Shed some light

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It’s been five days. Five days of holing myself up at home, curtains drawn with the television playing in the background as I absentmindedly swipe through Facebook, Instagram – anything that will distract me. I haven’t achieved anything during these five days. Sure, I’ve managed to do menial tasks – do the washing, maybe clean a bit. After an hour I get tired and I want to go back to bed.

I’ve lived in my pyjamas.

I tried going into work on the Monday and again on Thursday. I’ve had a cold and had to go home. I was mostly relieved. It was hard because a lot of me wanted to be at work where I could focus on something other than what was in my head, but when I turned on the computer and started scrolling through my emails it was exhausting. My patience was gone and I just felt angry and confused.

I tried to make sense of what was happening, I’d felt like this before but it had been about a year since it had got this bad. I was ashamed but desperate, lonely but not wanting to see anyone – do anything.

A few people had started asking me what was wrong, a close friend had been trying to help by going through what I was feeling, nothing worked. I am usually very productive, if I do have the luxury of being at home I will knuckle down and Get. Things. Done. To put this into perspective, once I had a killer bout of upset tummy, firing from both ends – it was disgusting. And yet, between racing to the toilet and sculling water, I managed to rearrange the entire study, including a couple hundred books, while I was stuck at home. If I had the fire – boy, I was unstoppable.

Due to my over-eagerness I had managed to block out every week until next February with tasks, whether it be helping someone with painting or making myself available for other projects. When I look at my diary I feel a strange mix of sheer terror followed swiftly by satisfaction. I may not be able to finish anything in my own life, but I’ll be damned if I can’t help someone with theirs. Unfortunately, there’s only so much I can do, only so much I can fill my time before the reality of ignoring my own faults pushes itself to the surface.

Every day I have taken a nap in the middle, put my earplugs in and waited for someone to wake me, which they inevitably would. Prior to 2018 I had maybe napped a handful of times, maybe less. I hated napping because when I woke up it was like being thrown into a tub of cold water, disorientated and pissed off because I never knew what year it was. Now I wait with longing to be able to crawl back into bed and pull the blankets back over me.

My eye has been twitching for the better half of the week, so even if I do go out I have the look of a deranged homeless woman, hair a mess, face covered in acne due to comfort eating takeaway food, and a twitchy psychotic eye. Safe to say, I look certifiably insane.

Sometimes I am afraid that I will feel like this forever. I don’t want to be like this for the rest of my life, waiting for the fog to lift. The undeniably irony is that when I am at my lowest I write the most, poetry, stories, letters to the editor (just kidding). When I am ‘good’ I have no time left over to do anything, let alone write. I throw myself into projects, make myself as useful as possible. I want to be helpful and invaluable. After all, the truth comes when I go back-wards, I have nothing else to give.

It’s been five days. I am still tired. My head still hurts from the anxiety-induced headache I gave myself yesterday when I was fretting over family. I still look absolutely insane, and the seven kilos I gained in a week and a half unfortunately haven’t gone, either (funny, that).

But, it’s a pretty day and my cold has almost gone, maybe I can take Billie for a walk.

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If you, or someone you know is experiencing depression, anxiety or just down and out, visit the below links to get better acquainted with what you can do to move into a better space. 

In the lead up to Australia’s R U Okay Day (13th September, 2018), I want to make it more acceptable to talk about the demons in our own heads. I am a safe person, and I have my own safe people. These are people I trust to talk to me when I am feeling like I was, when things feel so bleak it is almost impossible to move forward. I am also a safe person for some of my nearest and dearest.

Join the movement, ask the question and make it OK to talk about mental illness. 

– Jaime.

R U Okay

Beyond Blue 

 

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Finding Me.

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I couldn’t write.

I couldn’t think about writing let alone open the laptop and actually attempt to formulate words, everything had shrunk down to this one syllable adjective; ‘fuck.’ It’s amazing how much expression can be placed into that one, little itty bitty word. Stub your toe ‘FFFAAARRRK!’ Burn the dinner ‘fuhuhuhuhccck’ lose a promotion; ‘fuckfuckfuckityfuckFUCK’.

Lose yourself; ‘fuck…’

So that’s what happened. I lost myself, and Jack couldn’t do anything. In a way it was self professing, I mean, you spend so much time wanting people to appreciate you, to want you around that eventually when things start to crumble you don’t really have anything else there, that image you created has all but shattered and it’s just you. Sitting in the raggedy dressing gown, watching reruns of friends and attempting to remember why you gave a shit in the first place.

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So, I had depression. Sorry, I HAVE depression. and that little black cloud follows me around from place to place reminding me that I am not good enough, not smart enough to be doing what I do. Every now and then I will be doing really well, on top of the world – I will be seeing my friends, making contributions to my workplace, helping colleagues with their issues and like a cherry on the cake my bra and undies will be matching, too. Any female worth her salt will understand the true power of wearing matching underwear. It’s enough to turn you from shaved head Britney Spears to 2017 Britney Spears, running a damn Vegas show.

Then Shit. Hit. The. Fan.

Not just a little poo, I am talking a gigantic, elephant sized Mexican food induced turd hit an industrial fan and I stood there as I lost my confidence, my self worth and most importantly, my control. All that was left was me, covered head to toe in crap. I say this figuratively, I mean had this really happened I don’t think I could live it down. As my darling nephew says ‘Auntie Jaime Poo Poo.’ He’s three, what he doesn’t realise is that I’ll be doing a speech at his 18th and, like an elephant, I will remember.

I digress. What do you do when you effectively lose your identity? Well, I did what any lass does in that situation and I ate enough to gain four kilos and refused to see anyone for a solid month. I stopped going to family functions, I cried on the way to work and I kept my resting bitch face firmly set in place so no one would come near me. I tried to explain to people, I knew that in the past I had a bad habit of cutting ties and running away. So I forced myself to tell people what was happening. It was one of the hardest things I have done. Some people responded with an outpouring of love and affection, others… well, depression is hard and loving someone with depression can be just as difficult.

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Regardless, I was miserable, and after a trip to my GP wherein I sat in the chair and sobbed for a solid ten minutes, my doctor looked at me warily, patted me on the shoulder,  gave me a week off work so I wouldn’t launch myself off a bridge and upped my antidepressants.

This was roughly two months ago. So, still pretty fresh. I did things to survive, mentally, in the first few weeks like actively refusing to contribute to things, taking myself ‘offline’ to an extent and eating enough to feed a small family for a month. Then I started slowly… dipping my toe into the water, starting to write again, beginning to care. I joined the same gym as Jack which, in hindsight, was probably a mistake. He is a lot fitter than I am due to aforementioned overeating and where he has muscle I have decades of Austrian genetics, made up of ghoulish, salt and lard smothered meat.

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Living with any mental illness will always be difficult, this is not the first time I have felt like this and unfortunately it will not be the last. The devastation, disappointment and shame that I felt and still do, in the pit of my stomach, will eventually dissipate and I will remember what I loved about me.

I remember at the start somebody had questioned my resilience and I was furious. I may feel like this, I may have the self esteem of a 16 year old girl and the BMI of a baby rhino but I am more resilient than anybody gives me credit for. I can spend an entire day helping others, using my empathy to make a difference and trying. every. second. then still get up in the morning and want to make a difference, still want others to be happy.

We share to learn, and I don’t want to be one of those people who pretends that everything is fine when it’s not. I have made some foolish mistakes when feeling blue, such as impulse buying a car and crying in front of one of my bosses, but they are not unfixable. For example I could crash my car, get the payout and ignore my manager for the remainder of my career – nothing’s set in stone. Unless it’s my ability to use my own self depracation to make others smile, that shit is like a drug.

Force yourself to be loved, spend time with your family, give a shit. and then, when you wake up in the morning and struggle to move… stare at the ceiling and declare;

‘FUCK, Yes. Let’s do this.’

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R U OK?

An open letter to my Mum on Mothers’ Day

I remember many times when I was little and even now that I am a adult when you were there for me, rain, shine, angsty teen or whimpering six year old – it never mattered. Some memories, though, remain solid and entrenched and bring a smile to my face no matter what the day has thrown at me.

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When I was little I remember our old house had a long hallway, at one end was the kitchen and at the other end was my room. The head of my bed faced the hallway and I would lay there and watch you wander backwards and forwards while you cleaned dishes, made a cup of tea or made yourself a snack. If you hadn’t walked into the kitchen for some time I would become worried, slowing my breathing and straining my ears so I could try and hear your footsteps. And then there you would be and I’d call out and say goodnight again just because I liked that you were there. The we moved and my bedroom was suddenly shared with a small, mildly frustrating brown haired little terror who stole my toys and took up your time. My naughty little sister. But I was sneakier than her and I could climb down the bunk without making a sound and tip toe my way to your room, crawl across the floor and slide into your bed.

It didn’t matter that I didn’t hug you, I just curled up and fell asleep on the opposite side. Safe and content knowing that you were next to me. This remained for years until the hormones hit, and sometimes I’d still slide into your bed after a bad nights sleep or a aprticuarly angsty day and feel secure. I guess I never said it in so many words but your presence made me feel loved and nutured, without doing anything but being there.

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You were not the perfect person or even the perfect parent, even though I always saw you that way. Despite many hiccups and tough times, family dramas and grief, you have made all your children feel loved. You sometimes cast a shadow because of everything you have achieved, you’re the most intelligent person I know and you’re ours. How lucky are we?

In the tough years when I left school at the end of the day and expected to see someone else and instead saw you there, I would cry and cry because I was so crushed, but you didn’t ever blame me or make me feel bad, although I’m sure that it broke your heart every time it happened. You never cursed that person or told me that it wasn’t your fault. You simply hugged me while I cried and took me home. I know now that we take for granted the ones we love, we assume that they will always be there because we don’t know any different. That’s the sign of a great parent, someone who instills such love into their children that they don’t know how it feels if you’re not there. I never doubted your presence, even now as I sit writing this at the back of your property in my own unit with my fiance. You let us use your space to grow, gifted us with that ability.

I can’t begin to explain all the ways you made me feel loved and special or how you’re my absolute favourite human being. I am so proud of what you have achieved with three children under your arm all whilst renovating a home (albeit slowly), finsihing a PhD and writing a million novels. I still get a frission of pure happiness if I get to have a coffee with you or if I see you during work hours and can show you off. I will brag to anyone who listens about how amazing my mother is. So, happy Mother’s day to all the Mums out there – I sure am lucky to know so many absolutely brilliant mothers, but especially to mine. I love you, Mum.

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Take Two (the Peninsula)

 

When my little sister was just a wee tot and still doing baby swimming lessons my Mother always sat on the side lines, as any responsible parent would do. One day our Mum had taken Cait to her lessons and sat down to relax, there she was, minding her own business when she notices the swimming instructor start to paddle the little kiddies out to the deeper section. Now, Caitlin was a sprout in terms of age, but stature wise, lets just say that Austrian heritage was shining through. As it had done for me, and all the other lasses in our poor, salt loving, goulash hogging family before her. so when Cait went to start swimming, she didn’t kick, she didn’t paddle and she didn’t ask for help, she just let her chubby little body sink like a stone to the bottom of that pool.

Mum, as cool as a cucumber, waded into that pool and fished my little sister out. She had sunk and made absolutely no effort to get her chubby little arms and legs to move her upwards, in fact, she had simply just sat there. At the bottom of the pool. no panic, no flailing, just acceptance.

I believe this may have, along with a slightly traumatic experience with Wally the Wras on a visit to the Great Barrier Reef, instilled a fear in my sister. whether it be fish or deep ocean, the sea isn’t for her. I, however, love the water. Don’t get me wrong, I have many a fear of a gigantic tidal wave taking us out (despite living inland), but I loooveee the beach, the swimming, splashing, getting shit whipped by an undercurrent. I, aside from loving adjectives, am a water baby. Jack is also a fan of the big blue, and has dreams of living on the coast line, surfing and fishing the long summers away. So we decided to take a hike down to the Mornington Peninsula for this little adventure. There is also the added bonus of being in my older sister’s neck of the woods. Despite the high prices (average of $650,000+) we weren’t ready to rule out the peninsula just yet. Realistically we may even be able to grab a little shack outside of the main stretches, flip it and move closer. I’m always optimistic about housing!

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The Peninsula is gorgeous, and whatever angle you come from it is also a lovely little drive. Meandering down the Peninsula Link you get to go through the outer wine country (another tick in my book), with rolling green hills etched with vineyards. Rather than continue on directly to the coastline my older sister Lissa has told me about Red Hill. Now, Red Hill is the Dandenong Ranges of the beach, with beautiful leafy surrounds and stunning views of the outer lying lands. But, it’s not exactly cheap. Regardless there we went, in my little Barina, to the upper class.

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Ugh, driving into this area of Victoria was like coming home. It was so beautiful, big hairy pine trees and sleepy gums scattered over a tumultuous landscape. every block of land we peered into seemed to have accommodation fit for a king (and could possibly even house his army at the same time), plus horses, pigs, chickens and the odd duck. Jack was practically drooling over the humongous sheds, while I was more focused on the local cuisine. After all, a girls gotta eat!

We drove through into the main stretch, and while it definitely was adorable it did seem to lack some, er, range, of shops. there were three darling little cafes, a local mechanics as the centrepiece, Realestate and a day spa. The residents of Red Hill clearly have their priorities in check! At this point I was about ready to chew my arm off so Jack calmly suggested we stop for a small snack and a coffee before heading down to Sorrento, our second half of the trip.

We stopped in at the Epicurean restaurant and cafe, rustic inside and out with large scale timber beans holding the massive shed up. It was very gorgeous, and despite a minor wait (it was BUUUSY) we sat perched on the upper balcony with a cheesecake and coffees. To make it even better we were lucky enough to watch a large bus come in with 40 odd party go-ers, all dressed up to the nines for what we assumed was a 30th Birthday party (we spied some balloons).

After the little rendezvous at Red Hill we zipped down to Sorrento for some lunch and a sticky beak. Obviously, as 90% of Australia’s population live on the coastline, it was a lot more ‘suburban’ than what we were actually looking for. Despite this I was optimistic. The land is still hilly and not as flat as other places on the coastline (so my minor fear of tidal waves was redundant) and as Sorrento is right on the tippy top of the peninsula there is a ferry line straight over to Queenscliff on the opposite side of the bay – helloo summer getaway! We wandered down the main stretch which, on the plus side is better stocked than your average shopping centre, on the down side however, is busier than one, too. Because of the beauty of the Sorrento, it is a hot spot for tourists and gets fairly busy, even on the less than ideal weather conditions.

For the time being it didn’t bother us, but I wondered if I’d be thinking the same thing if I wanted to pop down to get some groceries on a Sunday and had to fight a city slicker for a car park. Although, we DID get to see some rad cars parked among the Audi’s and Range Rovers.

On the positive there were plenty of cafes and restaurants and a gorgeous little green grocers (organic!) as well as two Bed Bath ‘n Table’s (why two, we will never know). We even saw a local bikie gang ride in and park their hogs along the footpath, effectively pissing off a young mum with a pram because she couldn’t get past. All in all, Red Hill was definitely on the list, it didn’t have the tourists that Sorrento had and it was closer than other outer suburbs and Warburton to local events. Sorrento is still in the running, though, purely because of the gorgeous main street (the accountants was cuter than most heritage listed buildings in Melbourne CBD!) and lord help me I can’t say no to a town that has two Bed Bath ‘n Tables. Despite this whole exercise being an adventure to find a new place to live, Victoria is honestly so full of gorgeous locations that this may be a bit more difficult than we had originally planned!

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I’m up for the challenge, though. On to the next adventure, we will be choosing from The ever windy Ballarat City or the gorgeous town of Bright at the base of the Alpine Ranges in Victoria. Stay tuned for the next blog of Finding Home. x

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Where we begin

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Targarty Creek, on the way to Phantom Falls, Victoria Aus

When I was a little girl I would spend the majority of my time outside, climbing up trees, setting traps for my younger sister and exploring the quarter acre leafy property that our house was situated on in Ferntree Gully, Australia. I loved Melbourne City but had always had a soft spot for the Dandenong Ranges, with their gorgeous giant ferns and the earthy damp smell that accompanied a perpetually wet forest. So when my fiancé and I were forced to move from our beautiful little townhouse rental in Tecoma I was devastated.

All the renters reading this will understand the perpetual struggle of realising that renting and saving for a mortgage deposit at the same time is about as possible as Trump becoming president.

Oh, wait…

Slight deviation, however, we found ourselves coming to the end of a two year stint in our own little house, with no deposit saved and the dawning realisation that we would either have to find another rental in the burbs or discover a new alternate – possibly hermit life? Thankfully for us, but possibly not for my poor, exasperated mother, we were able to move into my mum’s backyard. This incites images of us hunkering down in a little makeshift tent like garden gnomes and stealing clothes off the washing line. Alas, no gnomes here, Jack (being the carpenter extraordinaire that he is) built us a granny flat unit. Two bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen/lounge area.

This is where I am currently writing. Propped up on my $50 couch (notorious bargain hunter over here), resting my tootsies on our large, slightly extravagant Indonesian wine holder coffee table… The sunlight streaming in and illuminating the dust on my laptop-thank God I am not a clean freak or this would really be bugging me.

Maybe I’ll just clean it a little…

We built this gorgeous little unit two years ago, amid joblessness, family dramas and our own little spats (can I get a holla for all the long term relationships out there), but now we are finally getting to a position where we can look for our, for lack of a better phrase, forever home. Urgh, the cliche in this post is rife.

Now we get to the crux, to the simple, yet desperately sought finale. Jack and I are trying to find something, a piece of land to move to. A place where we can stretch and learn and grow and raise our metaphorical children and run with our metaphorical doggies (at least ten, I’ve decided), a parcel of earth surrounded by trees away from the hustle and bustle of modern Melbourne.

Come with us while we travel from the flat, windswept historical Ballarat to the brilliantly green and perpetually soggy Ranges. After all, it’s the journey that makes everything worthwhile.

Where better to start than Warburton? Emerald tinged, a gorgeous little town nestled between hills east of Melbourne CBD. Curiously, as Jack very much enjoyed telling me on our trip there (a walking encyclopedia, that one), it is also the choice location for retired veterans, many of whom were settled in the rural town after the Vietnam war. Making the little township a hotspot for moccasins, rifles and the odd mental illness. In truth, this sounds more exciting than anything, what’s life without a little bit of paranoid delusions, amiright?

Aside from that small tidbit of information, we were both pretty excited to visit the popular tourist spot. The reality is that anywhere you go you will find some version of unpleasantry, for example, I work in the Dandenong area, so the possibility of being mugged and possibly murdered on the way to my car is mildly higher than say, South Yarra. But in South Yarra my inclination towards tracksuit pants and oversized hoodies makes ME look like the murderer. Sort of, I mean I’m only 5’4 with blonde hair and skin as white as Turnbull’s Government. So, you know… probably not. But I digress…

I really loved Warburton, it had that gorgeous rustic appeal that so many people are after nowadays, ‘on trend’ I believe is the phrase. We ate a delicious lunch at The River View Cafe  and watched the tourists below get drenched due to another random Melbourne downpour on a 30 degree day. Jack enjoyed the fact that there was so much wood, as a Carpenter and wood working fanatic I sometimes think he dreams wood. He’d be one of those people from the 60’s with the pine panelled interiors. You can’t see me right now (if you can then I believe we may have some concerns to discuss, something a long the lines of personal privacy) but I just shuddered. Please, no wood panelling.  The little info centre was gorgeous, it had a water wheel! And I was pleased to note that despite the influx of tourists, the main issue really only seemed to be cyclists and as long as they weren’t riding side by side I really wasn’t fussed… I’m quite partial to cycling anyway.

I’ve since googled the town and discovered that it has a very appealing population of just 2,000, a definite plus in my books. There also didn’t appear to be any major fast food services or corporate headquarters which definitely appealed to Jack and his hippy ways, and all the time there were gorgeous views of the Yarra River (before it gets closer to Melbourne and bodies appear in it) and an abundance of valleys and hills. Not to mention the sightseeing… a mere five minutes drive* up the road we were able to wander through the Redwood forest – Cement Creek.

*in reality it took us twenty minutes because jack is bloody hopeless at navigation.

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Land prices for that area are also astoundingly cheap, compared to our local areas median price of around $350,000 for a miniature piece of turfed land, we could get over an acre of forest for between $105,000-$200,000. You won’t see me shaking my head at that! There’s always the threat of bushfires in these sort of areas, but I’m kinda of at that point where I think to myself, well if you’re an Australian who isn’t a little scared of a 40 degree gusty day, then are you really Australian?

Our first little road trip went remarkably well, i’ve since been shoving realestate.com in Jack’s face every few minutes with another piece of land in the Warburton area, so I’m pretty sold at this point. Although MY destination is coming up soon so I guess we will just have to wait and see. Join us next week for another little adventure and follow on Facebook to keep up to date with our shenanigans.

Tata!

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Jack & Jaime