I can’t do this anymore…

Can’t do this anymore? Can’t even pretend to enjoy a life that is ill-fitting and uncomfortable? Does escaping into movies, books, theatre or travel seem like a more desirable alternative than living the life you have? Do day trips on ferries, trains and buses make you giddy with joy because you get to leave your problems behind? My friend, life isn’t mean to be like this. It has to mean more. It is altogether horrid to feel a knot inside your gut and anxiety return at the mere whiff of the need to return to everyday life.

I know people who are putting off medical check-ups because they are scared of what will be revealed. They cram their calendar so that there just isn’t the time. I know people who are so heartbroken that they escape to the big city any chance they have so they don’t have to deal with awkward chatter with the strangers they live with. Strangers that they once married and thought that they knew. I know dear folks who hate their jobs and homes, towns and circumstance. One dear soul burst into tears when upon a chance meeting, I inquired as to how she was. She asked what she had done to deserve such misery, explaining that she had done everything in her power to turn things around. “You and I both know that you have,” I replied. “You have done everything a human being can possibly do. Now, you have to let go and wait for the answers.” The answers don’t come by holding on to a life you have outgrown. It doesn’t come by running away, sedating yourself or procrastinating. It comes by doing everything you know shall assist you to obtain a better future, and shaking up your world, oft terrifying yourself in the process.

A dear family I know are going to Europe for a year. They are artists, and have outgrown the life they had been living. They don’t know the language and have never been to these particular countries. They don’t know anyone there. If they don’t do what their soul yearns to do, they will wither. Everything must change. I have friends who are giving up apartments to travel Australia and then the world. I have friends who have bitten the bullet and had niggling health concerns seen to, hence saving them a world of heartache long-term.

There comes a time when the pain of staying; of procrastinating, far outweighs the terror of leaving. When that time comes, you must shake up your entire world. Do what you can, then wait for what was meant for you. It will come. A rule of physics is that a perfect vacuum is a place devoid of matter. Emptiness can’t exert a force on objects travelling through it. It is being taken someplace. The getting there can often suck (pardon the pun), but you will find yourself planted soon enough. The worst that could happen is staying unhappily where you are. If the thought of your life remaining as it is five years from now fills you with horror, it’s time to think about what’s required to reframe the picture. This life is too precious to settle. It is akin to dying on a daily basis. You were built for more than that.

I remember when it became clear that my child needed more than what her school could provide for her dyslexia. I came home and opened a bottle of red. I felt despair and then allowed myself the luxury of unleashing my imagination. I gave myself a year, to prove I could  home school my daughter. Now in her fourth year, she is a voracious reader, has acted, sung on stages in front of thousands, climbed the tallest tree in Australia, and is a confident eleven year old. Oh yes, I second-guessed myself, and fretted that I was doing the wrong thing. It got to the point that even if it did turn out to be a disaster, at least we had tried. We simply couldn’t have kept going as we were. What is the worst that can happen? A disease is picked up early, you fly by the seat of your pants, you now know what you want to do, or what works by discovering what didn’t? At least you know how it could have turned out. At least there will be no regrets when you are eighty.

Dream outrageous dreams, and think outlandish thoughts, then change things. Take charge and then let go.

Changing Minds

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I have slowed down, and my brain (and life) are better for it. I am actually letting myself feel the physical pain that I endure. It hurts, but it is real. It appreciates being felt. I am still limiting my caffeine intake and exercise in the sunshine each day. I am eating regularly and acknowledging feelings as they come up. It hasn’t been as overwhelming as I feared.

A production crew are shooting the next season of the excellent series Changing Minds in the district I live in. It will be shown on the ABC later this year. A beautiful mum I know was interviewed the other day by the crew. She was so brave as she turned her face to the winter sun and talked about her depression. How it felled her, and how she is making her comeback. I was in awe of her. The production crew impressed me with their sensitivity and empathy. The mental health sector needs more funding, and it needs it now.

I well remember when I searched for help for a loved one several years ago. I was frightened for them, that they may not make it. Time was of the essence. There was a procession of psychologists, doctors, scans, blood tests, and diagnosis’. Some believed this person had an adrenal issue, others believed it was hormonal. Still others believed it was depression. There were about ten different diagnosis before bipolar was diagnosed. I was left to sort through all the information as this person was too ill to do it themselves. Alternative health practitioners became involved in case it was dietary. You will try anything when you are so ill. The person became sicker. I turned to a church who offered counselling. I was asked whether this person’s family had ever been involved in the Masonic practice. I was bemused and asked  what this had to do with mental health. I was told that curses can be carried through bloodlines. I was aghast that no practical help was offered. It made this person become more insular, to everyone’s detriment.

Finally, a mental health service opened in our town. A place I was able to get to easily and which was free. As a support person, I was going down, and these people could see it. I was given excellent advice and was able to remain on an even keel whilst helping this loved one. I looked forward to my visits, and finding a workable way of life, for myself and this person. I rang to make an appointment late last year, only to find that this service had closed. The local mental health unit do their very best with limited resources. It is immensely frustrating and heart-rending for the staff. It took years for this person to reach a proper diagnosis. I am so thankful that they held on for it. They are stable, though their grip on life can be tenuous. I look forward to watching the next season of Changing Minds. I look forward to hearing from the dedicated staff, who do their level best in a system plagued with funding cuts and politics. I look forward to hearing the stories of the clients, who have been through hell and keep paddling. You all amaze and astound me with your iron will. There is something inside that makes you hold on; the promise of a beautiful future filled with restful sleep and wondrous times. Keep holding on.