Tag Archives: life

Exhaustion

I haven’t been writing the last few days. Sorry, things have been all over the place. I will catch up on my letters at some stage. Things have been busy at times, and quiet at times, with no motivation to do anything other than lie in my bed with my kitten and stare at the ceiling. I spent Thursday night driving, and last night walking by the beach admiring the sculptures by the sea. Exams are looming. I’ve been disassociating more again, nightmares are worse, and I’m sleeping less, which is usually linked to how present I manage to be. I think I’m just completely physically and emotionally exhausted after the last month or so – which has been even more tiring than usual. I’m trying to keep myself centred.

I’m under instruction to answer my doctor’s daily calls for the moment, after ending up places I shouldn’t be without any knowledge of getting there. In an attempt to get myself out of this rut, I am spending the next two days studying with a friend at her house. Meaning: I have to get dressed, I have to brush my teeth, I have to take some notes, I have to engage in some conversation and I can’t drive places without someone realising. I also need to get at least one decent stint of sleep before Wednesday when Youth Health 2011 starts (which, despite being utterly exhausted, I am really looking forward to). I think the coming week is going to be somewhat overwhelming.

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Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for:

– Having amazing friends who are happy to sit and drink tea in silence
– The opportunity to study and to have access to an incredible library (with couches and beanbags)
– Having my drivers license and not having to get the train and walk in the rain today
– Knowing that despite things being hard at the moment, I can and will get through this
– My beautiful kitten who follows me around and cries when she wants me to pick her up for cuddles
– Knowing some super inspiring people and having long philosophical discussions with them today
– Finding Coke Zero with vanilla (I didn’t even know it existed!)
– My wonderful best friend who continues to give me boy advice even though she’s not currently in the country
– One of my lecturers who has offered to give some friends and I a crash course in statistics, free of charge
– My bed.

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Day 6: A stranger

Day 5: 30 letters in 30 days

Dear you,

I’m not sure who wrote this, but I would like to share it with you.

When the late Nadine Stair of Louisville, Kentucky, was 85 years old, she was asked what she would do if she had her life to live over again.

“I’d make more mistakes next time,” she said. “I’d relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been on this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

“You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, and a raincoat. If I had to do it over again, I would travel lighter than I have.

“If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds and I would pick more daisies.” 

I don’t want to look back at the end of my life and wish it were different. I’m entirely capable of making choices to lead the life I desire, and so are you. Do what you love, and do it now.

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Protected: The Choice

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Foundations

This year has been the first time I’ve really experienced any level of inner peace. I’ve discovered the things that are important to me, and let go of the things that were weighing me down. It’s so simple and so complicated: do what you love, and your life begins to resemble something which matters – in accordance with those values.

For 2011, these were my resolutions:

– Reassess friendships and build a positive network of people around me that bring out the best in me;
– Redefine self perception, replacing self hatred with acceptance;
– Make health (physical, mental, emotional) a priority & learn to believe that I’m worthy of being healthy/caring about my health;
– Be less cautious, take risks and opportunities and learn to live with less regret;
– Be grateful of the life I have, people & opportunities I have around me;
– Discover things I enjoy, develop hobbies & make time to do them;
– Invest in my future: career, money, university;
– Have new experiences: travel, volunteering…;
– In therapy, work on: trust; self hatred; fears of intimacy; self esteem and self value; confidence; mood & anxiety.

My ongoing battle is in learning to live without fear. It is largely based around past experiences, and drives so much of my life. While there is value in incorporating prior knowledge when taking on the future, this fear is holding me back. I can’t continue to live with one foot planted in the past. I’ve built the person I am around the beliefs that I am worthless, that I am unloveable, that I don’t deserve anything better.

I want to live a life that means something. A life centred around love, faith, trust, gratitude and courage. So my next goal is to let go of my fears. It’s a process that will involve breaking down beliefs which have formed the foundation of my psyche. I know it will be incredibly painful and destabilising – once the foundations begin to crumble, everything topples down. It’s something I have tried before to little success – leaving me losing myself completely. But I think it could also be a really empowering experience for me.

I’m going to do it differently this time: with support, with care, with self awareness. It will be immensely hard. But with those foundations smashed, I will be able to build on something far more solid.

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Contradictions

The last few months have left me feeling very contradicted in myself. I’m doing all these amazing, life affirming things like working with disadvantaged kids, volunteering with mental health foundations, flicking through the Eurail maps that arrived with my tickets – but at the same time the inside of my head is so… sick. Depressed, anxiety ridden, bursting with vivid memories and ideations.

I do things that I know I shouldn’t do and I feel so stupid, incapable. I want to reconcile the inside and outside, but I’m not even sure it’s possible. I know that some people do live with these struggles their entire lives, and I have constantly been predicted to be one of those people. But I don’t want to. I don’t want to be someone who has to accept that they will live dependent on medication and intermittent courses of ECT. I don’t want to be someone who has to admit that they are chronically depressed and traumatised.

From a treatment and development perspective, I don’t know what else I could possibly do to work harder at making something else of my future. My treatment team has no suggestions – they tell me that I am doing my best, and that I can’t blame myself for genetics, neurochemistry and experience. I just want to be free from this. But no matter what I do, things always come back to here.

I need to keep practicing mindfulness. Let go of the past, and don’t waste energy worrying about the future. I need to remember to be right here – in this second. Accept it, and appreciate it. Because despite everything, I am incredibly lucky.

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The Dalai Lama’s 18 Rules for Living

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three Rs:

  • Respect for self.
  • Respect for others.
  • Responsibility for all your actions.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

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Everything in the world

I’m generally a fairly patient person. I’m not one to get frustrated in traffic or worry about waiting for people, I’m happy to just sit and observe. But lately I have this burning feeling that I want to just be out there, in the world – doing, seeing, learning. I’ve not yet finished my first undergraduate degree and already I just want to get out of university and make a difference. I want to meet all different kinds of children and young people, I want to hear about their lives, I want to feel their experiences. I want to help those who don’t know how to help themselves yet.

I often get incredibly frustrated at how mundane university can be and how pointless it all feels, and I need to remind myself that there is a reason that I’m studying my arse off and constantly pushing myself. All the sleepless nights and anxiety attacks over exams – they will pay off. I just wish it would happen now.

Another thing I am currently preoccupied with is the feeling (the need) – I want to travel the world. I’ve spent some time in South East Asia and have done quite a bit of travel within Australia, but I want to be completely immersed in different cultures. I want to see. Over this summer I will be travelling to Vietnam, Italy, Spain, France, the UK and Northern America. I’ve already started tentatively planning my trip after this one – either to India or Borneo, to work as a volunteer, or to South America to stay in ashrams and work on farms. But there’s so much more I want to see and do – I want to stand in a paddock in the middle of Ireland and feel completely free. I want to sail around the Greek Islands and see the volcanoes in Iceland. I want to sit in the dirt and play with children in Africa.

I feel like the world is just so huge and I am just one person – but I want to see it all. I want to make a difference. There’s a crushing feeling that I can never be everything I want to be. There is so much desire in me, and one person can only do so much.

This quote has been resonating with me a lot lately:

“Listen – I want to run all my life, screaming at the top of my lungs. Let all of life be an unfettered howl. Like the crowd greeting the gladiator. Don’t stop to think, don’t interrupt the scream, exhale, release life’s rapture. Everything is blooming. Everything is flying. Everything is screaming, choking on its screams. Laughter. Running. Let down hair. This is what there is to life”
– Vladimir Nabokov

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Hopes & Hindsight

It’s a strange experience to be on the ‘other side’ of mental health providing. The last nine years of my life have been punctuated by hospital admissions, legally ordered treatments and countless appointments. And now, from where I am, it actually feels as though I’m looking back on those times, as opposed to being caught up in the whirlwind of them. I know I’m not entirely recovered – but I’m infinitely better than I once was.

I’m not one for religion or pinning things down to ‘fate’, but 2011 so far has been a whole new experience for me. It’s been about finding myself (as cliched as that sounds) – literally, picking up the pieces left after my past has settled and learning to form some semblance of an identity. I’ve re-assessed my relationships, values, health and hopes and I feel like I’ve come out a much more whole person than I have ever been before.

The people I have in my life now, the work I’m doing with various organisations and the degree I’m studying – for once it feels like I’m in the right place. I’m on the right track. I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. And everything that has happened up until this point is okay. I can live with it. I have lived with it. And I will continue to. I know too well that there are people who live with these struggles for their entire lives, and I’ve been told a million times that I will be one of them. That used to feel like a death sentence, but my eyes are starting to open a little wider.

Where once I couldn’t see beyond the next few hours without my vision fading to black, I now have plans. I want to finish my degree. I want to study after that – I want to work with children and young people in a capacity that empowers them to learn to help themselves. I want to fall in love and have a family, own a home and have my own garden. I want to grow my hair longer and get more tattoos. One day, I want to have a book published.

In six weeks I will be leaving the country to spend twelve weeks travelling around the world. I’m incredibly excited (and terrified); this is a huge step for me. It’s a step into the person I’m becoming – the person I want to be. I think, for the first time in my life, I kind of like her.

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Something I’m not sure of yet

I always get a sense of loneliness and longing when flicking through old high-school friends’ travel photos on Facebook. It makes me sad that the last four years since graduation (and so many before that) have been filled with so many opportunities and so much possibility, yet I’ve been stuck here, inside my head, trapped with my own thoughts and memories, while the people who spent years right beside me are chasing their dreams all over the world.

I’m not new to keeping a journal, but a blog is a different feeling. I’m not yet sure whether I will stick with it, and I’m not sure what I want to write about, or how much of what is inside will be able to reach the surface here. I doubt that what I have to say is particularly unique, but for my own sanity, there are things that need to be shared.

For now I suppose I will leave a vague explanation of myself: I’m 21, a psychology student, quiet, an observer, a chronic insomniac. I am somewhat sensitive (though this is well hidden) & I value the people I have around me immensely. I’m trying to find my place in the world, much like any other young adult. I have a list of diagnoses as long as my arm, which I’m learning to not let define me, and my case notes annotate “multiple traumas”, which I’m currently learning to speak about aloud – but I’m not there yet. I have a kitten who I spend more time with than any other living creature.

I’m learning, growing, building. Constantly.

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