PTSD-Understanding Yourself

This article by Pete Walker astounded me with the breadth of knowledge and detail entailed. I could identify with it, thinking no wonder I am tired! Recovery is a full-time job in itself, and by that I mean recovering who you were before the events, and who you were set to become. It is confronting (albeit healing), to uncover why you do the things you do, and respond the way you do. Your beautiful, brilliant mind conjured up all sorts of ways to cope!

Life, it happens.

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What a month it has been. There you are, minding your own business, attempting to keep your home, career and life in order, and a big pile of manure is dropped from afar. I had eight further titles planned, ranging from children’s books to adult fiction and also an historical novel set in Sydney. That one is particularly interesting, having interviewed some real characters a while back, who told me some unknown goings-on in the city of sails. Will I continue working on these titles until they are ready to be brought into the light? You bet! They came into my mind for a reason, and I will see it through. I have to find a publisher, and I have to believe that it shall happen.

After my publisher folded, life became dark and heavy, as though I were cocooned in a grey film. I am a butterfly, dammit! I fought hard to metamorphose from a caterpillar! Back to the drawing board, back to the beginning. I have done it before, many times. Spending weeks in Intensive Care units at thirteen years of age, learning to walk again, starting a new cycle of IVF… I can do it; however, it doesn’t mean I like it. How many times can you dust yourself off? Hundreds of times, as it turns out.

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We lost this little guy this morning. His name was Snowball, and he was a real character. My daughter found him in a store where rescue animals are sold, and fell in love. I did too. He would look at me in disgust when I fed the other guinea pigs corn silk, and grab the juicy corn cob from my hands and run off with it. He broke into the girl’s side of the yard (partitioned off), and when I witnessed him “hugging” one of the girls, I asked him what he thought he was up to. I thought he was just being a bit full-on with his affections. He impregnated every girl, and soon we had lots of his babies. He was the Garfield of Guinea Pigs, either sleeping or eating. We would set him on the floor and whilst the other piggies would run, he would walk a few steps, then plonk down. He was poorly two nights ago, and we rushed him to the vet. They operated that night, as he was unable to pee. For two days we waited for news of his recovery. Bless you Snowball. You filled our lives with joy for the time we had you. The vet refused to take any money, which was incredibly kind.

I am sitting up in bed, sick with a bad virus. So much to do but with no energy to do it. I think it’s my body’s way of saying I have to stop for a while. Stop running and stop over-committing. Of course, as a mum home schooling her child, I can’t just crawl into bed and build a blanket fort, but I can slow down. I can plan our next house move whilst doing so, and I can dream at the same time. As I wrote in my book, just as I thought my story was winding down, I find it has only just begun. If you are going through hell, my advice is to keep going. Eat well, hydrate. Do only what is necessary. Let the world wait for your second-wind and recovery. This is exactly what I intend to do.

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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.