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high tide

the-ring-jpgIf you’ve ever seen the movie The Ring and remember the scene where Naomi Watts is at the bottom of the well and the lid slowly slides across the opening, leaving only an eerie ring of light visible in the darkness, you have some idea of what depression looks like.

Suspended in dark water, a crippling fear of what lies just beneath the surface to drag you under at any moment with only a faint light out of reach miles above you. That’s what depression feels like.

Every now and then you’ll find the strength to claw your way up the slimy walls and out of that well. But there’s always the stench of stagnant water clinging to you, your hands wrinkled from weeks in the water, your eyes clouded from their time in the dark. The fear of falling back down that well never leaves you, it never rests.

To the outside world you might appear aloof, just casually sensitive or only mildly interested in what’s going on around you. It’s just that it takes a lot of attention to fight against the constant tide of water that drains right back to that well. When the tide comes it takes all your energy to swim against it, forever looking over your shoulder as your dragged closer and closer to the pit.

For anyone who’s never experienced it, it’s easy to say, think positive, your life is good, just be happy, don’t be so negative. But until you’ve experienced depression’s icy grip you just don’t get it.

As I feel the tide rise against my chest this latest time, I wonder, do I still have the strength to swim? Will I be able to climb the walls once she takes me under again? I’ve barely had time to catch my breath. I am still so tired from last time.

But I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a life jacket, family who will never let me float out in to the abyss alone. And I have a life raft, that strong side of me that will never give up without a fight, even when the waves get so big and the rain so dark that I can’t see the horizon anymore.

Depression is my inheritance, passed down through generations of my family. It’s not something I wanted, or courted, or expected. She arrives uninvited and always overstays her welcome. She is pushy and impatient and tenacious. The older I am, the more I almost respect her. She doesn’t take no for an answer and she always comes prepared. She remembers every stupid thing I’ve ever done and will remind me over and over. She knows me better than anyone and when no one else is around, she can always convince me she’s right about me. I am weak, I am pathetic, I am nobody.

She thinks she’s protecting me, she lets me know quickly when I’m not strong enough to do something, when a situation requires more than I can handle. She keeps me locked away at home, safe. She keeps the world out so I can’t get hurt. She slides the lid of that well closed and keeps me close in the dark, where no one can find me, not even me.

If she were a person you’d tell me, cut her loose, she’s terrible, she doesn’t care about you, she’s no good. But you don’t know anything about her or about us. You see, we’re old friends she and I. My greatest moments of clarity have been down in that well. My greatest strengths have been discovered clawing my way up out of the darkness. There’s nothing like that first breath you take after being under water for too long.

So as she sails in on the next tide I step in to my gum boots and get ready to get down in the mud again. Because I thrive in a challenge and no matter how many moons it takes before she realises I’m stronger than her, I will keep fighting.

Depression, old friend, welcome back you bitch. Let’s dance.

 

If you know someone who is battling depression you can find more info on how to help here

gravity

Gravitation, or gravity, … is most commonly recognized and experienced as the agent that gives weight to physical objects, and causes physical objects to fall toward the ground when dropped from a height. (Wikipedia)

I’m due to go back to work on 1 September this year after 12 months on maternity leave. Like most new mums I am nervous to step back in to the corporate world. Will I remember how to behave around adults, does my brain still function the way it used to, what milestones and firsts am I going to miss by being away from my son more often than not?

On top of everything else there is a huge amount of uncertainty about the role I’m returning to. The fact is, at the moment there is no role! My manager was made redundant a few months ago which would normally mean I too would be offered a payout and shown the door. But no, for the second time at this company they are making a new role for me and I’ll be moved somewhere else. I suppose in a way it’s a compliment, when it would be so easy for them to just let me go they are trying to find a role for me. But on the other hand, once again I will be forced to work with a new boss, a new team and it will be a big step down in terms of my place in the business. Part of me wishes that they would just take the decision out of my hands and let me go.

The other reason for not wanting to go back is that my 2 best girlfriends will be gone. One of them will be off on maternity leave by the time I return and the other has resigned from her role this week and will be gone long before I get back. I’ve already lost my other close friends from the company through resignations and redundancies so there will only be a couple of us left from the original group. Considering the social aspect of my job was what I liked most about this role, this definitely changes how I feel about being back there.

Like most other women I know, I need to work. It’s not a case of being able to say, I don’t want to go back, I’m going to quit. I need an income. My husband and I decided a long time ago that we didn’t want to pursue high paying executive roles. We want a lifestyle where we are both present. We don’t want to work late nights, weekends and holidays. We want to be home to see our son before bed every night. We have a great lifestyle in those regards and financially we are very comfortable, but it’s not enough to live on one income, we both need to be in the workforce.John Gardner

In the last few months it’s like a light bulb has come on in my head. I know exactly what I want to be doing. I know where I want to be, how it’s going to work and how amazing it’s going to feel. I can see the sun shining on the final destination but at the moment the path to this dream is still hidden in shadows. I’m afraid if I go back to work the monotony of everyday life is going to push clouds over that sun all together.

Izmael Arkin of tiny buddah says, when we pursue a dream, we are connecting with our heart’s desires. It’s a way of telling our soul “I love you.” Izmael quit his job as a middle school science teacher to follow his childhood dream, to become a ninja!

I am the first one to build up my friends and family and tell them to chase the sun so why am I so afraid to make a call and walk the same path? Might life be a little tough to start with? Probably. Will I have to go without materialistic things and luxury holidays for a little while? Certainly. I grew up living hand to mouth so the fear of being on struggle street hangs like a big chain around my neck.

But what if I succeed, what if making that big leap in to the dark is all it will take to live a lifetime in the sunshine? Is the pressure of success now as big a chain around me as the fear of failure? How much longer will I stand on the precipice afraid of the fall?

Maybe it’s finally time to start defying gravity…

the face of reality

I’ve just had another sleepless night. Remember when being up all  night and crawling in to bed at 5:30am covered in someone else’s vomit meant you’d had a really good night (except the vomit part, but it always made a good story later)? Not… any…  more.

Darling son was up from 12:30… Hungry? No. Wet? No. Needing cuddles? No. Some nights there is just nothing I can do to placate him.

Long before he was born I decided I only wanted one child. I know my husband and family hope I will change my mind but having my gorgeous, perfect little man has only strengthened my resolve that I never want to do it again. Any of it. The pregnancy was awful, the birth was awful, the post natal was awful and the ongoing sleep deprivation is awful.

I learnt a new term today, exhaustipated… when you are just too tired to give a shit. Sitting here on the lounge at lunch time still in my PJ’s, bub with his grandparents to give me a rest, I am totally and utterly EXHAUSTIPATED!

I had lunch with my mum and sister the other day. A rare opportunity to get dressed up, straighten my hair and put on some make up. As I got ready and looked at myself in the mirror I realised I didn’t recognise the woman staring bleary eyed back at me. Who is this loose, lumpy, puffy eyed, crows feeted, lost looking person? These days when I catch a reflection of myself it’s like looking at a stranger.

Image courtesy of glamasia.com

Image courtesy of glamasia.com

I think that’s been one of the biggest shocks of motherhood for me. Not the changes to my body which I expected but the changes to my face! All I can hope is that as the sleep improves (one day) so will my looks. It seems a trivial thing to worry about but I do miss the face I knew before. I can deal with the weakened bladder, the caesarean scar, the loss of core strength and the agonising post pregnancy menstrual cramps… but please give me back my face.

Each night I put him down peacefully in his cot hoping this is the night, this will be the night he sleeps. After 7 months of telling myself this lie how am I still surprised to be up with him 2 hours later? You would think I’d be wise to that old story by now. Motherhood is full of shocks and surprises. Sleep deprivation is just the most consistent.

But what’s the biggest shock of motherhood that I realise each and every sleepless night…? I am actually good at it. To my own surprise! Even in those dark depths of exhaustipation, I know I’m doing a good job. Who would have thought it?!

BUT THE FACE!!!

dream a little dream

It’s my third wedding anniversary today and I’ve just checked in to the Four Seasons for a romantic night with the husband. I’ve got about 2 hours to myself before he arrives so I’ve taken the obligatory photo of the amazing view from our harbour view suite and read a magazine over a cup of tea. I haven’t turned on the TV or radio, it’s quiet. The street noise and boat horns from Circular Quay are muffled by the 30 story distance down to the street.

The baby is at home with his Nana, my mum, and although I know she can easily manage him (she raised 4 kids practically single handed), I hope he’s not giving her a hard time. I was up with him all night last night.

I’m sitting at a beautiful big wooden desk in our room in silence, writing. I’m dreaming of a day when my life is one big holiday with time out taken in between walks on the beach and long lunches to write and do my work. You see, the beauty of being a writer is that I can do my work anywhere. I can write at home, in a hotel room, in a café, on the beach, in the air, on the road, out at sea… With the ability to connect to the world on line, I could be anywhere doing anything.

Image courtesy of The Travel Institute

Image courtesy of The Travel Institute

With the end of my 12 months maternity leave rapidly approaching I find myself dreaming about this lifestyle more and more. I miss the social aspect of my job but not the work. I miss the feeling of accomplishment and recognition for a job well done, but not the demands and office politics.

As I sit here at this big desk, looking out at the harbour, knowing the only schedule I’m on today is my own, I wonder, am I worthy of this dream? Do I have what it takes to make it come true? What will it take and am I brave enough to chase it?

It was easy to take big risks before the mortgage, before the baby. And although we are in a good place financially it’s not quite enough for me to quit my day job and focus entirely on my writing. But when will it be time? If we make a few sacrifices and put off buying a bigger house for a few years maybe we could do it. But is it fair to expect my husband and son to do without just so I can chase a dream?

I wish I was brave, like my friend the artist who quit office work to focus on her painting and is opening another solo art show tonight. Or like my sister who left retail to train and start her own business in fitness.

I want to be brave.

Dreaming is dreaming… When is the time for doing?

silence is golden?

I think I grew out of giving people the silent treatment when I was about 16 years old. I’ve always been more inclined to fight it out and make an arse of myself, even if it’s a losing situation. I have big mouth syndrome, if I were to try and bite my tongue in an argument I’d probably chew right through it. Of course there are times in our lives when we must sit back, observe and keep our opinions to ourselves and I have forced myself to sit squirming in my seat, white knuckled on more than one occasion but generally, if there’s an opinion to be had, I’ll have it.

I have a friend who is the complete opposite of me in this regard, if I say something she doesn’t like or if she feels I’ve let her down in some way, she will employ her favourite tactic, knowing it’s the most cruel and frustrating way she can get back at me, she will ignore me. I know I’ve said or done something to upset her because she will go AWOL from texting and Facebook, when otherwise I would hear from her through one of those mediums multiple times a day.

This latest incident, which we are in the midst of at the moment, made me wonder, in this age of online friendships and virtual interaction, have we grown so uncomfortable with confrontation that it’s easier to just ‘log off’?silent treatment

I suppose the real life equivalent would be her storming from the room and slamming her bedroom door closed on me and not answering when I knock. She’s sitting there on her bed in a huff, refusing to let me in or talk to me, with her headphones in pretending she doesn’t hear me at the door.

After a few days there will be the cryptic status updates like, “why am I the only one who cares” and “I’m always the one making the effort”, which will make no sense to anybody but me. At least when we were younger she would have written me a letter, folded it in our secret “pull here” style and had another friend pass it to me in English. So even though someone would be sitting in between us in class, at least we were still communicating directly with each other.

These days, social media is that other friend sitting in between us at school. She’ll whinge to Facebook about how mean I am and be supported with the feedback she needs from her online friends, “oh no, that’s terrible babe” and “don’t worry chick, it will be ok”. Eventually our old friend Facebook will be there when we make up and the 3 of us will all be talking and laughing and sharing our friendship through check ins and photos and status updates again.

Have you realised that these days you’re more likely to send an email or text to an old friend rather than picking up the phone and calling them? Try and think about the last time you actually had a real conversation with someone face to face.

Sad isn’t it, that with all the online networking, facebooking , tweeting and blogging we do up there in the cloud, down here on earth there is still so much silence?

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