Happy New Year!

I think it would be fairly safe to say that 2012 was a big year for me.

I had a mental breakdown, turned 30, decided to commit suicide but in typical Bri style, immediately changed my mind, and right this very minute, almost started a war with my new neighbours because they threw rubbish over our back fence.

What hasn’t changed, is that despite the fact that they threw rubbish over our fence, I still feel that I should just keep my mouth closed because I would be the rude one if I said anything…

Back on topic, however, 2012 was a year of re-establishing old friendships, cutting ties with others and saving my time for the people who have time for me. There are a lot more than I ever knew.

Sadly, it hasn’t all been roses and sunshine. Shortly after I turned 30, I experienced my very first bout of “ate-too-much” indigestion and could have been a legitimate Movember contender. I also began using the phrase “there just aren’t enough hours in the day”.

I spent much of the year alone, my partner working out of town. I discovered that without him here, I tend to go fairly crazy, and often caught myself walking from room to room, singing to myself/the cats and doing strange knee-dances. I literally spent hours making faces at myself in the mirror.

Thankfully, his stint of out-of-town working has now come to an end. We’re broke, but who cares! It just means more nights in playing ps3 together. OK, him playing and me telling him what to do.

Most of all, 2012 was the year that I sought professional help for my depression. I am now almost 4 months into my medication and therapy, where we have discovered that I have been mildly depressed for approximately 9 years, with major depressive episodes occurring once or twice a year. This year’s breakdown was by far the worst, and I still cannot express the terror that I felt at the loss of control I had over my own mind.

Medication has been the best decision I’ve ever made and I am now as normal as I will ever get. It feels really good to no longer feel severe anxiety on a daily basis. It’s been a shock to realise how crippling that had been for me. On the flipside, it now feels amazing to know that I won’t deny myself possibilities out of fear anymore.

There are too many people for me to thank for helping me reach this point, but my parents, siblings, partner, friends and colleagues are at the top of that list. Their incredible patience and support are what allowed me the time and space to heal and without that, I honestly could not say that I would be here now, writing this.

My alcohol counsellor and mental health nurse discharged me from their care just before Christmas, stating that they were incredibly impressed with my determination to make the changes I needed to in order to get well. I think that it really just comes down to reaching that proverbial “rock bottom”. You can’t really get any lower than deciding to end your own life. There’s only two options to you at that point – end it all, or try something else instead. Since I couldn’t really go back from the first option, I decided to give the latter a go first.

Perhaps that was the best decision I made in 2012. Medication just makes it easier to stick to.

Either way, 2012 was exhausting, exhilarating and emotional.

Let’s hope 2013 teaches me just as many lessons, hopefully with a little less drama though, yeah?

Happy New Year, Friends!

Just one more opinion

In a year where I fully grasped the potential consequences of my depression, another massacre has occurred, tragically ending the lives of so many innocent people.

When Martin Bryant killed 35 people at Port Arthur in 1996, Australia’s gun laws were drastically changed. A buy-back scheme was run by the government, where people turned in their now-illegal guns in exchange for cash.

Australia has always been “The Lucky Country”, and that extends to its ability to form these strict gun laws. Australia could do that, because “the right to bear arms” is not part of our Constitution.

I have forever been known as the person who always sees the worst case scenario first. My mother says that it’s because we are “process thinkers”. We see each possible outcome for almost every scenario we face, and so we prepare for all possibilities – particularly the worst case.

That is why I believe that changing the Constitution in order to control guns in the US is a very bad idea.

Citizens of “free countries” have already given up more freedoms than we even know, through back-door law changes kept quiet by media, and those disguised to protect us from Terrorists. There’s a very fine line between being protected by your government, and being controlled and monitored by your government.

That line is now almost non-existent.

Changing the Constitution now would open the floodgates for future changes – for the protection of its citizens, of course – that could and most definitely would strip even more freedoms from a country that is well and truly becoming a Police State.

When that second amendment was penned, the authors could not have even envisaged automatic or semi-automatic weapons, and using them to kill innocents was not at all what they would have had in mind. The right to bear arms was written into the Constitution so that American citizens could protect themselves from their government.

The main problem is, the government is doing its damndest to keep its citizens stupid, mentally and physically ill, and too busy struggling to keep their heads above water to even have the energy to give a crap what the government is doing not just abroad but in its own backyard.

While it is true that if the shooter had been armed with a knife, we may not have seen the fatalities that we saw yesterday. But if the shooter had affordable and reliable access to the mental healthcare he so desperately needed, he may have stayed home yesterday doing laundry.

Not being a US citizen, I don’t know exactly how difficult it is to obtain reliable and financially accessible mental healthcare. I do know that in this town I live in, I came very, very close to ending my own life, or, through drunken violent psychosis episodes, perhaps that of another – and all because I couldn’t get in to see someone for 3 weeks.

I felt so alone because even I couldn’t understand myself. Nobody understood what was happening to me, and it was all happening so very hard, so very quickly. The fact that I knew I couldn’t see someone for 3 weeks felt like there was a bottomless pit beneath me. That I was about to step over the edge and that that was the only option left to me.

Mental illness lies. It changes your brain chemistry, it takes away your ability to reason, to even recognise what is normal and what is not. All you can do is feel, and act on those feelings.

Even with gun control in the US, these tragedies will not stop. Of course, the number of fatalities would be reduced if people didn’t have access to semi-automatic or automatic weapons – that goes without saying. But until mental illness is taken as seriously as it should be, these types of incidents WILL continue, and whether one child dies or 30 doesn’t matter. It will always be a tragedy.

There are no words to express the horror of that man’s actions yesterday. No words to express the agony those families, and that town is suffering. I am sure that they would give up all their freedoms just to have their children back. And that is why I have no answers, because I know that if it were one of my loved ones stolen yesterday, I would sell my soul, not just my freedoms, to have them back in my life.

 

Nup, that’s it. I give up. Brain, you are fired!

It’s 5:28pm, Last Day of Work Eve and I’m home, sucking back on the world’s most satisfying cigarette.

I fled from the office at 5pm and walked home while my brain played head-movies of me picking up the Happy Hour sign I was about to walk past and throwing it through the window of the bar.

My brain has decided it no longer wants to work with me, but against me. This last week I have been unable to concentrate for more than a few minutes on any given task. The only thing my brain can concentrate on is the fact that I finish work tomorrow and have a metric fucktonne of work to do.

I am absolutely riddled with this overwhelmingly tense, excess energy, possibly thanks to the 900ml of redbull I consume daily, along with the 3 coffees I’ve been having. It seems that this little britard either has to give up caffeine or take up exercise.

I think we all know the option that I will take.

The only option I didn’t mention: the one where I don’t actually change anything, and just get angry a lot.

Keep me in your thoughts, guys. Tomorrow is going to be a nightmare!

Shame on you, NAB – Sponsor of 2012 Year of the Farmer, whilst breaching the Banking Code of Conduct and evicting a farming family from the property their family has held for over 100 years.

thoughtsonthebus

It all started with a request for my email address from a good friend who lives out in Dubbo. Said he had information for me about a local family that was being screwed by the NAB. A few hours later, 5 emails came through, and one by one described the awful situation that a brother and sister were facing.

Claire and her brother Chris are 3rd generation farmers, on a property that has been in their families hands for over 100 years. Their property is a mix of cattle, wheat and cotton farming, surrounded by pristine nature, and bordered by the Macquarie and Barwon rivers, in the North West of NSW. This is their home. Now all of this is about to taken away from them. Surviving 9 years of drought, this is a family who couldn’t be destroyed by Mother Nature’s worst but now they find themselves about to be…

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Mother

 

The first time I felt like an adult was the day I got my key to my first sharehouse.

I grew up in a small town where doors weren’t locked or someone was always home, so kids never really needed a key to their own house. When I moved to Sydney and out of my parents’ house, I still didn’t feel like an adult. I felt very small and quiet and unsure – until I was given my own key.

When I slipped it onto my key ring, it was more than just a symbol of acceptance into a new family. It was more than just a symbol of my own independence, in that I could come and go as I pleased. In that moment, I realised I was now fully responsible for my life. I was an adult.

Of course, that filled me with a sense of horror and seemed to leave me standing on a large cliff with no safety rails or smiling assurances from the two people who had kept me safe for the past 18 years. The umbilical cord was severed and I had not, in any way, been prepared for it.

The way I left home wasn’t the way most of my peers did it. They went through their last year of high school mostly aware that when that year finished, they were heading off to university, or a job. I had no idea.

After six months of fruitless job-searching in that too-small, small town, I applied for a job in Sydney and was granted an interview. My parents drove me down, I went to the interview, and awhile later, was asked to come down for a job trial.

It was more like a holiday with all my friends coming together. I aced the job trial and was asked to start on Monday.

With no preparation – emotional, mental or physical – my parents packed my things into cardboard boxes and posted my life to me. A week or so later, they came down with the rest of my things, and we said goodbye to each other in a foreign driveway, in a numb sort of haze.

I was excited about my new life. It wasn’t until a couple of years later, when I envied my friends the ability to call into their parents’ house for coffee on a Tuesday, that I fully appreciated what I had lost in my abrupt and unexpected flight from the nest.

It had broken my mother’s heart. I had robbed her of the chance to guide me into the world, safely. I robbed us of the chance to say important words, words that mothers and daughters share when they know they have to let each other go.

Moving back to my home town has given me many wonderful gifts. I have beautiful friends that make my life that much richer. I have a wonderful job with fantastic people, who feel like family. Most of all, though, it’s given me my mother, and the chance to be a real, proper daughter; present in her life for the first time in almost a decade.

Getting to know my mother from the perspective of an adult has been a privelege. I already knew, as a child, that she was the kindest and most supportive person in my world. As an adult, she’s all that and more and if I could be half the wife, daughter, sister, aunt, mother and colleague that she is, then I would consider myself the world’s greatest success.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how much time I spend with her, I don’t pick up any of her OCD neat-freak tendencies.

… and I still don’t feel like much of an adult.