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Earthquake Thoughts from 2011

Excitement, perhaps I can be valuable.

Irritation at the person panicking. How do I calm them down?

How? Should I calm them down?

How serious is it really? The street has been painted red with shattered bricks. The people… There must be people who have died in this one. Aftershock. I seem to have cut my face on the computer case. It’s like the time I was in the car crash and couldn’t figure out how I cut my knee when there was nothing sharp in front of it and I wasn’t going so fast. There is confusion as to whether or not we should evacuate.

Finally the order has been given to leave. It’s easy to get up and leave. The feeling is the same as riding the roller coasters. I’m still excited, my heart is beating hard against my chest. I want to tell the hysterical woman to get a grip but I understand she is anxious and say nothing. We exit and the stree is flooding. Liquefaction, sewerage maybe. Pigeons flying, their homes against the sides of the buildings lost. Nowhere to go. It’s quiet but for muttering and whimpering. I left my things upstairs, I don’t suppose I’ll get them back? Do I go left or right? Home to family or home to love? I’m told not to take the car. It will be chaos. I leave it, forget my friends, go for love via the safest route away away from buildings still standing and down the street to where people are milling in confusion like mindless livestock unsure which way to go.

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Shout Out

To the ones who fill my heart the most:

Stuart – For loving me the way you do. I don’t know where I’d be without you in my life but I’m sure it would not be in a place as bright as this.

Jerry – For putting up with me in the strange hours when the rest of the world can’t help me.

Tim – For being sweet, for listening and sharing with me.

Chris – For so many reasons but most of all because you are you.

It’s seems strange that I don’t have more people to add to this list currently. Yes, I have other friends, and I have many acquaintances, but my deep connections right now are few. There aren’t many people I can fully open up to, but I feel like I can tell you four anything at all that’s on my heart. Sorry that there aren’t more of you to share that burden!

Anxiety

Just because I manage to go out and get places and do things and fulfill my responsibilities these days in a way that makes it seem like I have my life sorted, I still have anxiety.

Today we went to an art show and it was nice but I was completely visually overwhelmed to the point that I couldn’t even look at some of the artworks without feeling sick.

We then went to the mall where we bought some lovely food, but because of timing we ended up sitting in a corner of the coffee shop where I felt that the people at the next table were too close to me and I felt paranoid that they were staring at me and listening to me, so I stopped talking or looking at Stuart because I didn’t want to feel like these strangers were in on the conversation.

As soon as I got home I started to prepare for the next day because if I don’t anticipate and make lists and have a plan it all feels like too much.

When variables creep in – new ideas, trying to fit things in a small car, trying to accommodate or say no to people wanting rides – it’s nobody’s fault but after I’ve already had a difficult day I just shut down. If anything or anyone tries to get my attention when I’m shut down, I panic and cry and just turn into a mess. I swear that my brain doesn’t work during this time, not even a little bit. It’s rocking back and forth territory, I just feel like my entire world is out of control and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Now, I’m still doing better than I ever did before because these days I can usually recover within an hour of reaching breaking point and at least keep going, when not so long ago it would just send me into a deep depression and I would ignore the world for whole weeks at a time. (And people would give me advice like, “don’t isolate yourself, it’s better for you if you see people,” but any effort would be so tiring and overwhelming it was actually worse for me to think about.)

Please remember that I am a person who does struggle, and if I’m spending time with you it’s because my time and energy is actually valuable and I want to spend it on the people I love the most.

Bad Week

Things were going so well, and then on Sunday I woke up paranoid and anxious. It’s now Thursday and I have still done nothing with my life except the really important jobs like driving kids (not mine) to school or driving sick kids (not mine) home. So, this is officially now a Bad Week.

I figure this must be when my background cycle, behind the lithium that allows me to at least continue a semblance of normality at the extremes of the day, would be at the mixed or perhaps depressed state. I would have thought that being forced to get up each day and do at least one job would give me the momentum to continue on and do other things and just, you know, do what normal people do and push through it. It hasn’t worked, I just get completely tired, completely unmotivated, and any attempt to push through results in my brain ceasing to function properly. I come up with all sorts of ways to avoid responsibility, from finding distraction that’s strong enough to cover up the guilt for a while, or falling back into bed and sleeping the rest of the day away. I have still taken business calls and orders, still done the banking, paid bills, a couple of those kinds of things, but really important stuff? I feel like I’ve been using all my energy on other people first and I’m back to having nothing left for myself and my family.

How did I end up back in this position? I was being so careful to pace myself and not accept things unless they were something I really wanted in my life. Instead, it started with doing a favour for one person, then a favour for another person, then committing to a few other little things. Now every little thing is too overwhelming and if It’s not something I have to do already then I can’t even think about it.

Last week I was doing great. I was taking people to work, kids to school, visiting the studio every day, doing odd jobs for people, planning exciting new ventures, getting new customers in my business and filling exciting orders, organising things with my accountants, housesitting, looking after my pets, and looking after my husband all without blinking. Now I’m… I don’t know… flailing about and feeling horrible about myself. I guess this is just that normal phase I’m used to but all a lot more toned down than usual. It’s just annoying that this still happens.  At least it will pass.

Foo Fighters in Christchurch

Yesterday I went to the Christchurch Foo Fighters concert.

This concert made the local news for having 6000 people still stuck outside trying to get in when the show started.  I was not one of those people.

I went early so that I could be there in time to see Rise Against, another of my favourite bands, play the opening act.

I had huge anxiety before the concert, to the point of tears. Less than 4 hours before the gates were supposed to open I realised I hadn’t even organised how I was going to get to the venue. Luckily my supportive husband checked if my dad next door would take me and he said he was happy to.

So I made it through the cattle-yard entrance before it was crowded and picked out a nice spot on the grass, then decided to move to the front in the mosh pit to really experience Rise Against. I picked a spot beside two other Asian women who were just as short as I was, and we were standing right behind a group of really tall teenaged boys.  One of them jumped so hard during the act that a dollar in change fell out of his pocket, but I was too afraid to pick it up, and everyone else just walked over it too.

After Rise Against I went back around to the entrance and found a free water station where there were large tumblers and filtered water on offer. With my water, I went back to the grass and sat in the sun until the opening chord announced the Foo Fighters were on stage!  I picked a spot where I couldn’t really see the stage but I wasn’t confident enough to push my way back into the mosh pit, and instead I stood at the fence surrounding the cameras in the centre of the field, on top of a wire covering which made me a few centimetres taller, and contented myself with being able to clearly see, with nobody else in front of me, the giant screens on either side of the main stage.

What I didn’t realise until later in the show, is that I was actually standing at the end of the right side of the extended stage, and the security guards were not just guarding cameras but rather a part of the stage where Dave Grohl came out to, a mere once in the entire almost 3-hour show.  However, he did come to the centre of the stage end a couple of times and I got a good view of him singing Skin and Bones, and Wheels, and where he promised that the next time he came to Christchurch he’d throw a free concert somewhere open in the city like a park or a beach. Even better, I got free refills of water in my tumbler by guys who were walking around with weed sprayers full of water on their backs.

I don’t even know if I made sense in that last paragraph, I don’t think I could really describe the whole experience. It was the first big concert I have ever been to in my life and I’m over 30 now, so it was really something for me to spend $185 on a ticket, but to be able to be right up the front and close just the once made it really worth it. The amazing thing about the Foo Fighters is just how perfect they sound all the way through their concert, almost like watching the DVD except for being able to see them when they stop and just have a jam in the middle of a song and prove they are phenomenal. Skin and Bones was even accompanied by accordian!

I was able to shuffle out with the crowd and get to my pick-up point just in time as I arrived when my ride was being told to move away from the service station car park, and then I was safely transported home thanks to my husband’s best friend, Dave. My only injury other than sore calves was when my ankle became the landing site for some drunk punk’s heel when he fell into me, and he was twice my size. The rest of the time the crowd was wonderful, and fairly tame compared to my imaginings of how bad it might be. Vbase who were running the event escorted a few intoxicated people out of the stadium in front of me during the night so it seems they were keeping an eye on things. Unfortunately, the smell of weed being smoked is always to be expected and was an unpleasant extra for me.

So that was my time at the Foo Fighters concert. I’m mostly writing it down for my own memory because I think I’ll forget I even went if I don’t at least write that. I also had video and photos but I’m just too tired right now to save them and upload them. Maybe next time!

I Have Ducks

IMAG0857_1I have ducks!  I bought two Indian Runner Ducks for my backyard, one white and one fawn, I wanted to be able to tell them apart easily. I have not named them and am not yet sure I will. Giving them names wouldn’t be useful anyway since they don’t particularly come when called. They are both girls but are still too young to lay just yet but probably will once they’ve finished moulting, I have duck feathers flying all over the yard at the moment!

They have been with us now for only 3-4 days but I have learned a lot about ducks in that time. There is no such thing as ducks and clean water, they will muddy any fresh water in two seconds flat deliberately by picking up dirt and then swishing it in the water. They don’t really quack a whole lot, I’m more likely to hear them lightly honk (kind of like geese) and even whistle when they’ve found a new source of yummy food. They are eating barley, wheat, rye, chicken pellets, slugs, flies, kale, lettuce, weeds, grass, earwigs, brown rice, stones, mosquito larvae, and plenty of leaf litter from through holes in the fence that I’d rather they didn’t eat! The other side of the fence belongs to a motel and they have a huge flax bush in that corner, so a lot of leaf litter has piled up behind it over the years and they’re picking at it.

These ducks are highly strung, apparently it’s part of the breed for Indian Runner Ducks, but they have already become used to me coming up to them and going about changing their food and water. They won’t let me come closer than about a metre though before they get up and walk away making lots of noise. I haven’t actually touched any of my ducks yet! At some point I may decide to forcibly pick them up regularly just to keep them used to it and do health checks but I do hear they can scratch and cut when cornered. They have sharp claws at the ends of their webbed toes, and their wings aren’t exactly the softest thing either.

I am very excited about them and also very obsessed.  On the first day I kept them confined to the little house my husband helped me make. On the second day we let them leave the kennel and go into a small pen we fenced off for them.  The third day I extended the fencing so they could get to the kiddie pool to swim.  Today I opened up the fencing to allow them to forage in my back yard, but they’d rather just stay between the pool and their house! I tried to chase them out and they just made a big circle back to the pool and then to the house again. This is good, if they’ve decided here is home. We live right next to a river so we don’t want them getting any ideas.

They’re gorgeous to look at have turned out to be good garden ornaments as well as interesting pets. I like that they don’t need a huge amount of affection or attention from me but will tolerate me watching them for hours. I’m finding they suit me quite well overall and in fact I would probably right now choose more ducks over getting any more domestic animals like cats, rats, or dogs. We’ll see how I feel during winter time!

Diagnosis

Why, hello there!  It’s been 8-9 months since I last posted in this journal and a lot of not much has happened.  It might be obvious from my last posts that I was not in a… normal state of mind at the start of the year, going on and on about God and my religious opinions, followed by a very depressed post and then silence.

On the 29th of October I saw a mental health doctor after being referred by my general practitioner and received an official diagnosis:

Bipolar Disorder, type I, most recent episode depressed

In retrospect it all seems so very obvious.  I can point to very distinctive manic episodes followed by depressed periods averaging about 3 months.  It also helps to explain the dismal failure of every anti-depressant I was ever prescribed.  I am now on the lowest dose of bipolar medication and we’ll see how things go from here.

I read on the information pages about Bipolar Disorder that it’s actually common for it to be misdiagnosed as ADHD because the symptoms are similar.  Having the right diagnosis can make such a huge difference to how I tackle solutions, and already Bipolar Disorder seems to fit me better.

Now that Bipolar Disorder has become relevant to me, I am noticing how many other people I know also have it.  It’s been good to hear from them about their experiences and coping strategies.  Please feel free to share yours.