I have availed myself of that service.

Still this person, this bright shining star, in possession of a uniques and larger than life personality was clearly suffering.

Why? I think it’s probably the biggest question after something like this. Why didn’t they ask for help? Why did they isolate themselves? Also what the fuck we’re they thinking? I wanted to be so angry with her. We weren’t the closest but I still would’ve been there if she’d asked. And I know she had people close to her who are wondering why didn’t she just reach out to me?

The answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know what she was thinking. I don’t know why she didn’t reach out. I don’t know if or why she thought she wasn’t worth helping.

I don know her actions have had a rippling affect on those who’s lives crossed with hers. I do know she will be sorely missed. And I do know thinking about it still makes me cry.

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And so I will say it again, as I have before, if you are struggling for any reason, reach out. Do I need to say it again? Reach out. I will say it as often as I need to. Reach out. You are never alone. There are no easy fixes or quick answers, but there are people who would hate for you to not be in their lives anymore.

Of course things sometimes aren’t that simple. Sometimes the people you expect to support you don’t. For what ever reason. Which brings me to point two, but before I get there, remember don’t give up and don’t believe the lies. One set back isn’t the end of things.

Now this second thing.

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I’ve already talked about coping mechanisms. We all have them. I attended a specific event several times a year as a way of de-stressing. It gave me a sense of belonging, a place to let go and be me. In my regular role, it was a place I thought I was useful and quite frankly, good at. I made heaps of friends, had problems I could solve and then bitch about, and fun moments.

Things though have been changing and I don’t claim to understand why. This last week and a bit though, things have come to a head. I know I was usually in a fortunate position, but I felt I’d worked for it and earned it. It seems this was not the case.

For reasons I do not know I was removed from that position and put somewhere I didn’t want to be. Oh don’t get me wrong, it is another position other people desperately want to be, but not me. I’d done it once because I was told I had to, sure it wasn’t exactly the same but it was similar, and it broke me. Plain and simple I had a mini breakdown.

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I told them this when the move came up this year and I was told that’s terrible, what can we do to help, and where else would you like to be? I  just wanted to go back to my comfort zone, but it seems this was not an option. So my choice was, do something I was pretty certain wouldn’t end well for me, or go into another area to learn something I didn’t want to learn and be isolated from the very people I had gone to see.

I didn’t want to make this choice. I though long and hard about the decision I ended up making. I cried (yes I am stupidly emotional at times, but I’m hardly the only one and I don’t care). I had many internal debates. I overthought. My stress levels went up. The clouds began to close in.

In the end I knew my initial gut reaction was the one I’d have to go with. I had to walk away.

deucesNow this is something I have devoted hundreds of hours of my life and thousands of my dollars on, and I knew I had to walk away.

Support I expected didn’t come.

I don’t know all of what is going on behind the scenes, or in other people’s lives. I still don’t know why I had to make this decision. I just knew I was hurting and it didn’t seem to matter.

Then something happened.

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Support came from unexpected places. Sometimes it’s the people you don’t expect that see things, they see the struggle and understand.

We tell ourselves we should just get over things, deal with things or suck it up. Really that’s not what we need at all. Oh absolutely there are times when those things are all completely valid pieces of advice, but not always.

Sometimes what we need is someone to say – I’m here, what do you need?

The answer isn’t the same for everyone. It could be; ice-cream, a shared laugh, company, a hug or even nothing – because you’ve already done it and I no longer feel alone.

I am very introverted by nature. I love the quiet, home and not being around people, though I can certainly do the opposite. I know though that life is never something we get through alone.

So one door shuts and I’ll have to find another door to open. The ache of the losses will pass and life continues on it’s sometimes not so merry adventure.

For the love of everything, please don’t be afraid to reach for help, it’s there. I know it is. Just maybe not where you thought it would be.

When It All Gets To You

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Today isn’t the best of days, mostly it was fine, then some news came that kind of threw me, but then I’m kind of used to life throwing me curveballs. I had a few moments of fuck it all! I’m done, I’m sick of putting myself out there and getting slapped down. It doesn’t matter if these things are public or been kept quiet enough that the only people who know about it are me and hubby, they still hurt. That is life though, isn’t it, I mean if we’re honest about it all. Sure some people seem to have it all but for most of us life is just a bit of a rollercoaster. I know I will be fine, I may want to give up but in all likelyhood I won’t, I’ll just pick myself up and throw myself back into things. All things considered though, it feels as though today is a good day to share the following that I wrote a little while ago.

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So for consideration…

Not that long ago I was involved in a thing at work that messed me up pretty bad, not physically but mentally. I thought at the time that I was dealing with it fine, I took a mental health day to process it all and then went back to work for the next regular shift 2 days later. Then it all fell apart. I was asked a few questions, received unexpected support and saw anger on my behalf and that shattered through the walls I had put up around my mind. We compartmentalise, it is one of the ways we survive.

I admitted I wasn’t coping, no easy thing even when I’m balling my eyes out at work still trying to protest that there is nothing wrong and with just a few hours off I’d be fine to get back into it. I was lucky, I had support. More than that I had understanding, more than I realised. I work with a lot of really tough people, we have to be to do our job. It’s hard for strong people to admit they need time, help or have cracked, but we need to if we want to do the job for a long time.

I realised very quickly I needed to allow myself the time to work through everything related to the incident and a few other things that had contributed to my mental health issues. I saw a Dr and then booked in my first appointment with a psych. 

There were moments I was fine with the path I was taking but there were also moments when I felt bad, like I was letting people down because I was taking time off work. I needed it. Without question I know I needed it. It took several weeks, Dr’s appointments and a couple of psych sessions. Time is a great healer, but it wasn’t just time, it was also the support I had. 

So here’s what I learnt from this experience: It doesn’t matter how strong we are mentally, it doesn’t make us impervious; admitting we need help is hard but doesn’t make us any less in any way; talking about it to outside people helps with processing that which needs to be worked through; having a support network is important – know who you can reach out to and allow them to come alongside you, support you and make you accountable.

I took my time, then I took my normal leave and did what I do on leave – reading, writing and conventions. Now I feel like I’m about ready to get back into things, except for the part of me that wishes writing could be my normal job, you know the one that pays my bills.

That all aside, the whole point of this is to let you know that sometimes it is hard to ask for help or even accept it but take it from someone who’s been there, do it! It’s not a failing, not a weakness, in fact view it as a strength, because sometimes other people’s strength is just what we need. Sometimes time and help is what gets you back to where you need to be to do that which you are meant to do.

The world needs more of you, just sometimes you don’t need to it alone.

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GISHWHES

So I have just done one of the most amazing things I’ve ever participated in. Why am I posting about this on what is primarily my writing blog? That’s easy, because writers need to experience new things and sometimes step away from the books to clear out the head.

What is GISHWHES? I got asked that a lot over the last little while. In short it is the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen. It was created by an actor as, I believe, a way to do silly things, help charity, change lives and create community. It grew beyond his wildest expectations.

I’ve wanted to do it for a couple of years and so made my mind up that I was going to do it this year no matter what. (Sadly they have said this is the last year, hopefully, and I know I’m not the only one hoping this, they will reinvent it next year). I met someone who had done it before and was happy for me to join her team, a fact for which I was incredibly grateful, as having someone with experience is a good thing.

The best way to do this is to set out to have fun. Teams can be local or international, the competitive teams are international due to the fact challenges have to be done in a variety of locations, though you don’t need to do all the challenges.

Sure I’m a competitive person but I kind of figured first time out let’s not go in thinking you’re going to win. I’m glad I didn’t because that meant I could really focus on what I wanted to get out of it and that was fun, charity work I’d been meaning to do (good intentions however are not as effective with me it turns out as a deadline – that could be the writer in me), and push myself out of my comfort zone.

Now I’m no stranger to pushing my limits and my comfort zone, I am not a sporty person yet I’ve done two Tough Mudders and a Spartan race, both so far outside that zone that Wondered at my sanity. This was a little different and a whole lot sillier. The most insane thing I did was buy an inflatable couch, take it to the beach on a choppy, stormy day and try to surf on it and I did it, I actually got to my feet.The Unicorn Mafia (1).png

I also sat in my hammock in a storm, complete with hail, whilst drinking wine and reading, I wrote a 2000 word essay on the best way to fall pregnant for the 10th time (something I have no experience in, nor any intention to have happen) and then published via twitter at 140 characters at a time. I designed and made silly items, I held up signs of support and strangeness and annoyed my kids. I also got the opportunity to help the homeless and support a women’s shelter, two things that I have been paying lip service to doing for longer than I care to admit.

This event that lasted only a week had me up late at night researching, creating and cursing. It had me up early on my days off doing things I never would have dreamed possible. It has given me a few regrets, I really wish I’d been able to pull off a ballet troupe having a bar fight and bikies on a bouncy castle, and I wish I’d received a response from the cancer support organisation, but you can’t have everything.

What did I get from it though, I’m sure people wonder. Also an easy answer. I got to push myself into places I’ve never been before and it is always good to get yourself out of the rut we often don’t realise we are in, it can bring a refreshing to our lives and allow us to get back into the ‘normal’ with a greater understanding of ourselves and a revitalised attitude. I gained a sense of satisfaction of achieving things I set out to do and from helping others less fortunate than myself. I made friends locally and around the world and became part of a community of people who understands that in unity lives can be changed.

I take from this last week a joy, satisfaction and some incredible memories. I was so tired by the end but I didn’t care. Near the end my hubby said he could see me crashing, and that had nothing to do with cars, or tiredness but to do with the fact I’d interacted with so many, I am not by definition a people person, and so I have spent considerable time, when not at work, over the last few days with my head in a book, someone else or my own. I have a clearer head and a passion to get some more tasks done and write more from the wonderful world I have created in my head. I feel refreshed.

Would I do this again? In a heartbeat. I long for another chance because I think having done it once I have a better understanding of what is required and what I can achieve. Thank you The Unicorn Mafia for allowing me to be part of your team, you’re amazing.

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Long Past Due

So SupaNova was weeks ago and I said I’d write about but somehow I got to here and I haven’t done.
I have been so busy with my writing. Which is a good thing believe me.
Anyway.
The June ‘Nova tour was awesome. It was always going to be, I can’t tell you how many of us were so excited when John Barrowman announced that he was coming. That was a huge draw card, Stan Lee was big for Sydney and that was one reason for me to do the double but seriously John Barrowman was in my top 5 of all time, celebs that I wanted to meet. Was it worth it…
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What do you think?
Seriously though try these for size:IMG_0947

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Yeah I know awesome right!!!

It wasn’t all Barrowman, there were plenty of other awesome people.
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Then there were my Perth pics:
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Of course these people were only part of the reason that ‘Nova is such a big thing for me, the real reason is these guys
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For me ‘Nova has become a group of people I catch up with several times a year, who I have a bunch in common with. They are people who accept that part of me that embraces the fantastical, that wanders through the make believe. I love my weekends with these people.
The best bit is it fuels me.
As a writer there are ebbs and flows in the process. I suppose when you’re a published author you have deadlines to keep you in line. When you’re like me and just working towards that goal there are only self imposed deadlines. And to an extent they work. It can be hard to constantly be self-motivated though and we all need things in our lives that refresh, reinvigorate us. For me acting and ‘Nova fill that roll, though it’s been too long since I’ve been on stage. At the moment I’m refreshed and part of that is to do with ‘Nova, another part is to do with the fact that someone really likes what I’ve written so far and sometimes a positive word is all it takes to ignite a fire under your butt.

Thank you everyone from ‘Nova you are awesome and I hope you know it.

Time To Read

Having time to read has never really been an issue for me, somehow when I have felt like reading there was always time. Of course when I first started in book retail I had much more time to read and so many authors were opened up to me (being able to afford to buy more books certainly helped).

Then with my blog and passion intersecting I was always reading and it was great. I found so many awesome authors, so many wonderful stories to journey into.

Life took another turn and I left book retail behind and started a new career path, part of this new path included three months of what is effectively classroom work. Somehow I simply never realised it would take so much of my time, I was so focused on the end result, more time with my family and to write that I overlooked the time required to get through the first 3 months.

Then I went and added a play into the mix, thinking only of the possibility that it could be my last play in a very long time. That didn’t turn out to be the best decision because that has put so much pressure on me that I probably could have done without. I simply have had very little time to read or write.

Sure I got my short story done on time but the rest I’ve only managed to do bits and pieces of. I also have a new idea floating around in the ether of my mind. You know that place where stories form, coming together and pulling apart until you have enough of an idea to put something down on paper. That at least is a good thing.

In these two months of study I have read maybe 4 books, a huge shock to my system when you consider I was on track to have read a book a day before I started this. So 4 of that size a week was not out of character. Perhaps bearing this in mind you can imagine how happy I feel to have finished a 570 page book in 3 days. It’s a silly thing I know but I feel so good to have accomplished this. Reading inspires the creativity flowing through my being and this is also a good thing.

On the writing front I did write a poem this week. A friend is very sick and it just seemed the right thing to do. The words came it took about an hour  to put it all together and I was very happy with the end result. It’s the first poem I have written in a very long time, she is a special person and for her I felt I had to walk a line between rough humour and emotion. Writing is how I can cope with some things. With all the pressure to get through my course it is still the creative that inspires and encourages me, it levels me out, keeps me sane (though that may be a bit subjective). Writing keeps me going and I know I need it in my life and at times like this it is the small things – a finished book and a written poem, that bring a smile to my face a a touch of satisfaction to my day.