Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.
I identify as a feminist. Usually I’m completely happy with this, but sometimes, I find myself wanting things that are decidedly unfeministy. Like a boyfriend and a baby and a house in the suburbs. I’ll turn 30 later this year. It keeps feeling like this should be a big deal, like I should have sorted my shit out by now, but it is pretty clear to me that I really, really haven’t got anything sorted out.
I’ve just left a perfectly good, if soul-crushing, permanent part time job for nothing. I haven’t really got another job to go into. I plan to study full-time next semester, but without Centrelink/welfare payments I’ll have to get a job of some sort to survive. I have been in a romantic relationship for a total of four weeks out of the last (nearly) three years. I’m generally not doing well in the ‘being a grown-up department’.
The difficulty for me with these conflicting desires is that I know, intellectually, that I’m capable of being happy without a husband, baby, house and white picket fence. I also know, intellectually, that having these things does not guarantee happiness, and that many people would look at my free, arty farty lifestyle with envy, but I still want them. I guess there’s that part of me, having grown up with all of those expectations of normality, that wants to fit in.
I always saw myself as a parent, a mother, and the idea that it might not be a reality for me is kind of hard to fathom. I’m not so invested in the idea for a baby that I would have one alone, I don’t mean any disrespect to single mothers/parents, but it seems like a lot of hard work, and I’m not up for that.
On the other hand women who don’t have kids are supposed to be focussed on their careers. In a lot of ways I am focussed on my career, my aims to be a writer, but that’s not usually what people mean by career. I don’t want to climb the corporate ladder. I don’t want to work really hard so I have lots of cash and no time. I often feel like a massive failure on lots of different societal measures of success, although I seem to be pretty good at academic pursuits which is supposed to be desirable, but usually only on the way to career or babies.
So how do I make peace with myself, with my path, if I won’t achieve ‘success’? Even if I don’t want to. How do I tell the part of my brain that wants money, husbands, babies and houses to be quiet so the other part, the part my heart knows is right for me, can guide me? And what if my chosen path is never ‘successful’? I might get a few things published here and there, but I might never be a full time writer. Maybe I’ll be working in admin a few days a week and churning out writing that no one will pay for and hardly anyone will read when I’m 75. I really want to be ok with this. I will always have ambition, and that’s great, but I want to be able to be happy without those things.
What if I’m a bad feminist because I want those things? What if I can’t achieve the things I want? What if the things I want aren’t socially acceptable? What if I’m a failure as a human being? What if I want things that won’t make me happy?What if… What if…
But what if I just stop worrying and start living? How about I try that and see how I go from there.
So, I got a little behind with my Writing101 challenge because I had to do an assignment at the last minute and have it done by midnight last night. This was difficult, because apart from having had several weeks in which to do the aforementioned assignment, I basically procrastinated it until there were just over three hours in which to write, reference, proof read and submit the thing. It was, I will freely admit, a very poor effort. I wouldn’t be surprised if it brings down the grade for that subject significantly.
Instead of doing the day nine prompt, about taking perspectives, I’m going to write about misdirected energy. I procrastinated that assignment because I was afraid. I didn’t really know how to approach it, I didn’t feel confident that I could answer the question. I had been to the library (as in actually physically attended it, and borrowed real books) and got out a selection of relevant texts. I had had a cursory look through them, I’d done a bit of online researching, but all of that didn’t really help when it came to writing the essay. I’m not even sure I understood the question correctly. But for some reason the idea of putting it off was much, much more attractive than starting to write or asking for help, or choosing a different topic. I redirected my energy and my focus onto all sorts of other things, mainly watching and rewatching TV series on my computer.
I felt like I didn’t have control and that scared me, so I did everything I could to avoid thinking about it instead of doing something useful. Any that has prompted some pretty strong feelings of disappointment with myself.
Consequently, I spent quite a lot of time over the last few days thinking about anger, and in particular my anger. I don’t deal with anger well. I seem to be incapable of expressing it usefully, and so instead I internalise it, or I redirect it at something else. Especially when it’s a friend who says something that really gets under my skin, instead of saying, ‘hey that’s not very fair’ or ‘I don’t agree because…’ seethe internally and say nothing. It becomes very black and white, I start thinking I can’t be friends with that person anymore and I feel sad, like I’ve failed.
I don’t want to be the sort of person who is constantly filled with a big ball of fury (and guilt), but that’s what I feel like sometimes. There is a quote that’s made the rounds on the internet a bit that has been resonating with me.
“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
From what I can find it’s attributed to Carrie Fisher. I know that holding onto my anger is hurting me and that people are not black and white, they’re a beautiful spectrum of everything in between. I know that I need to either my resentment go, or find a way of constructively letting it out. Sometimes the object of my anger is not an object with which I can safely or usefully engage, and so I have to learn to let that go. Other times, I can engage, and don’t because of a fear of conflict, or more likely, an inability to ask for what I need. Times like this make me wonder what the point is of trying to change, they make me feel like all the therapy I’ve been doing is not helpful, it just keeps bringing up different shit that I have to deal with; a constant treadmill of self doubt and pain.
I guess I could also mention that since I quit my job, a stable and secure, but ultimately unfulfilling and frustrating job. I’ve been feeling like I’ve walked straight off the cliff and into the abyss. I’ve leapt out without any real safety net (again) and I’m terrified. I know it’s the right thing to do, no one grows without challenge, but god damn it’s hard to remember that when you’re worrying about where your rent money is coming from.
Maybe I’m just having a particularly challenging week and I should just give myself a break. I’m pretty good at catastrophising and making stuff into more than it really needs to be. If I try to think about the changes I’m about to make as correcting myself back onto the path I want to be on, rather than as having to start again that might be helpful. If I try to remember all work I’ve done over the last few years to get me to where I am today, that will help. If I try to focus on all the amazing opportunities in front of me, like all the writing and performance I’ve been doing, and about the great people I’ve met through it, about the encouraging and kind feedback I’ve had that helps.
So to conclude, having gone almost all the way around, I will leave you, and myself with two things to think about. One is from Yoda:
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
I am going to try to be fearless, or at least, more fearless, because I’ll never be a famous writer if I’m afraid. The second one is from a speech Jim Carey gave to a university management class, it’s just an excerpt, but it’s powerful:
“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”
Today’s prompt is to write about three songs that are important to you, and I’m really struggling with it. There are so many songs that are important to me, and the songs that speak to me at one point in time are different to the songs that speak to me now.
I remember when I living in Thomastown, I would have been 22 or 23 I suppose, and I used to get terrible bouts of depression. One of the things I found that really helped, sometimes, was to really just indulge in the feeling. I would turn the lights out in my room and lie on my bed in the dark listening to Muse and Nine Inch Nails and crying. It was a release.
Music has always played an important part in my life. I remember the music that my partners and friends exposed me to; Sean and Slayer, Kelly with his numetal and trance music, Damien who introduced me to NIN and Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah, Wade, gorgeous Wade, who introduced me to so many fantastic artists and bands, and who had an amazing knowledge of all of them, even now I can recount some of his interesting tidbits when a song comes on the golden oldies station in he car. Wade was the one who opened the door to Leonard Cohen, and made me see the beauty in his version of Hallelujah. He showed me Johnny Cash, and Nick Cave, and The Angels (vale Doc), and so many more. Richard who lent me the entire discography of Pink Floyd. Aaron who showed me the genius of Dolly Parton and Elvis. And Paul for Die Antwoord. And Louise, the best poet I know, who shared Radiohead and PJ Harvey with me. And Jonathan and Gabrielle for Queens of the Stone Age, and Serge Gainsbourg, and The Cramps. And Simon and Kat for The Nymphs and The Bluebottles. I could go through almost my entire collection and tell you who each artist/band came from.
There’s something about the relationship between who shared the music with you and how you feel about that artist/band. Something more powerful than the music itself sometimes. An almost magical force that ties you together, the sense memory of the good times and a feeling of knowing the musicians because of how well you know the people who first experienced it with you.
For me, I could never pick just three songs. I could never say it’s ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’, and ‘The Perfect Drug’ and ‘Creep’. Because it’s Johnny Cash singing ‘Hurt’ and it’s Nirvana singing ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ and it’s PJ Harvey and Thom Yorke crying over Nick Cave, and it’s Skrillex dropping the bass, and it’s Michael Bublé making my knees tremble, and Tom Waits’ grumbling, and so many more.
And that’s not even counting the classical music that I played for years when I was in orchestras and bands, through high school and uni. It’s the solo in Scheherazade that I never got right. Or the operas that I see with Mum every year. Or the emotional roller-coaster ride of a great film score. And it’s fucking around with a bass guitar in my bedroom when no one is home.
Someone asked me once what song would I want to have in my head for the rest of my life. It was in highschool, probably 1999 or 2000, and I was obsessed with Marilyn Manson. I said ‘The Man That You Fear’. If you asked me today, I couldn’t tell you.
Music is mood, and music is meditation, and music is motivation, and music gives meaning to life. And that’s why I can’t tell you three songs that are the most important to me.
The following is a bit of a rambling rant. Please don’t feel any obligation to read it.
Today I’m sad. I have had an exhausting week up in Sydney doing training for my day job. The stuff covered was leadership, conflict management, and HR skills. Four and a half days of trying to work out what’s wrong with us and how to be better at our jobs.
At one point, about 3pm on Wednesday afternoon I cracked. I couldn’t handle it anymore, I just wanted to hide and cry and eat. I managed to stay in the room for the rest of the afternoon and even pretended to get involved in some of the activities but I’d definitely hit a wall.
I don’t remember exactly what tipped me over the edge, what it was that triggered an enormous rush of anxiety to wash over me. Maybe it was one thing, or maybe it was a culmination of things from the first three days of training but it was just all too much for me.
I had a similar experience today. I was out for lunch with a couple of people I’d met through my writers’ group. At one point I started to tell them about the stuff I was going through at the moment, about the dark place I’m in, and some of the stuff I’ve been trying to do in my life to get it sorted out. At one point one of my companions decided that I had a personality disorder; well first one and later he revised it to a different one. This is a man I’ve met only once before today. A man who has no qualifications in psychology or any related fields. At first I thought he might be right, but the more I thought about it, the less I felt like that. I felt like he was trying to fit me into a box, to invalidate my experiences by saying I was ‘just disordered’, not a response to some particularly challenging circumstances. It also seemed to me to be a bit of a cop out, as my understanding of personality disorders is that they are incredibly difficult to treat and hard to overcome.
I don’t want anyone reading this to think that I have a problem with anyone with a personality disorder, or that I am judging anyone, well except this guy. My issue is they way that conversation made me feel. I felt small. I felt broken. I felt dismissed. I felt like telling him to shove it up his arse. That he had no right to cast aspersions on my mental health. That he was not trained and that he suffered from the tendency of first year medical/psychology students to diagnose themselves and others with all sorts of exotic problems.
I guess I am probably particularly sensitive to shifts in my mood lately, and to trying to figure out the things which have caused the shift but I still think that it was out of line.
So I’m sad. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing really well, other times not so much. Anyway just thought I’d have a rant. I took a few photos while I was away, not as many as I would have liked, I’ll put some of the good ones up soon.
I feel like I haven’t been updating as often as I should, and I’m sorry to say it’s because I haven’t been doing so great lately. I’ve been dealing with some stuff that’s come up in therapy and to be honest it’s been taking up a lot of my time just keeping myself afloat. I’ve had to answer the question ‘So, how have you been lately’ a lot over the last few weeks and it’s been increasingly difficult to feel genuine when I say ‘Yeah, good, and you?’
In addition to the therapy stuff some of my attempts to make some new friends (as advised by my psychologist and my GP) have gone pretty disastrously badly. Breaking up with friends (yes, it’s a thing and it’s something people should do more often) is something I never enjoy.
I’ve spoken to a few of my friends about my current struggle and they all assure me that it will be over soon. I kind of know, deep down, that this must be the dark before the dawn but at the same time it feels so very, very dark.
I’ve been trying to do the right things for myself: taking my medication, and seeing my psychologist and my GP. They talk about me apparently, and worry about me. I don’t know whether that makes me feel better or worse!
I’m learning to be nicer to myself when I think I’m being unproductive. Art is not something that can be done in a production line, it has to come from somewhere and go to somewhere. I guess the plus side of this current slump is that I have lots of great material. Or something.
Right now I’m trying to focus on simple things.
– Drinking more water, having less caffeine and eating well;
– Exercising and stretching;
– Meditating and being in the moment;
– Not pushing myself too hard; and
– Continuing to pursue relationships which nurture me.
There has been some good stuff taking up my time too. I’ve started taking acting classes and am really enjoying the new outlet for my creativity, even though some of the activities I find incredibly challenging. The last weekend was filled with some amazing socialising; a wedding and a beautiful catch up with a friend from out of town.
I hope that I’ll have some more awesome stuff for you all soon, photo essays, writings, adventures and other things. In the meantime I’m going to take each day as it comes and hopefully things will improve.
It’s hard to explain my depression to someone who’s never been through it. It’s normal for people to feel sad sometimes, everyone has times like that and there is a comfort in knowing that you have something to be sad about. For me, at this moment in time, I’m sad for no reason. I feel like I’ve been hollowed out and all of my emotions have been replaced with ‘sad’ or ‘nothing’. Normal sadness and grief are sharp, they stab you at one point, for one reason and you know it, depression is like white noise that you can hear all the time, if you concentrate on something else for a while, you can not think about it, but the noise is always there, gradually wearing away at you.
People who have watched Dexter might have a bit of an understanding of what I mean here, but I feel like the times when I’m happy are a mask, a costume that I put on. If I pretend to be happy I can convince myself for a while that I’m ok, but it doesn’t last. I can distract my self with TV or watching stuff on youtube, even going to work or visiting people, but it’s only a band-aid, as soon as it ends I go back to being filled with an enormous black hole, a heavy feeling in my stomach that makes me feel sick.
I saw the GP this morning, told him about the crushing sadness. I feel like since starting the medication (a bit over two weeks ago) my anxiety has reduced significantly, but now I’m just full of empty, directionless sadness. The worst thing about it is that it’s not as though I’m sad about anything, I’m just sad. All I want to do is sleep, or stare out the window or some other equally motionless activity. The GP and I decided to increase my medication. He said I was looking better than when I last saw him. I guess it’s comforting, but I really don’t know if I feel better. Without the anxiety I feel like there’s a gaping maw of sadness waiting to swallow me if I let my defences down.
The thing about my depression is that sometimes I feel like I’m defined by it; that I wonder who I’d be without it. I get that it’s a sickness and I get that this is possibly as bad as I’ve ever been, but sometimes I wonder who would be left without it. Sometimes I feel like I’ve grown up with it and I’m not ready to let it go, but then I remember that I’ve been working so hard for so long to get well that it doesn’t matter what comes next. I am me and no one can change that. The things that happened to me over my life will always be there with me, and if I can kick this depression maybe I’ll be able to achieve some of the stuff I’m too frightened to even try right now.
I have struggled with depression a lot in my life I have just turned 28. The first time I was referred to the school counselor I was 11 years old. After that I saw several counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists and family therapists throughout my school life and early adulthood.
When I was 14 I tried to kill myself. Not very effectively, I really just wanted someone to notice and help me. I left home when I was 18 and moved in with my boyfriend who was even more fucked up than me. There were times I would cry myself to sleep. For more than ten years the black cloud hung over me.
However, in the last few years I have felt better. Since I ended my last serious relationship, in mid 2009, I thought I was better. I thought I’d kicked the Black Dog out of my life.
About a year ago I started seeing a psychologist. With her I have made some real break-throughs about who I am, what I want out of life, who I should surround myself with. She is helping me to learn to love myself and to assert my needs for emotional support from people around me. She is teaching me how to feel human again.
But right now it feels like too much too fast. For the last month I have found it harder and harder to face people. The very idea of it fills me with dread. I just want to hide in my room and never leave, and yet I’m filled with loneliness, emptiness. Sometimes it takes all my energy, every ounce of willpower, just to leave the house. I sit in my room and weep. For no real reason – it just hurts. Night time is always worse.
Little things will trigger a spiraling internal dialogue about how worthless I am. Sometimes it’s not even that clear as negative internal dialogue, just something happens that reminds me of all the pain I’m trying to manage and it comes welling up.
I feel heavy inside all the time. Like it is harder to walk, to move. I feel like I’m wading through waist-deep honey. Sometimes I think about driving my car into a wall, or hurting myself in other ways just to make it stop. It is an effort to smile and make conversations with people; to hide what’s happening inside. I don’t want anyone to know because I’m ashamed.
I am afraid they will think I’m a whinger, that I have everything going for me, that I have nothing to complain about. I’m afraid they will look at me as though I’m a burden to them. That they will push me away because they don’t know how to deal with me. Part of this is the depression, whispering in my ear, lying to me, but part of it is true.
I have not had a good record of having people around me who have the emotional know-how, resources or willingness to support me so when I reached out to them they push me away, or placate me, or distract me, or deny me.
It has taken a lot for me to admit to myself that I have depression. Even with the stuff I was doing with my psychologist, it’s only in the last week that I’ve said to myself ‘You are not ok. You need to take steps to be ok. You will be ok’.
So I’ve made an appointment to get some antidepressants. I’m seeing my psychologist regularly. I am writing this here because I need to say it. I need people around me to understand that sometimes I just can’t see you and it’s not your fault. I need people to know what’s going on for me, but I don’t need you to do anything different. Just be yourselves, your gorgeous selves and let me do the work with my psychologist and my doctor. I don’t need you to be my counselor I need you to be my friend. To hug me, to tell me you love me and to give me some slack when I need it.
I need to tell you this here because I can’t tell you to your faces. I’m just not that strong.
I need to say it here because there are people in the world, many that I don’t even know, who need to hear it, to know it’s ok to say I am not ok, to know that depression lies and that you are not alone.
This week I spent three days in Adelaide doing training for work. I had intended to have a bit of a wander around the city and get some photos of the different architecture and other stuff that I wouldn’t see in Melbourne. However my knee is still pretty sore so walking a long way was out of the question, and by the end of each full day of training all I wanted to do was sleep/watch tv.
I took a couple of shots from my hotel room of sunset, they’re not very good and I took a couple of shots on a brief walk later that same night. Unfortunately almost all of the night photos are motion blurred because I didn’t take the tripod.
All in all I was not able to make the most of the trip and that makes me a little disappointed.
This is a pub across the road from where we had dinner on the second night, in King William St. I liked the old style architecture and in particular the colour of the sky – such an amazing blue.
While waiting for the food to come out I tried to be artistic with this wine glass. I quite like that the shadow of the glass looks like it comes straight out of the base.
This is the best of the collection of sunset shots. It seems to be a little grainy which is disappointing – it would have been better with a lower ISO and a tripod for a longer exposure. Next time I go travelling I’ll take the tripod!