The Life of A Carer

It’s no secret that Fiancé (and I) have mental health problems – depression, anxiety and various non-illegal (but still ‘dangerous’) addictions. For one year and nine months, we have been each other carers. Lately, as I’ve gotten better and he has relapsed (and then spurned forth in early recovery) the main ‘caring’ has fallen to me. Added to this is the fact that my mum is also acutely unwell (and refusing to recognise it) … well, I have a lot on plate.

The role is unofficial – I receive no money from centerlink, no respite. Everyday, I wage war against the diseases and the diagnosis and I try to help two of the people I love the most out of the dark depths. Some days are great – Fiancé and I play putt putt and laugh all evening; Mum and I go shopping and talk all day. Other days are not so good – Fiancé shuts down; Mum bursts into tears at the drop of a hat. And every day I’m there, in my own recovery and doing uni, just wishing, hoping and praying that they will get better. Not just so that my life would be a little easier, but so that they would be able to do what they really want to do.

Fiancé is, thankfully, having more good days than bad at the moment. He is taking control of his therapy, of his life. I love it. I love seeing him shine through the darkness that has consumed him for most of this year. Mum, I think, is getting worse. But I can’t do anymore to help her than I already am. I can’t force her into treatment that she doesn’t even recognise she needs.

I did not write this post for sympathy. I just wanted to share. Each day is a battle, and a balancing act. Helping the people I love, while taking care of myself. Sometimes, I wish I could save them, but in the end they have to save themselves.

UGLY CRY

Today I had an UGLY CRY (well, several actually). For the uninitiated, an UGLY CRY is when you’re crying to hard that how have tears pouring down your face, snot dribbling out your nose and you can’t breathe properly, so you are forced to take those big gasping breaths. At the end, you generally feel quite good – if not happy, at least glad that things are off your chest.

Nothing really super huge happened to prompt the UGLY CRY session/s. It was just a lot of things.
Because my sister (who I love!) has managed to find the perfect job for next year.
Because she and her husband start the day off by praying together.
Because my chip packet had a best before date of 02/02/13, which was the date I was supposed to be getting married.
Because my mum keeps entering my room every area of my life without my permission or need or want.
Because I was having a ‘fat day’.
Because I have no money.
Because I couldn’t get in contact with Fiancé (he was at work).
Because the bus was late, so I missed my class.
Because exams are in a month.
Because of “all the oestrogen, George. Because of ALL the oestrogen.” (A Grey’s Anatomy quote – but it applies).

I then proceeded to rush off the Chatswood, hoping to find Fiancé after he finished work because what I needed more than anything was a hug from him. Somehow, I caught him just in time before he got on a bus. And he held me a told me that it was fine to cry. That he wished he had more time for me today, but that he will make up for it tomorrow. That he loves me. And so now, even though everything still sucks, I don’t feel the need to keep UGLY CRYING (at least for today.

Lots of my friends seem to having bad days, too. Is it something in the air?
If you’ve had a bad day, what / who helps?
When was the last time you had an UGLY CRY?

I’m not “Hot” or “Pretty” (but I am beautiful)

Looking at the title of this post, I feel quite conceited and self absorbed. I also feel a little bit scared. I am going to be talking about myself in real, honest ways which is not something one usually does on the internet. We hide behind our fake-ish personas and reveal only the things we want to. We delete the embarrassing things, censor our thoughts and words, say things we wouldn’t dream of saying in real life…

I was recently struck by this article on one of my favourite “blogsites” called KiKi&Tea.  The lovely author T, talks about how “Beauty is not skin deep. Beauty is when your soul shines out through your eyes. Beauty is when people want to be around you, when people are drawn to you because of who you are. Beauty is about the person you are. Beauty is kindness, caring, humility, empathy… Maybe I’m pretty, maybe I’m not, I don’t really care – I’d much rather be beautiful. Pretty fades, but beauty never does.”

I know I am not what popular culture would define as “pretty”. I spent a good 5 years of my life actively trying to achieve this unobtainable goal and I ended up in hospital because of it. I have saggy boobs and wobbly arms. I have stretch marks everywhere. My BMI of 32 puts me firmly in the ‘Obese’ range. I have a pointy chin and wild hair. My tummy sticks out and my knees roll in. I have scars. The thing is, most of these things that I don’t like about myself are things that I couldn’t change anyway. The chin, the hair and the knees are all genetic. The stretch marks come from incredibly rapid growth during puberty, the breasts from malfunctioning hormones. My scars are the result of my mental illness. Sure, I could diet & exercise like crazy to get to my ‘healthy weight range’ (as determined by maths) but my mind would probably suffer for it. And in the end, what would I achieve?

I already have a gorgeous fiancé. I’m studying at uni. I have wonderful friends. I can dance and sing (quite well, apparently). I know God made me exactly the way I should be – “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  your works are wonderful,  I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14) – and who am I to tell the Creator that he’s made me ‘wrong’? For so long I have focused on changing the inside, and forgotten about who I am on the inside. And anyway, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a person can be?

So now I leave you with some images & quotes to remind you that no one is perfect-looking, but everyone can be beautiful.
Including you. Including me.

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All that I am thankful for

Sometimes when my world feels overwhelming, like it does at the moment with assessments and exams at uni and a somewhat less than cool homelife, I forget that I have a lot to be thankful for. For starters, I have a God whose ‘love endures forver’ (Psalm 118) even when I forget to acknowledge all the good things He has given me and done for me. So here is a list of things I have to be thankful for today – some big, some little 🙂

  • My GP who is both a) hilarious and b) kind. She bulk bills me every session because she knows I don’t have heaps of money. She doesn’t have to, and she’s missing out on money by doing so. Clearly, she is pretty cool.
  • The chance to go to uni. And then change my mind about what I want to do.
  • 80c cans of diet coke from my local Woolies. Pretty awesome.
  • Blue sky
  • Watching my Fiancé belly dance at his 21st birthday dinner on Saturday (I wish I had a picture to show you!) He’s actually got pretty good rhythm.
  • Crispy towels off the washing line
  • Medicine. You wonderful inventions, you…
  • Friends who make me laugh
  • A roof over my head and food to eat and clothes to wear

So, I’m going to try to be thankful more often. My life doesn’t actually suck – there are plenty of good things in it.

Not a girl, not yet a woman (apparently)

I’m not a girl,
There is no need to protect me.
It’s time that I
Learn to face up to this on my own.
I’ve seen so much more than you know now,
So don’t tell me to shut my eyes.”

I have this problem, and I’m sure it’s not unique to me.
You see, I’m a twenty-something uni student still living at home with my parents. The cook for me and wash my clothes (we share the cleaning of the house).  This arrangement suits me fine most of the time…until we get into arguments over opinion / cleaning / my ‘space’ / what I’m allowed to do / what I should be doing. In a month, there is usually only a few days where I’m not actively fighting  (or in post fight wilderness) with at least one parent.They also seem to have a need to make a suggestion about every area of my life, and often come into my room without even knocking.  On top of everything uni / mental health / fiancé related, my home life gets to be utterly exhausting.

There is a ‘solution’, I know: Why don’t I just move out?
Well…it’s not actually a solution in my case. With no job, and a degree that demands from here in at least three unpaid prac weeks from me a semester, I have no money and no ability to earn any. I could go onto youth allowance (around $200/ fortnight if living away from home is not necessitated to go to uni) or newstart (more reasonable at over $400/fortnight, but with the added problems of needing to apply for TEN jobs / fortnight) . Neither of these amounts would even cover my living expenses in the Sydney private rental, even if I managed to find a flatmate that could deal with my neuroses…

So considering that my only real option, currently, is staying at home with my parents…What do I do?
How do I show them that I am, in fact, an adult?
How do I cope with their inflammatory remarks and encroachment on my space?
Basically…how do I tell them what my boundaries are, without isolating them? (or making them feel I’m ungrateful?)

 Please leave your advice / suggestions below (even if it’s just along the lines of ‘suck it up, princess!’)

This is a brilliant post about those annoying things called FEELINGS!

Captain Awkward

Dear Captain Awkward,

Three years ago, I skipped 8th grade and started high school.  Most people were awful about it, but several girls and one guy (ONE! In my WHOLE GRADE!) who actually spoke to me treated me like a was a human being with thoughts and feelings, because I AM.  Being sad, lonely, and scared, I became close to these people, and quickly developed a crush on That One Guy.

Everyone has a That One Guy (or Girl), who makes them feel happy and giddy and better on a crappy day, at some (or many) point(s) in their life.  Unfortunately, my current That One Guy has solidly Friend-zoned me.  He is kind and smart and athletic and funny and, while he’s not gorgeous, his personality makes him seem to me much more attractive than average, which is likely how a stranger would see him.  Yet he is COMPLETELY oblivious…

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It’s not our fault (but we’re always told it is)

WARNING: This post deals with the topic of sexual assault. If you think you will be triggered, please do not continue reading.

Those of you who know me, know I am a ‘victim’ of sexual abuse. It happened over a 9 month period, from  November 2005 to August 2006. He was the boyfriend of my best friend (then mine), I was the incredibly naive and insecure little girl. It began with seemingly harmless flirting, and ended with him raping me 8 days before my 16th birthday, then him’ breaking up’ with me and the subsequent demolition of my mental health. I was admitted into a locked adolescent psychiatric unit for 3 weeks and I’m *still* receiving therapy around it now. He chose me. He programmed me. He made me think everything was my fault.

And that’s the prevailing attitude in our society, whether overtly discussed (or not). Somehow, we have got it into our heads that victims of sexual abuse, bullying, and often murder are somehow to blame. In the past few weeks, I’ve heard my own mother talk about Jill Meagher, and how she shouldn’t have walked home alone at that time of night – like somehow, she is to blame for being killed. I know that my attacker, that Jill’s attacker would have found someone else if we hadn’t been available. In Jill’s case, maybe he would have chosen an unknown target, and still not been brought to justice (much like mine).

So here is the thing I want to say – IT IS NEVER THE VICTIM’S FAULT! 

I don’t care what they were wearing, where they were, who they were with, what they drank or even what they previously consented to. I don’t care what the colour of their skin is, if they’ve previously said something mean to you (or you think they did), I don’t care if they have a medical issue that makes them ‘different’. A victim is a victim. Don’t try to tell me that we’re safer walking home in groups, because more often the rapist or murderer is someone you know well. Don’t try to tell me that to ‘avoid being raped’ women should dress less revealing, because my attacker attacked my while I was in trackies, uggies and a jumper. Don’t try to tell me that they were “asking for it” for being out so late at night. Don’t try to tell me that ignoring the bully (or, conversely, standing up to them) is going to stop them. Don’t ever try to imply that the victim is ever at any fault or holds any responsibility for the horror that has occurred. It always  is the perpetrator’s responsibility, it is always the perpetrator’s fault.

To other survivors, I want to say this: As hard as it is, you have got to stop blaming yourself for what happened to you. Holding onto that thought means your attacker still has control over you. The good news is, you can break free. So take that chance and live your life according to your wants, your needs, your desires.