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One of my twenty for 2020 is to blog everyday. Hence the title of this blog post, I’m going to count down, or up, as we go through the year. I got into bed last night on New Years’ Day, and thought “Damnit”, so you’re gonna get two today…

We’ve spent the past week and a bit on the Mornington Peninsula. I was looking online to see if I could book the Air BnB that we used at the beginning of 2019, but I couldn’t get the dates to match up with the Christmas shut-down at work (more on that later). The next morning, R rang me and said she and her family were off to Fiji for a month, did we want to use her house?

Ten minutes away from the cousins.

Yes please.

So we packed up, including the cat, and drove down. We then drove back again, minus the cat, to go to the Boxing Day test, Archie and I left at lunch, then headed back to the Peninsula. Cat very happy to see us and we’ve been here ever since.

As normal, we’ve not done everything we’ve planned to, but we’ve done other things. The jigsaw is mostly done, but we’re struggling with the sky, so many blues! The beach has been hit a couple of times, but we’ve relaxed, unwound and spent quality time together, which is what we needed.

Yesterday we drove to Sorrento and got the ferry over to Queenscliffe. We mooched through the town, walked up to Helen’s chair and spent some time reflecting on both Hubs’ mum and Erika.

Six months ago she passed, it still feels like she should be on the end of a call or a message.

Ian and I have spoken nearly every week since then, for which I’m grateful. One of the things I want to do this year is to share what I’m feeling, when I’m struggling, more often. I don’t reach out to people often enough. I seem to know when people need to talk to me, and expect that intuition from others. Doh.

I’ve not finished my Twenty for 2020 list off completely, mainly because as the year unfolds, I want to have room for actions and additions.

This year will be the year I stop drinking though. The past few months of funk has seen me drink more than nights than not, not quite to oblivion, but on the edge of it.

One thing I wanted to do by the beach was to press pause and reset on what I wanted. I feel a long walk by the beach is in my future today. I need to sit and let stuff come to surface.

[Point to note, if the blog posts are numbered, they will be free-form and unedited. If there is anything specific I want to talk about (rant over), I’ll put a title up ok?]

I’ve just cleared my beach visit with Hubs, when I’ve finished my coffee I’ll head off.

The job I started six months ago closes the office down, which I wasn’t that happy about when I first heard about it. I had to go into a negative balance to take a week off work to head over to the UK for Erika’s funeral. I’d just about accrued a week back again, to have to use it for the shut-down. I’ve got no buffer for any appointments, catastrophes or life in general. For the first time in my life, I will be purchasing an additional two weeks leave so I don’t have to worry about having enough time for stuff to happen.

Because stuff happens.

History is just one damned thing after another.

Winston Churchill

Ain’t that the truth.

Other stuff I’ve done over the week is review who I follow on social media, what podcasts I listen to and am umming and ahing over what books to read over the coming year. I did so well with my reading in 2018, I wanted to hit 2019 with reading 100 books. One thing I learnt last year, when I’m depressed or overwhelmed, I now can’t read. I stuff my head into my phone and ignore the world that way. Mind you, I have been known to just read and re-read Mapp and Lucia to avoid life too.

(See what I mean about I need to let whatever needs to come up, come up?)

Listening to the Daily Stoic podcast Ryan Holiday suggested that instead of trying to hit a number of books, why not try to delve deep. To not read widely, but to read deeply, to come to know the authors as though I’d lived with them.

Reading of many books is distraction.

Seneca

I’m going to get twelve books from Book Club, but I’m going to have a think about what ten-fifteen other books I want to read this year, to deep read; not skim over to get to a number. What am I trying to prove?

Well, that’s the story of my life right there. Proving my worth to others. Instead of being happy with who and what I am.

On that note, I’m off to the beach.

On Toy Story 4

Last week, family movie night on DVD was Toy Story 4. Archie had seen it with his Team Kids holiday program when it was out at the cinema earlier this year, but we didn’t go to see it with him. I must admit, from when they announced another full-length version, I was worried about watching it. Toy Story itself is one of my favourite movies and the trilogy itself is perfect. The little shorts work as you get to visit with the characters; pop in, laugh like drains, pop out again.  

There was absolutely no need to make it, other than $$$ obvs. I can’t say I hated it, but I really wish I hadn’t watched it. Because it has now highlighted to me issues that I’d not picked up in the trilogy. In no particular order:

  • I really didn’t like Bo Peep; and not just because she felt the need to put a cape on before she did anything #NoCapes
  • While I did like Giggle McDimples, using the sound from PT Flea bouncing around wrankled.
  • Watching the trailer after the movie implied that all the toys were in it together; but Buzz in particular was hardly an equal character to Woody going off on his own. And as soon as we saw the doll, I thought here we go, its Lotso and to a lesser extent, Stinky Pete, all over again.
  • I laughed like a drain at Ducky and Bunny, then Buzz trying to work out how to get the key; and the RV bit at the end.
  • I enjoyed Duke Caboom, although as Keanu Reeves also did a hilarious send up of himself in Always Be My Maybe, that one is definitely not suitable for children!. Mind you, his posing on the bike only made me think of Robin in The Lego Batman Movie.
  • How many easter eggs can you put into one movie? Answer, all of them.

I’m trying not to pick holes in it, but five days later – I’m still cross with myself for not listening the little voice that said “Don’t!” Laughing at some of it hasn’t outweighed the overall feeling of disappointment in it.

Le sigh.

October Thoughts

I started this year full of hope and dreams. Excited about my surgery – planning to recuperate, recover and smash out a half marathon as a goal to keep me motivated. I wanted to read 100 books this year too.

I guess you had other plans for me.

Like learning patience, compassion, kindness. To myself and others.

I got back to work after my surgery, just in time to leave for a new role. I stood in front of colleagues with a prepared speech highlighting the friends I’d made through working with a buffet of people; but Erika had just gone into hospital and already, her prognosis was slipping. The only way I got through that speech was to mention her in passing. Because if I shared just how important she was to me, I’d never get through it. A few short weeks later, I’d have to go into more detail about the depth of our friendship, standing beside her casket. Aged P and Wiz holding my hands.

Since then, Erika and I have had a couple of chats. She shows up mostly through music, poking me to remind me she’s there on the radio. But drifting off one night late last week, I asked for her forgiveness for not being there for her when she was at her lowest. I said that I hoped that by looking after Ian, she’d be able to forgive me for not realising how low she was. A few days later, Imagine Dragons On Top Of The World played in Coles; this was the song that was playing as I boarded the plane in Melbourne to fly back to the UK. Followed by Roxette, The Look which seems to be the claxon call for Ian and I that Erika is playing around with the radio ago.

You can read what you want into anything. But if my phone has been linked to the car and I’ve been playing a podcast, if I’ve swiped up and closed off the app music will start to play, on random. There have been times I’ve reversed out the driveway and collapsed into giggles, other times I’ve had to hurriedly press ‘next’ lest I start weeping. If I carry on listening to music; all the while it’s apparently on random, unless I get the message and acknowledge it, another song from the same artist or album comes on until I do.

Like Barbra Streisand’s album Guilty Too. That album was my soundtrack to recovery from separation. I’d play it in Mon Bears’ spare room as I decluttered my life; bags of possession going down the stairs and off to charity. On Thursday last week, I’d skip one song from the album then another one would come on. In the end, I just gave up and listened to the whole album from start to finish. When that was finished, I put it back on random for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to pop up with By The Way.  

By the way, I tried to say
I’d be there, waiting for …

Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Loud and clear darling girl. Loud and clear.

Since I had the flu, I’ve had to stop. Rest. Go to bed early. Recuperate. My reading has increased, head in my phone decreased. Won’t be many more memes coming on my timelines as I’ve left Imgur behind me. In the past few weeks I’ve read two books, one in two sittings. Slowly I’m inching back to myself. Coming full circle to reading, exercising and eating better.

Recognising no matter if it is gluten free, if I have too many carbs, my IBS will flare up and I’ll be ‘noisy’ she said enigmatically.

Recognising if I have alcohol, the wave of self-loathing that follows is not worth the numbing of whatever I was trying to avoid. Eight days sober and counting. I’m sleeping better, my skin is less flushed, I feel lighter in myself too. I’ve still got to work through whatever I’m avoiding, but I’m not scared of what that will be now.

I am more scared of me drinking.

I know that even though I’m not going to read 100 books this year, or complete the half marathon. I’ve done much more, something intangible.

I’ve learnt to love myself, forgive myself for some foibles and mistakes and be accepting of what I can’t change.

Dear Uterus

It’s been six months since you left me. Or I left you. Either way, you went up in flames in a medical incinerator, for which I’m glad. You were the bane of my life for around thirty years and I fought so hard to have you severed from my body.

So how am I doing? Pretty damn good actually. Although, all the self-care I spent revving up to get rid of you; was undone by a bereavement wobble, meaning the sober start to the year went out the window. And all the carbs I’d also cut carefully out my life, sped back in again.

Here I sit, probably the heaviest I’ve ever been, but for the first time in a month – thank you flu. I’m fizzing with energy, which was what I was like immediately after surgery.

Tomorrow, after a nachos meal with the boys tonight, I’m off carbs. And the booze. Again. Part self-medication and part self-medication – I need to work out what I’m avoiding dealing with. I had a couple of nights on my own last week, and funked sitting there in silence to let it bubble up.

I am fed up of hiding.

Six months out, three and a half since Erika died, she visited me this week; shook me up and out of myself. It’s time I put me number one again. Maybe over the coming eight weeks, I’ll understand why I go so far, then self-sabotage. Wonder why I feel I’m not worthy of looking after myself consistently.

It’s a recognised part of depression, not taking care of yourself. But after my epiphany when I was barfing the other week and I realised that actually, I didn’t want to die. Despite another part of my brain telling me that it would be easy to fall down the stairs with vertigo, it’ll be an ‘accident’.

Here we are uterus, a line in the sand. Nachos and red wine blow out. I’m officially fully recovered from my surgery where you were dragged out my body. Aside from the odd leak when I sneeze, because to be fair you were a lot bigger than you had any right to be *cork popping* I’ve had no other issues.

There are three months left of this decade. I’m going to use them to my advantage, and hope that the orange cheeze-weasel doesn’t blow us all up in the interim…

Stream of consciousness. Typos are mine….

Night Cafés

I listened to the Sam Jones Off Camera podcast with Patton Oswalt last week. Patton has talked in the past about Night Cafés; a room that you walk into, that you walk out of as a different person.

It intrigued me, so I thought about what mine would be, so in the order they came to me:

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, by Joseph Wright of Derby. This painting I first saw in the National Gallery when I was a teenager. It’s massive, the figures are almost life size, which until you see the painting you can’t get from any reproduction of it. The painting was also discussed in an Open University course, the one I met the first husband on. Hence the Night Café.

A Passage To India, this movie broke me open when I watched it. So much so, I’ve never been able to watch it again.

Pride & Prejudice, the book and the BBC adaptation with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. The book is glorious and I re-read it every year. The BBC version is the definitive version for me, I know that Keira Knightley was the same age as Elizabeth Bennett when that version was made, but trying to squeeze such a dense book into a movie is hard work.

Local Hero, I adore this movie. It’s part of my fabric of being. Quotes are part my lexicon and vernacular;

“You’ll never get two sheep in the back of a Maserati”

“I’ll make a good Gordon, Gordon”

“Did you cook my rabbit?”

“IT’S GONE RED ALL OVER!”

Surrender The Pink, Carrie Fisher #OurPrincess. I love all her books, but this one in particular was the one that resonated loudest with me. I typed a whole lot of stuff here, but then deleted it – as it was way too personal… I will say though, I still have car-parking karma.

Graceland, Paul Simon’s album.

Tubular Bells II, Mike Oldfield. Although, if The Bell catches me in the wrong mood with Alan Rickman narrating, it can make me weep. I particularly like the track Tattoo, there’s a version shown on BBC2 (I think) from Edinburgh Castle, with John Gordon-Sinclair narrating, but all those bagpipes – oh my.

Lady Antebellum, particularly the song We Owned The Night. For a 3:16 minute song, it’s one I can listen to over and over.

Wall·e My favourite Pixar movie. Not recommended to watch while pregnant, you may be a blubbering mess for hours.

Likewise with The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. Both amazing movies, both based on novels / novellas by Stephen King, both featuring actors at the top of their game.

Possession, AS Byatt. I can’t tell you how much I love this book.

Mapp and Lucia, EF Benson. My comfort blanket, my constant.

That’ll do, but there will probably be more – what are your Night Cafés?

Always look on the bright side

I’m sitting up in bed, listening both to the rain and the birds singing in the gum tree and acacias outside our house. The magpies visit daily, singing and chattering to us, the cat chatters back. (I put the link in for the UK / USA peeps as the birds are called the same, but are so different. The warble is lovely, and our pair come when they’re called to hang out).

I’m making a concerted effort to sit upright as much as I can today. I’m also revving up for a long hot shower, but I’m waiting till the boys get back from hockey before I have it. I’m not as unsteady on my feet as I was, but I’m still a bit worried I’ll fall over.

I’m trying to find the positives in this.

I spend my life propping others up, checking in, cheering on. I’m not and don’t think I am all ‘woe is me’ – I’m just trying to show what’s going on in my life. The only way we are going to get through life is to walk beside each other. If you feel I overshare, or whinge or complain. That’s fine, tell me.

We’re all adults FFS, we’re not in the school yard anymore.

Hubs has asked I don’t share as much on Facebook. I told him, ok, but I’m not going to dial back on the mental health stuff though. That shit is important.

So I’ve “gone fishing”. I’ll push photos through to FB from Instagram. I’ve also ticked a box that means you can’t see when I’m online, so I can wander around in my groups and reply to messages on my time.

I’ve also had a big cull and blocked others, because I am done.

I wear my heart on my sleeve; always have, always will. If you don’t like it, that’s fine; I don’t have to like the stuff you do either. That’s the joy of being an adult.

But like I said, I’m looking out for the positives. I’ve only had the flu, imagine if it was anything serious? Broken hearts take a long time to heal, but you come out stronger.

what a week

The fork in the road

Buckle up people. You’re in for a ride. This is about Black Dog and mental health…

I had a fever for three days in late August. I got better, although Hubs stayed home to take me to the GP on one day as I felt so awful with it, he was worried about me driving.

I got better, but was sniffly, put it down to hay fever and dug out my antihistamines and soldiered on.

I did the Bloody Long Walk for Mito, 35km. My left foot was sore at about 32km, but at that distance, we just soldiered on. We got bused to the start line; but at the finish line, we had to get a tram back to the City. All up I did nearly 50,000 steps that day. I got into bed when I got home for a nanna nap.

DOMS set in good and proper, I was hobbling like John Wayne, popping anti-inflammatories and paracetamol to get through the next couple of days. Still snuffling.

My DOMS subsides, my foot is still sore so strap it up and head back to the GP on Wednesday night, second visit in two weeks. She pokes it, I don’t scream, we don’t think it’s broken, but I have an x-ray referral just in case I need it.

Thursday night, my nose starts running like a tap. Friday morning, my throat is scratchy and sore. I post about disdaining the person so hard who gave it to me on Facebook.

Friday afternoon, my foot is really, really sore; I book an x-ray appointment at the hospital near work. Still snuffly and sneezing. I get the x-ray done and head home for an early night.

Saturday morning, my body says stop. Just stop.

Tuesday this week, day four in bed, I call the GPs office and get the last available appointment of the day. Third visit in three weeks. Tim looks me over and say well done on getting your ‘flu jab this year otherwise you’d be ‘properly poorly’. I say I wonder what that looks like as I’m feeling terrible.

I’ve got a secondary infection in my sinuses; of course I have. I get a script for antibiotics, and manage to take two doses before bed.

Wednesday morning, I get up out of bed and nearly fall over. I’ve got so much congestion in my head, it’s now affecting my balance. I steady myself and go about getting the morning underway.

Archie wants breakfast in bed with me so we can chat together in the morning, I bring the tray in, lay down next to him and my whole vision is disrupted, I’m hanging on to the bed so I don’t fall off it. I start to feel sea-sick with it too.

When I can move, I sit back upright. This is not good. Hubs had an early start, so was already out the house. All I’ve got to do is get Arch to school. We finish off our morning jobs, teeth, hair, reading. and I get him up the hill. Come back home, prop myself up on pillows and settle into Midsomer Murders on the Netflix.

I get lunch, tidy that away and then settle down for a nap in the afternoon. I get up and fall out of bed. I then start being sick. When I’m done, I try to get back into bed, but keep falling over. I’m stuck on the bathroom floor, sobbing. What do I do now? I text Hubs, then call him, then text him. I text two friends I used to work with. Message another friend I know is in the office, can she page the other two?

I’m still being sick every time I move. The floor rocking and rolling underneath me. I’m crying, snot, vomit. It ain’t pretty. Hubs calls me back, we agree I need help. I call 000 and ask for an ambulance. Not something you do lightly in Australia as it will cost you >$1000, that is one thing that is automatically covered by our inordinately-expensive-for-very-little-reward-health-insurance.

What with one thing and another over the past few weeks, my mood has slipped again. Not badly, but enough for the little depression bastard to start making suggestions to me. Like “You’ve got a balance issue, you could ‘fall’ down the stairs and no-one would know. It would be an accident.”

Here comes my epiphany. I’ve literally got one part of my brain telling me to end it, here’s an easy way out. Handing it to me on a platter. While I’m in the middle of being ill, snot, vomit, sobbing in fear; another part of me. Not my brain, ME. My soul.

“I don’t want you to die”.

me

My phone rings, the health line have called me back to try and work out what’s going on and triage me. We work out I’m not having a cardiac moment, or anything serious; it’s more likely vertigo. She’s going to send an ambulance out to me, it’ll be a little while, but they will have medication to help me feel better.

Fricking vertigo.

I crawl to the doors to open them up, since the burglaries, there’s a screen door on, you ain’t getting through that. I also pull on some yoga pants, I’ve propped myself back in the bathroom with a towel around me when one of my friends calls “I’m on my way” She used to be a nurse, she won’t mind the mess I’m in.

She doesn’t, and when I start bringing up bile, she rubs my back and puts a cold washcloth on my neck. We talk about all sorts of shit, laughing. She gets me some water to my level so I can clean my teeth. I loves her I do. Hubs comes home, they do a handover and she heads back to work.

The ambulance arrives, they give me a wafer to put under my tongue to help with the dizziness and nausea. We go back and forth about me heading to hospital. I’m still not sure I want to go, I’m not that bad after all, I’ve only got vertigo. When he says to me, “You’ll be feeling like you were again all night if you don’t go”, that clinches it.

I’m not going to the inns and outs of the hospital stay, as it’s a big building with doctors in it and that’s not important right now. I was admitted overnight as they were still considering me a fall risk. I’ve been sent home with stemitil that I’ll need to take until more congestion has cleared. If I move my head too quickly, I’m still unsteady on my feet. Bed rest for the rest of the week.

The doctor that discharged me this morning thinks I’ve had the flu for three weeks, the flu jab carried me through, being stubborn carried me through – but my body spoke louder. So I’m listening. I’m stopping, resting and I’m going to find out who it was that told me, audibly. I don’t want you to die.

In all my years of struggling with depression and anxiety, I’ve never had such a clear delineation between it and me. Like Eckhart Tolle’s “I can’t live myself”. It was that big.

I am not my thoughts, you are not yours. Who am I? Let’s find out.