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Sleep Success and Some Dodgy Mothering

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Sweet Sleep

Sweet Sleep

A few weeks ago now I had dinner with a couple of girlfriends and was encouraged to take some more “me time”. I had to laugh at the suggestion (on the inside of course) but did my very best to take on the encouragement and went to the movies with Bella. You may remember the fallout from last time I was here. It wasn’t good.

Exasperated, I tried to explain to my girlfriends that the real struggle I had, head and shoulders above the rest, was sleep deprivation which made little challenges like a crying baby in a movie almost unbearable to deal with.

Unfortunately, a sleeping baby seems to be the pin up of good parenting, the holy grail if you will. I’ve written about this all before. But it seems that by some miracle, Bella heard the conversation I had with my girlfriends, heard the desperation in my voice and saw the tears and decided that very night to sleep the whole time I decided to. She has continued to do so ever since. In fact, she seems to have transformed into this little snuggle bug who at about 9 o’clock each evening, presents herself to me on the floor face down, asking for a massage. When she decides she’s had enough, she turns around, climbs onto my lap for a kiss goodnight and then motions for her bed.

This is what I would class as an almost supernatural occurrence of masterful proportions. And you know what? I’m as proud as punch. I’m proud because I stuck to my guns for the last 14 months and continued to feed, cuddle and sleep with her when others told me not to. I did it even when I was exhausted and teary and even when my doctor told me my lack of rest was becoming dangerous given my history of depression. But what makes me so proud is that despite being warned that my constant responsiveness to her (or spoiling) would render her needy and insecure without me, she now after sleeping with me and then just in my room, sleeps happily in her cot. FOR THE NIGHT!

Oh sweet sleep. How I had longed for thee.

Now after some gratuitous pats on my own back I have discovered a new delight I hadn’t anticipated. I’m not crazy after all. I’ve started reading again, planning for the future and worrying about how I look. Ok, the last bit isn’t so great but it certainly does indicate I am thinking more about me and less about all things Bella. I hadn’t realised that getting up so many times a night had left me feeling a little bit like the walking dead. I’m excited, that’s all I’m saying.

Here’s the thing, since I’ve become a mother and realised how truly challenging it can be I have become a lot less judgemental about how other people live their lives. I’ve done things on my own parenting travels which I’m not proud of and which quite frankly I’d rather keep quiet. As my sister puts it, “who cares if you use a dummy (pacifier) or not, what are we all fighting about?!”

We rarely put it out there, the things we’re not proud of. It’s hard to admit that you may parent occasionally in a way that is not synonymous with how you see yourself. Is it okay to be an “attachment parent” and use a dummy (pacifier)? Is it okay to bottle feed and co-sleep? You catch my drift. We are so nervous about being judged by other mums and so intent on keeping up the air of maternal perfection, we don’t share with the very people who just may be able to sympathise. Here are some of my insecurities, in no particular order:

I bottle fed. When Bella was on the breast, I cried every time she was crying, knowing I would have to put her on and became terrified of her because it hurt so much. I used a dummy from the very first moment I couldn’t soothe Bella on my own (she is now pretty much addicted to said dummy). I regularly give Bella processed cheese (She loves it what can I say). She watches television (there, I said it). When she was really tiny, sometimes she’s stay in her bouncer for hours because I was so tired. Sometimes when she’s bored and whinging, I give her a snack even though I’m pretty sure she’s not hungry. She regularly plays with my iPhone. Sometimes she’s tugging at my pants for attention and I ignore it because I’m looking at Facebook. I once found her playing with my razor; more specifically “brushing her hair” with the razor (you can imagine…). She once drank my coffee when I was out of the room and was buzzing for hours (totally weird she liked it I know). I used to drink heavily and dump my milk, giving her formula just so I could go out. My husband dropped her in the bath one night. I regularly turn five consecutive pages of a book at once hoping she won’t notice because I can’t be bothered reading to her. I’ve smelt her nappy first and pretended I hadn’t till the Toolman does. At times I have longed to be alone without her. At times I have longed for my life before her.

But all the time I have loved her. And I have done a lot well too. I know we are not supposed to say that. We’re not supposed to tell each other that we think we are good mothers and we’re certainly not supposed to tell each other what we do that’s a bit dodgy.

But today I am telling you and I’m also saying that on the sleep front, things have finally worked out for us. I made an informed choice about how to manage my lack of sleep  and I’m so glad I persisted in following my instincts. It may change and I really hope it doesn’t but for now, I’m a happy, sometimes dodgy mama.

So whatever your thing is, try telling someone around you. Tell them what you’re embarrassed about and tell them what you do well. We don’t have to be perfect. You never know, they may just do the same.

*If are struggling with sleep and would like some more info on why I chose the to refrain from using sleep traingin techniques, you can follow this link.

http://www.pinky-mychild.com/sleep/sleep-articles/the-con-of-controlled-crying

 

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Raising Healthy Girls and the Diet Trap

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Bella out with her friend Ninja: Making health and exercise part of our life

Bella out with her friend Ninja: Making health and exercise part of our life

“Bread goes straight to the hips Bella” my friend caught me saying this morning.

“I thought you weren’t going to talk to Bella like that” she said. Busted. Big time. There I was perpetuating the generational cycle again. Message given: bread bad but delicious, therefore should be eaten in large amounts behind closed doors in a binge like fashion. Not to mention the message about a woman’s hips needing to be a certain shape.

Those who have followed this blog will remember my entries about weight loss. What I have failed to mention here lately is that since Bella was born I have been trying to shed the weight that I gained whilst pregnant.

Let me recap quickly for you. 2007: got married. 2008: became depressed and spent the best part of 18 months rotting away in a psychiatric unit trying to recover but nonetheless, gained 40 kilos in the process (talk about “blowing out” after marriage right?). 2010: got well on the road to recovery, jumped back into life and started down the weight loss path and lost 30 kilos by Christmas 2011. 2012: carried Bella to term and somehow managed to put it all back on.

Now I know what you’re thinking, why did I do it to myself again? Well I can honestly say, I had no idea it was happening. I didn’t own scales at the time and as my big belly grew, the fact that my ass was growing at the same time seemed to elude me. Sure, I couldn’t fit into my clothes but wasn’t that a product of the pregnancy? Apparently not.

So a couple of months after having Bella I procured some scales and was absolutely astounded to see that I had gained over 25 kilos. No, it wasn’t fluid and she was a few months old at that point so it definitely wasn’t her. It was just fat. Friggin fat..again! Deep breath.

Before I fell pregnant I was ten kilos away from my goal weight which by the way was not thin but very comfortable. Having Bella has just put a little stumble block in the way of returning to that goal. The good news is that I have managed to lose 22 of those kilos since that dreaded day on the scales a few months after she was born. But I now have to finish what I started in 2010 and lose that extra ten and get back into wedding dress shape.

But I’m so darn tired of it. I’m tired of this being an issue and I’m tired of being in the proverbial no man’s land when it comes to shopping (every other size 16 woman on the planet knows what I mean when I say this!). But most of all, this little problem needs to be nipped in the bud quick sticks if I’m to set a great example for Bella.

Just to be clear, the example I’m aiming for is not to be thin and beautiful. It’s to be healthy and happy. I’m a short woman so pushing 80 kilos around is not healthy and it certainly ain’t happy. So for the last six months I’ve been pushing the pram up and down hills, over creeks and under bridges. I even went to a Zumba class for seniors last week for heaven’s sake (which by the way was delightful)!

But all that aside, as well as the self-ingratiating sentiment that by doing all this I am somehow being a good mother, I went along this morning and managed to demonstrate that I really haven’t got the picture yet.

So how do we raise these girls of ours then? I read a quote from Kate Winslet that said “As a child I never heard one woman say to me I love my body…no one woman ever said I am so proud of my body. So I make sure to say it to Mia because a positive outlook has to start at an early age”. This quote had quite an effect on me and for some time I tried to follow suit. I started small and told Bella that I really like my fingers and then slowly ventured up to telling her I liked my tummy.

But it felt weird and it went against everything I have been taught about modesty. Perhaps it isn’t right to raise a little girl who goes into interactions with other little girls talking about how beautiful she is anyway? But mainly, I’m not a liar and my stomach resembles more of a circus act than anything else. Like the rest of me, it’s just hanging around waiting for the plastic surgeon to arrive.

Perhaps the best thing is to not mention anything at all; not food, not my fingers, not even my curly mop which Bella seems to have been blessed with as well. Maybe by some sheer luck of the draw she will be a confident little girl despite all the images she sees in the media and her mother’s venomous dislike of her body. But I doubt it.

I fear it’s my job to do this one thing right. And all I know right now is that it starts with those hills and that pram and the last ten kilos so that Bella only knows a mother on the beach who is bouncing around in all her stretch-marked glory with confidence, rather than hiding under an oversized caftan. And while I’m at it, there’s only so much holding-the-camera-above-your-head-whilst-simultaneously-pulling-your-chin-out-and-placing-your-hand-on-your-hip can do for the Christmas photos. Perhaps if I’m happy though, she’ll know no other condition but to be such.

With some embarrassment I’m owning up to my folly during pregnancy and making the public resolution I made here some three years ago. This weight has got to go.

So all together now, collective sigh….Here’s to 2013 and lacy knickers.

P.s. G-srings, boxers, briefs, (new addition of Spanx) and nudies also welcome.

The Break Up

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This year, once again I found myself beach bound with too much luggage and an incapacity to resolve in my mind the fact that I had not achieved what I set out for myself at the start of the year: to never go through a fat summer again. Imagine an overweight woman, sitting by the window, watching her family and friends outside in the Australian sun. Now watch her look down at herself, her stomach, and then back outside. She turns side on to look at her reflection in the mirror, checking no one is coming, then back outside. Looking square on in the mirror, she fluffs up her curls a little. “Right, you did this, so off you go”.

Every slim young thing that walked passed my camping site and it must be said, all those sitting at my very own table only highlighted to me how much I was still a physical disappointment, and my preoccupation with it only highlighted to me I’m a mental lightweight. I was unable to put aside the feelings of inadequacy and enjoy myself, falling further and further into a rather low state.

I must admit that for the past few months, and possibly a contributing factor accounting for my blog silence, I felt a creeping feeling of failure sneak up on me. There’s been something in the background, something I just couldn’t quite see clearly, shaking its finger at me and daring me to respond. Silencing that little voice inside*, I’ve tried to move quickly into action, keeping as busy as possible to avoid inviting over the black dog to bark at my backdoor.

As someone very talented in the art of emotional diversion, I convinced myself that the problem lay within the domain of my marriage. Namely, that I have never done anything to make my husband proud of me and therefore respect me. Such was my delusion, when watching a Grand Slam hosted in my home town, I actually wondered whether I could transform myself into a tennis-superstar-come-lately simply to impress the toolman.

Feminists put the gun down, you don’t want to waste that one bullet just yet.

On arriving home from my camping trip, I successfully humoured my gloomy disposition and opened and closed every cupboard in the house until I found a card I received from my family ten years ago before I left for Italy on a year long study trip. Along with the “Ciao Bellas” and the “Good Lucks” were more than a few messages that indicated that “the Italian boys will just love you” and one message from my mother’s dear friend that actually said, “Good Luck Darling. They’re going to love your shape”. My shape? Tucked inside the card was a photo taken of me before I left. I stared at it for a long time, wiping the tears from my eyes.

That was who was in the back of my mind. The old me, holding me hostage and incapacitating the me that lives in 2011. For the past two years, I’ve been holding up a ten year old image of myself as the picture perfect unattainable range of who I should be. And in every corner of my house was a relic that told the narrative of my disappointment and my endless consumption to compensate.

The next day, I called, booked and paid for a commercial skip to be delivered to my house. For the past week I have emptied, cleaned and purged all the things that have been terrorising me. I walked up and down the incline of my drive, sweating and puffing. After watching me all week, the two men who live next door (and who I might add have not spoken to me in five years) caught me, cottage cheese bum in the air, fishing out a pair of tiny olive pants during a bout of post-throw-dissonance.

“Are you moving?” they yelled.

My sweaty, frizz haloed head popped out from the depths of the bin. “Huh? Oh, no. I’m a Buddhist now. I don’t need stuff”. Ok, yes. I admit I’m odd but seeing as I’m quite partial to oversharing, it was the easiest way to escape unscathed.

When the skip drove off on the back of a truck, I thought my work was done. But as I watched it turn the corner, I realised I was broken, that I’m not who I was born to be. So I sat down (and here’s the bit where you’ll have to reserve judgement about my sanity) and had a little talk with myself. The me I’m supposed to be has the innocence of a child, without fancy things and shiny hair, nor is she a heavily committed working woman (you want that bullet now?). She’s a fit mother, able to live her life. Able to jump in a river without hiding anything, run a little without collapsing and sit with her family without shame. And you know what else; I really don’t need any stuff to get that.

It was time to Break Up with myself!

So I did what any good woman does after a break up; I cleaned my fingers red raw. Up on ladders, down on knees, climbing on top of baths, toilets and sinks. And each day as I’ve said goodbye to another little piece of me, I’ve put less and less into my body to quieten that doubting voice. No doubt we’ll have conversations in the future, discuss some misery over some bread and cheese, but I don’t think we’ll fight.

Perhaps I’m a getting just a little bit too abstract on you here? I did a spot of cleaning, so what? A better illustration of my state of mind may be in the response I gave to a cleaning shop owner a few days ago. On my third visit during a single week his curiosity finally got the better of him and he asked,

“Let me guess. You’re a caterer? A chef? A cleaner?”

I paused ever so slightly and then responded, “Umm, I’m not too sure. I think I’m a nurse”. And with that I left, realising that I had spoken the truth; that I’m not sure where I’m going or who I’ll be at the end of this year. It could all go wrong, or bad, or right. And perhaps I am not of sound mind right now…

But give a girl a break, I have been through a break up after all.

* Note: There is no actual foreign voice inside my head. Call off the Doc’s Ma.

Knee Jerk Reaction

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I’m yet to meet an adult that doesn’t cringe with the memories of their adolescence, regardless of how enlightened their parents were in dealing with their intrapsychic conflict (yes, I’ve obviously thought about this before). I was a rather gregarious teenager when it suited me but I also I suffered from what seems to be the unavoidable feelings of inadequacy that tend to go hand in hand with the period.

I maintain fiercely that adolescence is the most horrific time in ones life, only to be remembered fondly in later years with sentimental notions of skinny dipping in creeks and innocent kisses behind sheds. In reality, what we tend to forget is the girl in the year above yelling “Mooooooo!” and we disrobe and the boy of our dreams coaxing us behind the shed to laugh an “In Your Dreams!” in our face. But don’t pull out the tissue box on my behalf, scrape back the layers a little and I assure you, they’ll be something there for you too. Or better yet, just ask a sibling – they’re programmed to remember your most embarrassing moments!

So it was all this that came flooding back to me, in an unpredictable way when I was at the gym today. Having joined for the sheer fact that I would be amongst fellow “granny-knicker” wearers, I was shocked when faced with a demographic I had not accounted for when joining…the private schoolgirl!

Having not yet successfully evolved into true womanhood, I don’t find myself always able to look on with enough distance for these girls not to bother me. Instead of looking on with a “gee, I’m glad that’s over” sentiment, I found myself today wanting to hide inside the machine I was at that time straddling.

For some reason I haven’t yet understood, I perceive the fake tans, long nails and perfectly tinted hair as a personal attack. Perhaps I’m waiting for them to pull my school dress up as I bend over to fix my shoe.

I should at this time clarify that I wasn’t a bullied schoolgirl, and shamefully probably straddled the line of the bully myself. And maybe that’s why I’m afraid of girls, because I know that if I was capable of producing a “hey you” instead of addressing someone by their name, perhaps someone with a more compromised constitution could do worse to me now.

Perhaps all this is why I hurt my back today. Within three minutes, I let a 14 years old resembling a Whippet coax me into a rather enthusiastic knee-kick-with-hip-twist scenario, fuelled by the beat of Mamma Mia playing loudly from the speakers.

As the Mamma’s and the Mia’s blared out at a steady pace, the increased panting on the station across the room, propelled me into a double beat of kicking and twisting which I’m sure resembled a chubby woman trying to simultaneously stuff herself into a too-tight pair of jeans with matching turtleneck.

I’ve been on the couch, albeit laptop on lap, since my completely one sided showdown, wondering once more how on earth I got myself into this situation. You know, the one where I have all this blubber on rather important womanly bits that just won’t seem to go. Perhaps I should just end it all, throw in the bucket and declare myself “curvaceous, womanly, with more to hang onto”. Hmmmm…

Either way, perhaps a mixed and testosterone fuelled work out environment might have been a better choice. At least then, I wouldn’t hurt myself trying to compete.

Well, Well, Well…

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Well well well, what do we have here? I’ve found it increasingly difficult to recognize my own good self recently. My “go-getter” status has definitely reached a new high, depending on who you ask of course. In actual fact, I seem to be slowly but surely morphing into my father.

When this afternoon I was daydreaming about my newly purchased attachment for the garden hose (do you know what those things can do these days?) and found myself calling my husband to see if he could bring home an empty milk bottle so that I might concoct a home made dripper for my basil, I realized I’d gone too far.

I wasn’t quite ready to tear myself away, so whilst I watered (the mist nozzle really gets me going by the way), I considered whether I actually had tipped over the “cat-lady-rose-bush-croc-wearing” line.

The funny thing is that like a mysterious beast of prey, you wouldn’t know what I was truly capable of upon meeting me; that I would be daydreaming about giving the corn (yes corn!) a good mulch and crying with delight when I found a worm in the compost. Unfortunately I live only a few kilometres from the city of Melbourne and therefore live with what could most generously be described as a large courtyard with a small lawn.

I grew up in the city but find that I move ever so gently, year by year, towards being a woman I would have never thought I would know. The vain city girl still lives strong; the biggest indicator of which is evident in all the fantasies I have about moving to a more rural area.

My fantasies always involve a great set of pins in tight jeans, bouncy hair and (I can hear the collective sigh of us fat girl now), a beautiful shirt tucked in to said jeans. Ah….the serenity…

Unfortunately little dreams don’t manifest themselves, so in the last few days, I’ve stepped into a new world, hoping to help me get back on track. Anyone following my weight loss would see, blaringly obviously, that I haven’t lost any significant weight in some time.

The difference in my appearance has motivated many to comment positively on how I look, inadvertently resulting in a release on the weight loss accelerator. But well aware of a job half done, I decided to take up a free trial at my local gym.

Not so much a gym as it is an oestrogen laden, sweat soaked women’s group, where middle aged gals doodle their way through a serious of hydraulic machines, enjoying a good dose of Abba coming through the speakers.

Needless to say, when I walked in, I knew instantly that it was the place for me to be. Free trial up and a decision about joining imminent, I went in today to complete my final workout free of charge. It was only when a woman walked in, donned in lycra and a sweat band rolled and tied around her forehead, all coordinated of course, I realised that I couldn’t possibly be more comical than that and would therefore be quite happy there.

Unfortunately joining seems to be more difficult that one would expect. You need to make an appointment for a fitness assessment, at which point I’m sure I’ll be sold all sorts of pointless gym-ing paraphernalia. When I finished my final trial, I walked up seriously to the young girl behind the desk,

“Now I’ve decided that I would like to join. I think this could work for me”

“Well, you have to book in for your assessment. Tomorrow’s no good, Friday’s no good. Why don’t you call next week?”

My face dropped. I had half expected a brass band to emerge from the staff room with a personalised congratulatory rendition of It’s Raining Men, every girls’ power song (C’mon, you know it is!). Alas, nothing; not even a discrete applause. It put me off enough to consider backing out.

But some places you have to get to on your own. And it could be the crazy in me, but lately I’ve been carrying my own little orchestra inside anyway…

Just As It Is

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“Must write blog, must write blog” has been in the back of my mind since I returned.  Unfortunately, I’ve been must-ing my way around my home town, straight back into the groove of daily life, hanging hopelessly onto the memories of a trip now passed.

There are a few minefields one faces upon return from a holiday when re-telling their holiday adventures. Unfortunately, there is always the danger of painstakingly recounting what is to others, an utterly boring he-said she-said; there’s a risk of going on far too long about the meal you just didn’t want to miss, and of course, it’s easy to forget that those nodding appreciatively have most likely been scraping baked beans from a can while you were stuffing your face with crayfish, taking happy-snaps.

A few days ago someone asked me to see photos. I directed them to Facebook in their own time but they pressed me for a personal viewing. Filled with trepidation, I obliged. But 15 photos in, one party had walked off; the other yawned awkwardly, declared they had to go and then left the house completely. When I found myself starting a sentence of explanation and then realised that by the end of the sentence, there was no one left to make eye contact with, I knew it was over.

“See! See! This is why I didn’t want to do it”. Other people’s photos are always best viewed in private. Mainly so you can flick through the scenic shots that have no context for you, but also to reduce the awkward dilemma of trying to wind up the conversation before a yawn creeps into the back of your throat.

Most important of all, how does one having travelled to a country like Africa not reconstruct moments, people and conversations with just a touch of the clichéd? Descriptions of wildlife, mountain ranges and canyons can’t really be made without using words like majestic and splendour, both of which make my eyes water with embarrassment, so I tend to not say much at all.

The most special of moments I had were not because of the scenery or cities. They were with people I met and the conversations I had with them, resulting in a shared experience that couldn’t be easily translated. And sometimes, if you are open to it, special things can happen that you don’t want to share anyway.

Perhaps my experiences over the past few years, in a strange way, prepared me well for the trip. If you open your eyes, but close your heart just a little bit, you’ll be well equipped to see everything there is to see. And it has to be said (simply because it’s true), magical (oops!) things can happen there.

Luckily for me, my moment of fat-girl emancipation in the form of riding an African ostrich, just as my grandmother did many years ago, never occurred. I was just that bit too heavy, which means I just might have to go back some time soon!

Holidays have a sneaky way of making people see the light. ‘When I get home, some things are going to change’ is a sentiment we’ve all experienced. It’s a diet, more exercise, more time for reading, leisurely weekends…always something.

But if I learnt nothing else, I learnt to think less, smile more and yes, it has to be said, realise that even though I may choose to, changes aren’t necessary.

I’m a lucky little bugger, just as it is…

A Digression of Confession

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I haven’t hit the keys recently as I haven’t felt tempered enough to restrict the “ranty” monologues going on in my mind that I’m susceptible to experience at any moment. Most people who know me understand that if you ask “what do you think about ____”, you’re going to get an honest answer and a rant that may have been lying dormant for days. Most recently, as I was lying on the couch feeling unwell, the toolman only knew it was serious when he realized I wasn’t yelling at the television. Sadly, I like to watch poorly produced current affair programs and do just that. 

Unfortunately, this negative energy can result in many of us being exceptionally good at telling ourselves what we do badly instead of what we do well. I have no problem accepting that I’m great at this little habit! But sometimes, we have to step back, take a breath and give a well rounded high five into the mirror (of course whilst alone and out of ear shot of anyone with a heartbeat).

But first, let me digress…and confess.

A year ago, I walked out of an in-patient psychiatric facility with only a mere hope that I might not be going back in but with the expectation that I would. Eighteen months before that time, I walked into my bedroom, woke up my husband and completely out of the blue started sobbing. For the first half an hour he asked me what was wrong. When I started wailing, actually wailing, he went quiet, climbed into bed and wrapped me up in his arms for the next hour until I stopped. When that ended, all I could say to him was,

“I’m not going back there. I’m not going to do this”.

He had no idea what that meant and in truth, at the time, I had no idea what that meant but had a suspicion I was unraveling. Whether “there” was a past I was referring to; whether it was an uncanny foresight that my life was going to completely change, I’m still not sure.

A month after this little voyage into the dark recesses of my mind, and after a little detour to examine any possibility that my problems were physiological; I packed a bag and was admitted into a psych unit.

Just five months after I married, when I thought I would be starting a family, I was getting my bag searched and my nail file taken from me. Over 18 months, I had six admissions, staying up to three months at a time; searching for the right medication, searching for the right plan, searching for something that would make it all better.

Our minds are curious and private places. Without doubt they can do strange things to us- make us wish we were no longer, force us to look for an out. The absolute black anguish one feels in the depth of depression is insufferable. Wanting this to end is the reason people who suffer from it are self destructive.

Unfortunately such an illness is difficult to understand, I understand this. But it’s an illness of mood and no amount of “rest” can fix the problem. Questions that ask “what do you have to be depressed about?”, or “just think of all the other people that have it worse that you”, do not help. Those that live on the margins of life already carry enough guilt about what their illness does to those around them.

When someone in your life is sick, in a way you have already lost them. But when someone in your life has a mental illness, the issue is still so taboo that the person who suffers, loses people in their lives too. Over the eighteen months I was in and out of the facility, people came and went. Some called, some came, some didn’t. But when people have a “normal” illness, there are a few guidebooks: flowers, cards, phone calls.

Many friendships were made in hospital, some hilarious situations experienced, and a week of death threats by knife from a co-patient. I’m sure it will write a great story one day. But more than anything, what those that I have met in my situation also feel is that we are now walking around with a little scar on our underbellies that no one can see, and if they can, they never mention.

My husband, like many of those with ill wives, anticipated the death of his wife at her hands. He felt helpless, out of control and has admitted to me since, “I didn’t think you would make it”.

For the first three months of my first admission, the toolman travelled an hour in traffic into the hospital, ate with me and played cards, and retuned home. As the months passed and he saw me getting worse and not better, without any other way to cope and with fear rising, he became quiet as my illness became louder.

I did have the support of family while I was in there and I don’t doubt the love they have for me. They saw me laugh, cry and fall silent. But my man was subject to a changed wife and lost his best friend. And now, with him, that scarred underbelly is seen and for that I am indebted.

As I transformed inside, the changes on the outside were vast. Gaining 40 kilos during this time was the least of my problems. But as I got better, the effects of my waist became worse and I found myself here, creating this blog.

Having said all that, I walked out of that place this time last August and whilst it has remained a bit of a slog at times, I’m over 20 kilos down now, a qualification nearly obtained and as if it couldn’t have come at a more momentous time, next weekend, the toolman and I are off to a-wimoweh our way around South Africa on holiday.

Moods need to be controlled, thoughts need to be monitored, a watchful eye kept out for the black dog, sheep or whatever it is. But Life can change and strangely, in a way, I’m a very lucky girl!

So for the next few weeks, let the good times flow baby. Lets spot the big five, dine on whatever it is there is to taste and get so snap-happy we’re dizzy from it.

Doesn’t seem I can help myself can I? When I open my mouth, a rant inevitably comes out…