Life Event: Mum with Chronic Illness

Parenting is a hard gig. What about when your health shakes, rattles and rolls out of control?

Meet Agnes

My favourite book or tv show I enjoyed in Primary school
I cannot remember a favourite book in Primary school as parts of my life are a bit of a blur. My illness has caused a lot of memory loss for me-which saddens me.

Overview of life’s events
Things started to unravel in my life when at high school. Stress, lack of sleep, school pressures, mistreatment at home and depression overwhelmed me. I desperately wanted to scream but was unable to. I struggled through high school but had a major breakdown while at university due to family conflict. I had numerous stays in the psych ward. I was given a poor prognosis. Over the years stays in the psych ward have significantly lessened due to medication, love and support from husband and my boys, friends and mental health physicians.

What is it like?
Days of not being able to tell what is real and unreal. Being overwhelmed and preoccupied with tormenting voices and visions. Being scared of people. Wanting to die to stop the torment. Overwhelming depression.

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Happy making day

A few weeks ago we had writers’ retreat. Here is Mick & Kamina’s description on how to design your own.

Amid the writing, the relaxing, the eating and drinking there were also seminar sessions.
Kamina ran one on happiness: we identified “conditions, values or circumstances that align with deep-soul happiness” and highlighted ways to increase or establish more of those in our lives.
Stephen, my dear logical, analytical, rational engineer extraordinaire found it very helpful.

Turns out I don’t like these things.

  • breakfast at start of the day
  • fish and chips
  • large groups of people
  • long chunks of sleep or isolated rest
  • binge watching tv
  • being alone

Things I like more

  • armchair reading in the sun
  • slow breakfast after productivity
  • walks along river
  • cooking for people
  • baths w jazz
  • background music
  • soft jumpers straight on skin
  • gin
  • learning about people’s passions
  • company
  • biographies

Last week was busy – grumpy became my default, impatience my rhythm – I needed to recharge.

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Fruit & Vegetable Box

the Large Family Fruit & Vegetable box from Charlie’s is on sale this month. I am about to order our 4th box. Yes, 4th box of the month.

This financial windfall has coincided with rethinking my approach to food, and Stephen being dragged along. I’ll detail our current situation, but coming posts will consider other people’s situations.

These topics are fairly neutral to me.
But for many of my friends and probably for some of my readers they are rife with strife. (Yes, I did enjoy that rhyme).
Some struggle with eating disorders, some with comfort eating, some adjusting to financial strain, some managing restricted diets, some are at odds with their family or housemates’ views.
If these things trigger, please seek support. Call a friend, call Lifeline.

Eating disorders are one of the scariest mental health topics– your brain can not function or improve when your body is not receiving nutrients.

The major change is planned meals at home.

Our reasons are:

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Life Event: new baby

Suddenly there is a small human for which you are responsible. The idea seems cute and fun and happy – but interrupted sleep is a torture technique. Hear the stories of two sets of new parents.

Agnes & Bernard A

What is a book or tv show you enjoyed in primary school?  Why did you like it?
A – It’s probably out of print now, but I remember loving An Alien at St Wilfred’s, by Adrian Plass.  It’s a little paperback about an alien that comes to a church in England in the middle of nowhere for a few weeks, and hangs out with a small group of people.  I love the way the characters are all so broken, yet they are able to love and support each other and to grow together.

B – I enjoyed reading the Deltora Quest books by Emily Rodda. I enjoyed the adventure, and the mythology of the books.

Give us a quick overview of the details in your life event?
We had (our first) baby.
What’s it like?
A – Insanely amazing.  The first week (birth, hospital time, coming home) was incredibly intense, but we’ve settled in now and life has a new normal.
B – It’s good. There’s a cuddly little baby who falls asleep on you!
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Alcohol: Relationship

I’m writing at a bar: sipping an espresso martini and jiggling a two month baby to sleep on my lap.

After considering many aspects of alcohol, particularly the visible and invisible excess: what is my relationship with alcohol? What is your relationship with alcohol?

Here are some questions I have been pondering to help me consider if I have a healthy and sustainable relationship with alcohol.

Could I stop drinking for a day? For a week? For a month?
Do I need to drink to relax? Have fun? Forget?
Do I drink alone?
When I list all the drinks I had this week, does it sound concerning? Can I remember all the drinks?

Do any answers to these questions raise flags of concern that your relationship may be destructive?

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Mother’s Day

Bah, humbug.

Today is the day we celebrate motherhood, maternal bonds and the influence of mothers in society. All good things. I want to celebrate them too.

But please don’t try to awkwardly make me feel included.
But please don’t ignore that pain and longing and disappointment and anger may colour maternal relationships.
But please don’t try to tell me God is like a mother.
But please don’t ask me to wear a flower in honour of mothers.

Do say motherhood is good and hard and valuable.
Do say we should thank our mothers (and grandmothers).
Do use this as a moment to consider lonely and forgotten mothers who are struggling.

Five things: I value about my mum

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and my mum’s birthday.

Here are five things I value about her.

  1. She loves us intensely.
    As a teenager I yelled at her to ‘f** off’, she burst into tears and gave me a hug.
  2. She adores reading.
    Our house was always full of books, and considered special things (plus now she has a collection to borrow). We read as a family and individually. Even now we enjoy company when reading.
  3. She tolerates teasing.
    Sometimes she is not quite on the same wavelength as the rest of the family. She will often be the butt of jokes, but accepts it graciously (mostly).
  4. She connects with people.
    Mum has friends from each season and place of her life. That means some of her friends she’s been friends with for 55 years! From childhood, high school, university x2, physio times in Victoria & Tasmania, school aged kids, many different work teams within Queensland Health, international colleagues and now Metro North Health Service.
  5. She’s passionate about her work.
    She’s committed to better public health services in our state, country and world.
    I was in the audience as she received the Gold medal from ACHSM. At a recent family dinner we heard a presentation about a new framework for ‘utility cavities above operating theatre’. Yes – we were riveted as well.

13 Reasons Why (Not)

If you missed last month’s release of Netflix’ 13 Reasons Why … you have been under a boulder.
Yesterday they announced season two.

I haven’t read it.
I haven’t seen it.
And I won’t.
There won’t be 13 Reasons Why Not from me.
I don’t want the characters or images in my head.

Others have written:
is it a positive step for addressing teen mental health?
is it quality viewing?
is it a good book adaption?

Please don’t binge watch alone.
Please talk about it.
Please use the topic raised to build support for teen mental health.

Check out this American high school’s response.

Here are my previous 5 resources for teen mental health.

Alcohol: Invisible Excess

Someone asked me to write about responsible drinking, which led to the recent blog series on alcohol. This post will be the second last instalment: the penultimate.

So far we’ve covered: responsible drinking and service of alcohol, how to host a cocktail party, and an excess of alcohol in one day. One night of excessive alcohol can make you sick or foolish and may kill you. I highlighted embarrassing behaviour, getting sick, or passing out.

But some of us are highly functional whilst inebriated. Excessive drinking doesn’t always look stupid. But things can be dangerous and bad for you even if it’s not embarrassing.

You (or someone else) may be drinking to excess with no visible signs – without getting loud or silly or sick or passing out.

Jonathan drinks 20 standard drinks in a sitting (that’s two thirds of bottle of vodka or gin or rum).

Felicity drinks a bottle of wine (7.5 standard drinks) every Friday night.

Jonathan drinks a cocktail before every social event.

Felicity drinks all the free alcohol available at events (that’s 9 glasses of champagne in the Posh Pit at MONA)

Jonathan has a finger or two of Scotch each night.

Felicity has a gin & tonic some nights, but uses her usual water glass as a measure.

These people do not ever look ‘drunk’, but they are drinking to excess. They are hurting themselves and things are dangerous.

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