I Fell Off The Wagon

I’m not beating myself up, I swear. Well I’m trying not to. It’s awfully hard not to when my default mode is self loathing on an epic scale.

I fell off the wagon big time this year. I’ve been battling a hip injury since the end of last year which has really only recovered in recent weeks, so I’ve found every excuse under the sun to not go and do some other form of exercise such as the exercise bike or swimming. Instead, I fell into a spiral of self hatred and food. And wine. Oh my goodness the wine.

The thing about mental health is, that it’s fluid. It moves just like the tides. Some days the waves are quite manageable for a beginner and then other days the waves are so big and unpredictable, even a pro like Kelly Slater might think twice about putting himself out there.

So of course, in saying that, I feel generally good, however things aren’t one hundred percent and I’m trying to cope with the possibility that they may never ever be one hundred percent ever again. I’m constantly triggered. Constantly. I can’t escape it. I mean just yesterday birthing and babies came up in conversation, asking for my expertise (because remember I’m a registered nurse also, not only a mother) which of course I don’t mind helping out, honestly. It’s just the re opening of old wounds that I have to deal with afterward.

Last night it was dreams.

A few weeks ago I applied for a new job and I was successful! I start this coming Tuesday so here’s to hopefully starting afresh with even less chance of exposing myself to triggers at work. However in the last two weeks, it’s as though karma wanted to send me out with a bang.

I ended up on the resuscitation team in the operating theatres. Ordinarily I would have been okay and generally I was, but obviously it’s had an affect on my subconscious because even though at the time the only fear I had was that maybe the flashbacks would come back while I was in the theatre and I wouldn’t be able to perform my job effectively. It’s been after. Just about every night since I have had dreams about my operation. This morning it was so distressing it actually woke me up.

I’m not sure where to go from here. I feel as though I have exhausted my options with psych therapy. Medications were never an option for me. I’m not sick like I was two years ago but I’m not well either.

So I’m trying my luck at trying to fix the outside of me, so that maybe the inside of me will follow suit. I’ve gained weight this year and my clothes are too tight and I generally am reminded of how much of a failure I am every time I put pants on. It’s so ridiculous to measure my self worth on a number but I do and I know I’m worth an infinite measurement but I can’t shake the loathing.

So here’s to small goals and feeling better about myself.

The Beast and his Shadow

The sudden death of a celebrity always gets people talking. Particularly when that death is linked to suicide.

Robin Williams the actor, was loved by millions, myself included. He managed to brighten up my world with his incredible talent and brand of humour. From the early days of Mork and Mindy right up until the very recent and funny The Crazy Ones and all of his critically acclaimed work in between. His charity work helped thousands of people who may not have even known he was working for them. He’s also touched me personally, by giving me the courage to finally publish this blog post that I wrote early last year.

I was in the throes of severe anxiety and depression secondary to my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My psychologist recommended I write my story from the perspective of a narrative to try and see my story from the outside in. This was to enable me to read it as though it wasn’t my story and try to think of ways to help the person who’s story it was. It helped me immensely writing this, but I didn’t feel strong enough to share it until today.

Everyone is sharing their stories. They are talking about mental illness. Personal accounts, smashing stigmas that have survived years and years. Survivors coming out of the shadows to admit to a secret that we may not have been able to admit to previously, for fear of feeling outcasted by our families and friends.

Thank you for stopping by to read my story.

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The Beast. By Clair

One day out of the blue, a Beast knocked on my door. He was very persuasive and scary; I tried my best to keep him out, but eventually I had no choice to let him in.

At first he was easy to ignore. He would lurk quietly in the dark, hiding behind the furniture and under the bed, waiting for me to forget that he was there, growing stronger and stronger day by day.

He would come everywhere with me, to work, to the shops, even on holidays. Sometimes he was quiet and other times he was very loud. He would hitch a ride wherever he would fit. Some days he was happy to just ride in the car, but other days, to be on my shoulders, pushing all of his weight down onto me.

However, he was not happy to lurk forever. He wanted me to be focussed on him all of the time. So at first, I tried to keep him happy. I let him do whatever he pleased, as I was scared to try to stop him. I figured that if I kept him happy, I could get on with my life too. He was very strong and powerful. He was also very greedy and wanted more.

Sleeping was my only break from him. Then one time, he decided to visit me at night, while I was asleep. I no longer had any break from him.

He would place his hands upon me, so I could feel him.

He would make noise so I could hear him.

He would wave his arms about so I could see him.

He eventually stood in front of me all day, so all I could do was see him and nothing else. He stood between me and the people I cared about. Even closing my eyes didn’t work anymore.

I tried to carry on, but little things would remind me and he would appear.

After a while, the Beast introduced me to his Shadow. His Shadow was a terrible creature; it switched lights off. It closed the blinds. It blocked out the sun. The Beast and his Shadow were a perfect team, they worked together so well.

The Beast and his Shadow would talk to me, taunting me. They made me believe that I needed them both to get through the day. The Beast was telling me to ignore everyone else. I had him.

I was losing my ability to feel love. I forgot what it was like to feel happiness. I had to stop work. I couldn’t function. I struggled with the simplest of life’s chores. The Beast was smothering me with his weight and I was powerless to resist.

Being in the Shadow’s darkness all of the time, was frustrating and scary. I felt trapped. It made me so sad. The Shadow made me feel all alone in the world. The Shadow kept everything dark for so long, I had forgotten what it was like to see the light of day.

This went on for months. I had days where The Beast and his Shadow would let me see a little of the outside world. They would tease me. I would see something I liked and would remember see a hint of sunshine, but then they would take it all away again, plunging me back into the darkness that was gradually consuming everything.

Then one day came, where I reached breaking point. The Beast and his Shadow were standing before me, and I could not see anything except them. I felt angry, I’d had enough. My world was shattered and I was broken. So I screamed at them. I wasn’t going to be living under their power anymore. The Beast and his Shadow thought they had won, but I saw my chance to escape.

For this, they punished me. They closed in on me. They made me stay in bed and not talk to anyone.

I was alone in the dark all over again.

A little while later, I saw another chance to escape. This time I was stronger. I had help.

The Beast is still here with his Shadow, however he’s back to lurking in the dark, he knows that I am stronger than he is. Though he’s very persistent and he sometimes manages to get back in.

Sometimes I’m scared he’ll come back, for good, but I know that I’m now growing stronger every day he’s not hanging around like he was. I keep him away by talking. Even though I’m scared of him, I use all the courage I can muster to find a way to keep him at bay.

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On my welcome page, I have a list of services available to Australian residents. Please reach out and ask for help. It does take courage and it is scary. However I am here today because I did.

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Personal Best

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog in the last couple of weeks, nothing really to say, so rather than blog about nothing, I chose not to blog.

On Sunday, I participated in another fun run, Run Sydney 2013. This one was a 10km (6.3mi) course at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney. A flat course, no amazing scenery (such as the Harbour or Bondi Beach) however I did finish the run by running across the finish line in the main football stadium that’s there.

I felt like a real athlete! And as a friend said “you ARE a real athlete”. So yeah, I don’t have the physical attributes of someone who has been in peak physical fitness for years and I’ll never be an Olympian, but here I am, running fun runs like an athlete, because I am one.

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Over the last few weeks, there have been bushfires burning in the greater west of Sydney and the Blue Mountains and the smoke has made it particularly difficult to spend any time outside. So I stupidly did no training for this run. I could have gotten onto my treadmill, but honestly the machine that faces the window which overlooks a fence in suburbia, is the most boring thing to look at for a 5km training session. I did manage however, to set two new PB times! Breathing was very difficult, I felt like I was smoking cigarettes, when I got back in the car to drive home, I was coughing so much, but in the end it was worth it to push through.

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They’re mediocre times when you consider the woman who won, did 10km in 33 minutes, however, I’m looking at the bigger picture and seeing my achievements personally

Those of you who have been regular readers of this blog will know that the reason I started running, was because I got diagnosed with PTSD and PND in October 2012. A good friend of mine who is also very familiar (unfortunately) with The Black Dog also started running in an attempt to combat depression. I have used her as my constant inspiration and example. I look to her now and see an incredible woman who has overcome so much and is now loving life. Setting goals to achieve, smashing her own personal records and most importantly, keeping that Black Dog away. So even though I still have bad days (particularly from the PTSD) I know that getting outside (often the hardest thing to do when all I want to do is go to bed and cry) will help, even a little.

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At this stage my right hip was screaming at me, I was really struggling, but I still had 1km to go, so I had to keep pushing through.

I’m still sore today, but nowhere near as sore as yesterday. So today I’m going to get outside with Missy in her pram & go for a walk. I have another fun run in two weeks, so I need to train for it. Hopefully the fires will burn out and the smoke will clear and I can get back to evening runs.

I hope you’re having a great day and that if you’re reading this because you typed ‘depression’ into the search bar, you take away that it’s not going to be bad forever, you can be happy again. It’s not an immediate recovery, but it is possible xx

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Be PND Aware! PND Awareness Week 2012

It’s PND Awareness week, driven by PANDA .

As a result, there have been many mums and dads come out from the shadows and share their personal and harrowing accounts of their depression, anxiety and trauma. I feel so humbled and so privileged to have been involved in the sharing. I have read some terribly sad stories and have read some wonderfully uplifting stories. All real accounts of parents fighting their own inner battles, where they think they are alone, fumbling in the dark.

What’s so incredibly uplifting about PND Awareness week, is it hasn’t just been about telling those who have not been affected, but it’s also been a wonderful opportunity for those of us in the online community to let other vulnerable parents know that they are not alone. That even on their darkest days, where the isolation and depression is at its worst. When it feels like you’ll never come through the other side. There is another mum or dad out there struggling too. There are mums and dads out there who can tell their tales of triumph. It gives us who are still fumbling in the dark the knowledge that we too can beat The Beast.

I started this blog for a couple of reasons. I needed to get my feelings off my chest was first and foremost. Secondly, I wanted to share my story in the hope that another mum or dad who was hurting, may find my posts and seek help. It’s also this reason that I have linked other organisations to help, like Beyond Blue and also listing the phone number for Lifeline 131114. Proving that no matter how alone you feel, there is always someone out there who will be a sympathetic ear and will help you.

So thank you to everyone who has read my words this week. And previous weeks. Some of you have said that I am a strong woman and honestly, my strength as a whole comes from you all. My friends who’ve known of my struggle for a while now, have also been amazing. The love of my husband and my family. And finally, the absolute love of my baby girl. There have been days where I have resented her. I wouldn’t be sick if not for her, but I also wouldn’t know the greatest love of all without her.

Until next time my friends, xx

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Thank you PANDA