Christmas + mental health

Not another mental health post, some of you may be thinking. Where are the pretty travel pictures and travel stories, others of you may ask.

They’re here. I’ve got them. I cannot wait to share them, but with only nine days to go until Christmas I have something else on my mind.

Mental health. Not mental illness, not mental disorder, and certainly not mental problems. Mental health.

Christmas to my family is incredibly important, we love Christmas. We love being together and cooking and sharing thoughtful gifts, blasting Christmas music and wearing silly hats and telling terrible jokes from our Christmas crackers. My favourite memory of many of my christmases will always be that moment when I simply could not continue, I was full and exhausted, I’d had a day of fun and it was finally time for bed. I will always hear my mum and dad saying Merry Christmas darlin’ as I headed to bed each year. That is my favourite Christmas memory.

The holiday season is not always a happy time for some, for some people it brings with it memories of loss, a time of grieving, feelings of sadness and confusion. For some it means nothing but anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts.

Christmas is hectic. The holidays can be a real trigger for many people out there and we have a responsibility to check in on others.

For one of my friends, she lost her Mother on Christmas Eve. Another lost her best friend to depression on Christmas Day. Some people no longer have anyone to put their tree up with them. There are families who cannot afford to eat. Families without homes. Families doing their best to keep everything together, even though it seems impossible.

My favourite Big Issue vendor in Brisbane, Nathan is someone who stands outside of the 7/11 on Adelaide Street and wishes a Merry Christmas to ever single person who walks past him. I always make the time to stop and ask him how he is and have a chat. December brings with it a lot of hurt and sadness to his life. Not only is he homeless, but he lost his Mother, Step-Dad and his brother in various December’s. Still he wishes you a Merry Christmas. When I see people ignore him or even scowl at him I feel nothing but disgrace for the human race.

Last year, the week before Christmas, Nathan was telling everyone it would be his last week in Brisbane, he was moving to Hervey Bay to be with his son. His happiness was contagious, he hadn’t been that genuinely happy in months. I was silently rooting for him.

When I saw him on that same corner in January, my heart broke for him.

Missing out on the Portman’s dress you wanted for Christmas is not a tragedy. Working Christmas Eve instead of partying with your friends is not sad. Spending Christmas with your family-in-law or annoying Uncle / Cousin / Sibling is not depressing. They are all circumstantial situations.

I want you to enjoy your Christmas, be kind to everyone. Forget misgivings, remove toxic people from your life. Remember the reason for the season and practice kindness. Smile at your Big Issue vendor, if you have $7, buy a magazine. Chat with them. Ask how are you and be ready to listen and to mean it. Be socially aware.

Christmas is not shopping. Christmas is not presents. Christmas is not enduring Christmas with family, it’s an honour.

Christmas is love.

Practice love, always.

Advertisements

Father’s Day – when your Dad is no longer here <3

Today is the eleventh Father’s Day without my Dad and on Thursday it will be the eleventh anniversary since he passed. I almost lock myself into a room the week leading up to Father’s Day. Every t.v ad, social media, shop signs, the radio. It’s everywhere.

Is it Father’s Day for those of us without Dad’s? Guess what? – for all of us out there who don’t have our father’s anymore – its still Father’s Day for our dads too.

Dad. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. Thank you for being my hero and warrior when I was little. Thank you for giving me your height and confidence, but not so much for the skin and feet.

Thank you for teaching me how to ride a bike on the cricket pitch when I was 5, and how to read a clock/watch when I was 6. Thank you for teaching me the art of telling stories and having a laugh.

Thank you for showing me how important family is, it took us a while but my sister and I are now the very best of friends.

Dad, thank you for instilling in me pride for being Australian, for being tall and for looking different to others. I miss you saying “pacifically” instead of specifically, I miss how cranky you would get when you would bust us cheating at monopoly.

My brother has so many of your traits. As does my sister. But I got your looks. I have your tenacity, Irish-Australian temper, stubbornness and confidence but I also share your fears and concerns for the world. How DO we keep our loved ones safe? WHY is the world such a mess? I too am dwarfed by the same things you were.

I have travelled the world, knowing you didn’t get a chance to. I still go for your footy team, I was sad when they stopped making spearmint leave lollies and I laugh whenever I see the classifieds ads. Every now and then I watch a Clint Eastwood movie and eat a cheese and jam sandwich – just for you.

Dad, I love you and miss you. We all do. You were gone too soon. We are doing our best to make you proud of us. I hope you’re happy and although not in person, in your own way watching over us.

Love, your eldest daughter.

Courtney

X

The clouds have cleared and the sun is shining.

Today marks one month since I changed my medication. I started Lovan on 17 August 2017, after a five day break of no medication between coming off of Mirtazapine cold-turkey.

When I first started Lovan, I caught a cold and was a little worried as I initially thought I was having some reaction (itchy throat and eyes) to the new medication. It turns out it was just a common cold though.

I took the pills for a week and a bit and had my next GP follow up on 25 August 2017. I was feeling more positive, more in control, less clouded by anger, anxiety, rage and paranoia. I understand this is not all medication, as it takes longer than that to kick in – I DO however believe there was an evidenced change from stopping the Mirtazapine, starting the Lovan and generally feeling as though I was in charge of my mental health.

For the two first weeks, whenever I would lose my concentration or feel out of sorts (forgetful or teary), I would remind myself that I was doing the best I could and that I was ‘taking charge of my mental health’, it became my little mantra.

By the third week I was really feeling better. I was less paranoid, I wasn’t suspicious, I was not crying as much. Not finding fault in the actions of others. I was looking at my Husband with clarity and love which I used to look at him with.

I knew the biggest test of all was coming, the anniversary of my Father passing, it was always a tough time of the year for me. Which I have now written extensively about in my previous few posts. Surprisingly, when the anniversary rolled around – I took the day off of work, looked through some old photos and cherished positive and nice memories of Dad. I did have a little cry in the morning but I was not distraught like I normally am.

We then headed off on a ten day holiday, which we returned from yesterday, Our holiday was so relaxing, I read books, ate good food, went swimming and re-connected with my Husband. It felt truly wonderful.

I head back to work tomorrow, which is always sad but I have to be honest – I have only cried once or twice in the past week and a half and it was once when I was thinking about our wedding anniversary coming up (happy tears) and once when we were listening to our wedding playlist whilst getting ready to go out on our holiday.

I have really decided to pay attention to my mental health, to listen to my feelings and to lend my ears to those who need help. The journey is not over, it will never be over, however I do feel as though the fog is clearing & I am going to do my very best to be more in tune with my loved ones.

I am forever grateful to those who have read along here and supported me along the way. Much love to you all x

And after the past 18 months of torment, it was truly magical to shed happy tears.

Lucy

x

I’ve been lying to my loved ones. Which was okay….until it wasn’t.

Some days I kick serious arse. I knock being a Wife/Lover/Friend out of the park, I am acutely aware of my friends and families troubles, I can offer advice around the clock, I am there for everyone above the capacity I would normally think it humanly possible. I am the best employee, a great daughter and a best friend. I am engaging, mature, educated and confident. This can go for a day, a few days, a week or sometimes (though rarely…) an entire month.

But then, it hits me. I can’t get out of bed, I don’t go to work. If I am at work, I may as well not be. I become agitated at everything, I start small arguments for no reason…I have my “spikes out” as my Mum described my aura in those moments. I don’t answer texts, I can’t even shave my legs, let alone wash my hair.

I am haunted by melancholia. I don’t think that is too strong of a word for the situation, because I feel nothing but deep and persistent sadness and dread. Like I am covered with the heaviest, darkest and wettest blanket of sadness and hopelessness.

It’s f*cking awful when I feel that way. I have no idea how it makes my friends/family/Husband feel.

The last few months, I have had some low moments, a few high moments – but in general – mostly stayed along the baseline of any personality test.

The last two months I have lied and said I was busy, cancelled plans because I was busy, avoided spending the night at my Mum’s house when I went to visit (it is a four hour return drive and I still could not stay overnight), because I was busy and not picked up phone calls/responded to text messages, because I was…busy.

I have been busy fighting irrational thoughts, been busy breathing, I have been busy compartmentalising my thoughts and been busy taking a moment/s to myself. I have kept myself busy cleaning my house, cleaning my heart and cleaning my mind. I was busy silencing the pecking crows in my brown, busy trying to keep the negative Nancy’s at bay and been busy trying to regulate my heartbeat.

Mostly I have been busy putting me first.

I have missed a stack of parties, an engagement party, a wedding, two concerts, one going away party and an opportunity to see a friend who has been living in Dubai for two years. Bad friend, huh?

I flipped my own life on its head – I stopped sharing. I have made a conscious effort not to rant and rave via text/phone/in person whenever something or someone upsets me. Obviously this is a lesson I should have learned years ago, I am in my thirties after all…HOWever I am getting a grasp of it now. In the best possible way in which I can.

This week I lost control. I lost control big time. I found myself uncontrollably crying for three days. Not small crying. You’ve seen my last post. That was something so dark, I haven’t had it in years.

My Husband found me crying in the shower. Almost catatonic with grief. Overwhelming sadness.

I had to be honest with myself. What could be causing this? Is it the anniversary of my Father passing, or is it something else?

It is probably too much for one post. My break down was on Tuesday/Wednesday. The rest of the week was rough. It’s now Saturday night. I might leave it for now.

But please. PLEASE. Don’t be silent. If it’s more than relaxing/having “me” time or just taking a minute. If your silence is drastically different to your personality. If you’re having thoughts which are dark and potentially threatening to your health and wellbeing. Pick up the phone. Speak up. Ask for help. Do not suffer in silence.

I will share more of my story shortly. I am not sure if anyone is reading, but I think for my own mental health I need to document this.

Wishing you all a happy, kind and loving weekend.

Lucy

X

 

 

Grief: Even when I know what’s coming, I’m never prepared for how it feels.

Grief. It’s a bastard of an emotion. I’m currently on my commute to work (read: public transport of all methods), and I’ve spent the entire journey crying. 

Those hot, heavy, sorrow filled tears. I am sorry if you know the tears I am talking about. They rarely come with anything less than destructive and devastating memories. 

Thank goodness for dark sunglasses and everyone else absorbed with their phones, otherwise this would be spectacle. 

Ten years ago, everyone around me would have noticed. Ten years ago people read books on the bus and texted. We weren’t completely absorbed by our phones. Today I am thankful for the destractiob. I too can be lost in my phone. Ten years ago (almost…) we lost our Father. Our families Husband, Father to three and friend to all died. 

Our father had been ill for some time, but this is not what took him. Which was so cruel as he had worked so hard to fight his sickness for so long. To then die after a routine procedure in hospital – 1200km away from his family. I can’t imagine. 

Yes. It has almost been ten years. So why am I sitting on a bus today crying? Why have I spent the last three days crying? 

I have this every year as it approached the date. Every year. However today and this week, I am less in control than I normally am. 

My heart hurts. My soul is aching. For ten years I have fought to keep my head above water, me and mine. My small family. Just the four of us. Fighting to keep going, fighting to stay above the water. Fighting the world. Fighting each other. Hurting. 

It’s a cruel twist of fate that the anniversary of dad’s passing is always the same week as Father’s Day, here in Australia. How f*cking cruel is that? The first anniversary was ON Father’s Day. 

All else aside – I seem to have lost my strength. I’ve hit this ten year mark and I’m out of steam. I’m so desperately sad. I miss him. He wasn’t at my wedding. He hasn’t met his grandchildren. So many life events. I am crying not for me but for him. You aren’t meant to die at 50. I know plenty of people do – and I guess I have always used this as a coping mechanism. 

He had a good life. 

People die much younger. 

We loved him and he knew that. 

I had a great childhood. 

Etc. 

It’s not helping this week. My sadness is palpable. Breathing hurts. When my alarm went off this morning I started crying again. When I showered last night the water was so hot that all I could think was “did they use warm water when they washed dads body? Did they wash it?”. That’s morose I know. Here I am though. 

So what do I do? How do you deal with long-term grief? Why has it hit me now? Is it the ten – year mark? Does life-healing work? Where do I go? Who can actually help with this?

Please help me. If you know how I should try to deal with these feelings (psychologist?, kineseologist?, yoga?). I don’t know. 

Sending love & thanks. M

Lucy

X

Today is tricky…

These last two weeks I have not been very kind to myself. I’ve been really hard on myself and I can’t seem to pull myself out of my funk. 

The weather is changing here in Australia so the mornings are darker, meaning I’m neglecting the gym. I could go in the afternoon but I’m normally so wrecked from work I just want to come home and see my husband. 

I can’t quite motivate myself to get my arse into gear. It’s Wednesday and we know Wednesdays are hard already! 

So I’m asking for some advice – how do you pull yourself out of a funk! What motivates and encourages you to put yourself first?

Please send help :).

Lucy

X