Here, Have An Aura With That My Friend

I know…it’s rude to look a gift horse in the mouth. But c’mon universe, I’m feeling smothered and need some space from your ambiguous generosity. An aura here or there, but not like this.

I don’t know what’s going on but I’ve been having regular aura’s again this past couple of months. It’s annoying and I’m wanting to minimise them, but I’m actually incredibly lucky with my epilepsy. Others suffer incredibly and I realise auras are miniscule. My love goes out to one brave young sufferer in particular.

I was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2008 after doctors witnessed me having a grand mal seizure in hospital. Since then I’ve been medicated and haven’t had a seizure in five years. So I’m doing okay! However each aura is letting me know my brain’s still misfiring at times. I just find them annoying because they make me so tired afterwards and leave my brain hazy. And from what I can gather the only cure for an aura is avoiding the trigger.

I’ve started keeping a record of them and what I’m doing at the time. After a few weeks I’m hoping to see a pattern or be able to identify the triggers. At the moment it’s quite confusing because my doctor tells me these auras sound like side effects of a migraine. Although I do get bad headaches that last for days, they’re definitely not migraines, instead tension headaches. A massage at my favourite Chinese massage place where the only one who speaks English is the receptionist, and I’m healed. These women are tiny but can cause agony! I can’t handle them at full strength! I walk out feeling like a feather though. I’m recharged and the headache’s gone, along with the auras. For a little while.

auraOther times they come on, seemingly without cause. I have them when I’m hosing the garden, reading, at the gym, in the shower, shopping, when I first wake up, talking to people, at tai chi. They don’t discriminate on the basis of location or company. It’s a conundrum I want to ‘uncondrum’ – bahaa! (FYI – uncondrum: to unconundruminate a conundrum)  *sigh*  It’s late…

I remember years ago the auras used to really frighten me.  This was a few years before I was diagnosed. I’d ring Mum and have her stay on the line with me until it passed. I couldn’t ever really explain exactly what it was I was experiencing. I still can’t explain it well, but I know what the process is so I don’t panic anymore. They can be like a wave of physical detachment that passes momentarily. But they can also run their course, how long that takes I’ve never timed.

That feeling of detachment lingers, things sound and smell different. I feel myself shutting down, and prefer to sit still with my eyes closed, in a quiet place. If I’m in conversation I can keep looking aware (I think!) but cannot understand the conversation, let alone contribute. My lips feel numb, my hands and fingers feel and look like they are huge, like they’ve been blown up with air! Sometimes I feel nauseous, and every time I become extremely hot and sweaty. Afterwards my whole body feels tired and I’m exhausted.

I’ve been wondering if it’s something environmental, as I didn’t have a single aura whilst we were away. Last weekend we caught up with the family. I had one in the morning, was fine during the day, then had another after we got home. It’s a mystery, and one that will likely only be answered with speculation.

Whatever the cause, I think it’s time for a break universe. It’s not me, it’s you.

Brain restarting….please wait….




time out

Time Out With Purpose, Peace and Pets

time outWe don’t have money for expensive holidays, but I was thinking today how lucky we are to have family and friends who live in beautiful places that we can stay with for time out. I love driving so am not phased by distance. I grew up with long road trips and I find it an enjoyable part of the whole venture. I’m really grateful for the opportunities we have and to those who welcome us.

We arrived home a few days ago from a week house sitting my uncle and aunt’s place near Mudgee. I’d jumped at the opportunity, and made the most of this much needed break.

Time out means different things to us all. And it means various things to me depending on how well this ol’ engine’s running. She keeps getting bogged in the mud lately – not at all where she wants to be. But as my therapist tells me – the beautiful lotus flower grows out of mud – and we humans are the theoretical lotus, striving to grow and prosper throughout the many facets of life (the mud). At this time, I really needed to get away to somewhere I could focus on anything other than current situations.

I’d completely lost my cool on a couple of occasions – a clear sign I was losing my perspective and stability. I had been incredibly affected by the nasty comments of someone who can’t help themselves, and coupled with a really confronting situation where I was volunteering, I was struggling to keep my thoughts in a good place.

The universe can be pretty amazing in it’s timing. Luckily for me, my uncle and aunt’s usual house sitter had cancelled and the ‘job’ was offered to moi. With Jessie being schooled via distance ed, we’re able to travel out of time outschool holidays which is one huge plus. And our neighbour likes our cats and is happy to look after them whenever we’re away, which is lucky. Everything fell into place – as it always does, one way or another.

So we left our two moggies in good hands, to look after two other beautiful moggie sisters, two lovely natured boxers, three friendly chickens, and three Indian Runner ducks – all of which have left an impression on us. Jessie, being a cat girl, immediately formed a bond with Billie, the extrovert of the two sisters. Ella was quite shy for the first few days, only coming in for dinner. After a few nights of pats at dinner time, she figured we were okay and started hanging out with us. The warmth of the fire had to be a drawcard too! Our two sleep on my bed at home, so Jessie loved being Billie’s human to snuggle.

time outI had the company of the boxers on the bed in the mornings, so I wasn’t left feeling lonely. I didn’t mind being Ginger’s pillow, while Chili slept at the end of the bed keeping my feet warm. Chili is 9 and a beautiful boy. Ginger is 18 months old if I remember correctly, and full of playful energy and youthful curiosity! I was told she liked to chase the ducks, which would’ve been hilarious to watch.  They were amusing enough to watch waddling around with their long necks, honking away to each other. However we did get a good routine worked out. Everyone had run of the yard for some part of the day, without anyone being harrassed by anyone else!

I learnt quickly to allow the ducks time to get to time outtheir bush before letting the chickens out. There’s obviously been some unfriendly banter between them while safely separated in their coups – I’ve never seen chickens attack before! The mild mannered, innocent hens snapped, becoming psycho thugs and the kerfuffle would’ve been a viral hit! My uncle did say he likes duck eggs, so that may just have pushed them over the edge. That was an interesting fight to break up – something I reckon should be added to my resume.

Jessie was initially intimidated by the dogs, but she didn’t stay that way for long. We took them for a long walk on our first day, and she got to see how obedient and well behaved they were, even in their excitement. Ginger was on the lead as she likes to chase things and go awol for a short while, and insisting she hold her own lead had us in stitches. She thought that game was so much fun. Chili’s simply a gentleman. From then on Jessie had no time outhesitation in taking them for walks, and did so on her own numerous times.

We enjoyed our afternoon walks, mainly because we delighted in seeing the kangaroos and wallabies, many with joeys in their pouches. They’d stand and stare at us before taking off, one big fella in particular, thumping loudly as he bound along the fenceline at high speed. The power in those hind legs is incredible and we stood quietly until we couldn’t hear him any longer.

Our time out was relaxed and peaceful. Being a prosperous wine region, we visited Huntington Estate Winery where I bought some wine before having the best wood-fired pizza ever at di Lusso Estate Winery. Definitely going back there. We also enjoyed the pop-up cafe at Burrundulla Winery and Vineyeard – awesome play area for little kids. The rest of the time we chilled out with the animals at home.

Nothing was rushed, there was no pressure or stress. There were no sirens, no traffic, no 3am deliveries to the school. And no skateboard guy! He flies down the hill anytime between 12 and 2am. There was no construction noise, no reversing trucks with their alarms. No drunks, no car accidents, no noisy neighbours. Just peace and quiet, and space not consumed by humans but by nature.


I’m looking forward to going back next week, I have another couple of days time out. I’m just hoping it’s still cold enough at night for the fire! I could very easily live where I need to light the fire during winter. I found it strangely satifying lighting and maintaining a fire to keep us warm. Watching the flames flickering and dancing over the timber was my meditation before bed – calming for the mind and body…


“Hello holidays. I’m so happy to see you.”



My Final Farewell

farewellThis will be my final farewell to you. In your voicemail you told me you wanted to reconnect again, but told me call back or not, either was okay. Jessie doesn’t want any contact, and I chose not to respond after the way you behaved last time. I then see a comment and a sad face on my facebook page. I blocked that account, so you use another account to leave yet another comment and another sad face – clearly for yourself. By disrespecting my silence once then leaving, what were they, desperate or demanding? messages with all those exclamation marks and question marks, shows this is all about you. In three messages you didn’t mention Jessie once! But you think I should give you the time of day??

I will reiterate what you were told in 2015. If Jessie does ever want to try getting to know you again, she will contact you. She won’t need me like she did last time, so there is no reason for us ever to be in contact again. I’m asking that you stay out of my life and my business. I want to be very clear here as to why I will not accept you in my life anymore. You don’t have to agree with it, because it’s not about you. It’s about me and written from my perspective and requires no response. Many of the facts however, are recorded and indisputable.

farewellTo start: If you’d read the blog you commented on, I stated one of the things really adding to my frustrations was the fact that you owed over $27,000 in child support. I can’t believe you actually had the nerve to contact me. It’s Jessie who’s missed out by you not paying, and ensuring your weekly amount due is as little as possible, but you don’t care. After you completely killed any chance of a relationship with Jessie you then resigned from your job. The only decent paying job you couldn’t hide from the ATO and CSA, so were forced to pay. 5 months out of 15 years. Pathetic. Child Support tells me you’re not even paying the paltry amount you are meant to pay each fortnight now – they’ve been collecting that from a third party.

I was so afraid of Jessie meeting you because I didn’t want her being hurt. She had enough going on. But I knew I had to let Jessie make a choice at her age, as you are her biological father. You took a week off, only booked accomodation for one night for some reason, so I opened my home to you for a night. You then decided you wanted to go home, so did. I lied to Jessie so she wouldn’t be hurt, told her you had to go back for work.

I took you to see her psychologist so you could hear from her Jessie’s likely reactions, and the best way for you to handle it. Jessie reacted as predicted. You didn’t even last a week before deciding it was all my fault and started with your charming abuse again. It just went on and on and on. Hateful, derogatory insults and blaming me for your life.

You hurt me, disrespected me and blamed me for your choices in your own life that I’ve had nothing to do with in 15 years. You’re a grown man for god’s sake. Take responsibility for yourself and the decisions you’ve made. How dare you blame me, and then Jessie because she doesn’t treat you like a dad who’s been around all her life.

farewellShe’s a smart cookie, and picks up on things. She asked to do something on my phone, but I caught her reading all your messages. How do you think that made her feel, seeing the things you said to me? And you put me down to her, what? try to turn her against me? I’m the one who has raised her, loved her, supported her, taken care of her, and been there for her every single day of her life. But you want to hurt her like that. You don’t even consider her, your priority is to abuse me as usual. She told you not to talk to me like that or she didn’t want to see you again. You told her goodbye, then became nasty with her.

You just cannot put her first. You’d rather sacrifice trying to build a relationship with her than sort your attitude out. You blew a perfect opportunity. She is so worthy of being made a priority, and you have never been able to put her first. Never.

We go away for a few days break, and I’ve Jessie’s psychologist calling me, letting me know you’d rung. Later that afternoon I have the police call me. Despite being given an update that day, you chose to call the police, saying you couldn’t get hold of me, didn’t know how Jessie was and you were worried about her safety with me because I’m such a bad mother.

As you knew, Jessie hates talking on the phone. They wouldn’t take my word that she was okay. I had to end up telling her that they need to speak her so they know she’s alive, they can’t just take my word for it, before she finally spoke to the officer. You rang them, knowing you were lying, and had her talk to the police, who you knew she’d had traumatic experiences with. But you were so wrapped up in yourself you didn’t care about that. What sort of person does that? What sort of father does that? It’s not okay. But you think I should give you the time of day??!

farewellWe had broken up way before Jessie was born. I regret so much asking you more than once to come down before she was due. I blame it on hormones and a false hope that you’d changed. It was insane of me. You spat on me and poured a bottle of cordial over me when I was pregnant. You used to put your arms around me and squeeze as hard as you could to squeeze the breath out of me. You’ve called me every low life name there is. You burned my first beautiful pregnancy journal. A journal I’d had for years, saving it for something special. Which my pregnancy was, and you couldn’t handle it. Jealous of your own unborn child who I loved more than anything.

Then when I asked you to leave you stole my Kaz Cooke pregnancy book that I’d written all the way through during my pregnancy. I used it as my diary and it was hidden away until you moved out of Stockton. I was going to give it to Jessie one day, but you stole it. To steal something purely because you know it’s so special to someone, is a trait of someone very unhinged. What makes it worse is knowing that if I hadn’t asked you to come down, you would’nt have. There would’ve been no contact anyway! You weren’t interested at all. And your actions over the last 15 years prove it.

The night Jessie was born you left me to walk her myself, an hour after giving birth, to the Maternity Ward, because you wanted to go home and play PlayStation. But as you told me, you were bored after I had the epidural. I should have kicked you out of my existence then and there. You had me stressed out during the happiest moments of my life because of your temper outbursts. So much so I came home less than 24 hours after giving birth, having to install the baby capsule in the back seat of my 2 door Cordia at the hospital first. Fucking ridiculous!! She was 3 days old the first time I needed to call the police.

Even when she was a little baby you still chose to call me a slut and to accuse me of sleeping with other men. On two occasions you squeezed me while I had Jessie in my arms. You squeezed until she was screaming her poor head off. One one occasion you punched me in the face while I was holding her. The police took out an AVO against you after you left two very graphic, gruesome voice messages telling me how you were going to kill me. And telling me about the 10-15 ‘uvver’ women you’d ‘fucked’, mistakenly thinking I’d give a shit after I’d calmly told you I didn’t love you. My focus was my newborn baby – you just never got it! But you think I should give you the time of day??

And I’ll never forget the afternoon you refused to get Jessie out of the car in 30+ degree heat. You had her locked in the hot car and she was bright red, screaming and dripping wet. We had to call police. I wanted her out but you just wanted to abuse me and call me names. Never again did I trust you with her, even to drop her home, and visit changeovers were moved to Ashfield Police Station, and you stopped coming to get her altogether. 10 out of 40 recorded visits you attended. Not a single one without incident.

As you said when you were here, no-one in your family was going to have contact with Jessie if you weren’t. I despise you for all you have robbed her of, and for hurting her the way you have. And I despise you for treating me the way you have, and for believing you have the right to do so. Again, I’m upholding my right to not accept your treatment.


I will NEVER again give you the time of day.


Please remember this is my final farewell.


I won’t ever get caught up in your cycle of abuse again.



An Exasperatingly Extreme Exhausting Existence

teenagersI’m exhausted.  The cause – me and my extreme existence.  I should stop there because that sounds as if my life is full of adventure and excitement!  It has moments of both, but it feels more extreme in it’s stresses.  I’m hoping by writing what’s in my head, I’ll become untangled from it.

There is so much going on that I feel trapped with.  The feeling throughout my body is ‘I hate my life’.  I hate my life.  But that’s a secret.  One I wish had been kept from me too.  But no, everything’s got to be laid out on the table and psycho-fucking-analysed.  Not much is allowed slip by.  No-one is perfect but how many live under such extreme self scrutiny?  Surely it’s not meant to be so intense?


It’s the very basic things that I’m fed up with.  Combined with all the little things playing ‘pile on’, I get to feeling like I might explode into a billion pieces.  And I see little peace from life in the near future.

I love Jessie, my family, and all the people in my life, and I enjoy my volunteering and study.  These things give me temporary relief, but as I said, it’s the basic things I’m hating.  Like where I live and the attitude from our community housing provider I have to live with.  I have to suck it up that we live in a place that is not maintained, or cleaned properly.  I reported the extreme stench of our bins, and the fact that the garbage rooms are never cleaned.  The place is only mopped about once a month, leaving the floors smelling worse than the bins.  But I’m told it’s all of an ‘acceptable’ standard.  I wish I could get paid enough to buy a brand new BMW by doing an ‘acceptable’ job.  Or work in the office of Link Housing – they don’t even reach that standard!!

I can never get hold of our housing manager, and she has returned my calls on extremeone occasion only.  Emails I’ve been sending in about a car parked in our driveway adding to the safety hazard – ignored for the last two months.  The last time I was on holidays up north, I’d rung after a leak in the roof had damaged my wall making the paint bubble and peel and the carpet discolour. My request to have it repaired had gone ignored and I was chasing it up.  How dare I!  I was asked by the staff member in a holier than thou tone, “Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have electricity? Do you have water?”!  I made a formal complaint about her.  Didn’t ever hear back.

We have dead gardens and the grassy areas are nothing but weeds.  I told them the gardeners rarely come, and all they do is mow when they do come.  But I’m told we have the same gardeners as another block where the gardens are beautiful, and that they come every two weeks to tend our gardens.  I was the second tenant to move in here, but hey, what do I know?!  I only live here!  We are the newest block in the street, and the most dishevelled after only six years. It’s embarrassing.  But the attitude is that we’re all shitkickers, not entitled to anything better than acceptable, or entitled to a voice – the very thing I can’t stand!!

What amazes and angers me is that it’s so often those claiming to be caring and advocating for those in need, that treat those they advocate for with such disdain and discrimination.  And because I do have a voice, I’ve earned myself a bad extremename at Link.  I could easily write a book with all the stories from living here over the years!  But in keeping with the integrity of Link Housing, when I asked the CEO who their governing body was, he told me the it was their ‘skills based Board’ and provided me the Chairpersons email.  My query as to how they can be governed by themselves has gone unanswered.  I would’ve thought that if a tenant asks, they’d be obliged to give a truthful answer.  I really can’t stand being treated like an idiot, but it comes with living in my world unfortunately.

The chief assets manager did call me yesterday and she’s coming out to meet with me on Thursday with the assets manager and the CEO.  She tells me that it is their responsibility to keep on top of everything here, and they plan to improve their processes, but I’ve heard the second part of that sentence before. We’ll see…

I’m also struggling with accepting events of the past.  The position Jessie’s in is a extremeconsequence of my choice in men. I know all the positive thinking tools. And I know I need to be compassionate and forgiving towards myself to be able to move forward.  However I feel like I’ve gone full circle, and am back at the point of knowing my choices are the reason Jessie has so many problems.  In reality, how can anyone really forgive themselves for their child being sexually assaulted by an ex?  If I was healthier in my mind, she wouldn’t have been assaulted because I wouldn’t have chosen him.

Seeing Jessie so happy after her social get togethers last week, did create a spark in my heart and did give me some relief.  Unfortunately the day to day picture quickly put that spark out.  Our normal is so far off most people’s and I’m finding myself wishing for a different existence.  I feel like I’ve lived in some kind of dysfunction for most of my life.  Things were supposed to settle as I got older, but that hasn’t been the case.

Jessie’s a very intelligent girl, but today she dropped her electives, so is only doing core subjects in middle school.  This leaves her ineligible to go on to Yrs 11 & 12, although she plans on going to TAFE next year.  I’m really worried she’ll struggle with a full workload, as she’s not used to it.  My fear is if she doesn’t want to put the effort in she’ll give it up, and then we’re in trouble.  I know there’s no point worrying about the future, but it’s much easier said than done.

I’ve brought a child into the world who is constantly telling and showing me how much she hates herself.  She doesn’t have much care about her cleanliness or appearance.  Her room is disgusting. She’s blamed me, having shouted at me that I shouldn’t have fucked her father.  What do you say to that?!

As her mum I’ve failed to keep her safe and I know I’ll only be able to forgive myself if she has a contented life.

Then there are the ‘pile ons’

I’m owed over $27 000 in child support arrears, and this financial year owed a paltry $8 per week to contribute to Jessie’s upbringing.  It’s insulting. I’d rather not get anything.

extremeI want out of city living, but I know I’ll never be able to afford to move to the country.  That has to remain just a dream.  I want out of Link Housing, but I can’t afford full rents.

People are not my favourite species.  I’m sick of most people.  So many are arrogant, self centred, unkind, cruel and rude.

It’s been two and a half months since I quit smoking but I’m still having the vivid, extreme dreams.  I wake up feeling like I’m ready for bed.

I could go on but it’s all just whingeing.  So many things are aggravating me that I’m deep breathing so much I’m making myself dizzy.  I fear my head’s likely to explode.  Or I could quite possibly go mad…that sounds more fun.




The Lives of Epilepsy, Emphysema, Blepharitis and Me

epilepsySo Me, Tell Me about Meself.

My name is Kat and I live in Australia. I’m 46 and I’m raising my teenage daughter. She has bipolar, anxiety and PTSD and is schooled via distance education. I’ve been her carer for the past 4 years and have become a blogger and participant in destigmatising mental illness. I’m enjoying my newfound interest in the gym and the various classes they also offer. I want to put on 7 more kilos and get fit and healthy – body and mind. I love growing anything you can eat, and our two mischievous cats.

There are few annoying things that decided to move in with me over the years – into my own body!! Uninvited and unauthorised by me! First was Epilepsy. Then moved in Blepharitis. The newest squatter is Stage 1 COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Emphysema. Apparently the laws are that I cannot evict any of them. That sux! Only option to prevent further damage to the joint is to bring these bad boys under control (insert sound of a whip cracking – ftchaa.)

How Did I Find Out I Had Squatters?

Epilepsy moved in slowly. He’s the untrustworthy tenant whose unpredictability remains constantly in the back of my mind. It’d be 11 since the auras really started. They made quite scared because I didn’t know what was happening to me. I’d call my mum and she’d keep talking to me until I came back to reality and could process her words again.

Roughly two years later the seizures, as I now know they were, started each Saturday at work while doing date entry. One Saturday however, my seizure waited until I was driving home. As a consequence my car was written off. After 4 hours in hospital I was sent home uninjured. A couple of weeks later I was taken to hospital from work after another seizure. Epilepsy had moved in and was getting comfortable.

epilepsyBlepharitis snuck in about two years ago. He’s the irritating tenant that always leaves the tap dripping. I realised my eyes were watering all day for seemingly no reason. At first I thought it was allergies to something, although my eyes weren’t itchy. Not being a major thing, I lived with it for at least 12 months. I then met someone who had the same problem, so thought it might be something medical. I made an appointment with the optometrist.

COPD Emphysema made its presence known 8-9 months ago by way of a nasty, persistent cough after 33 years of smoking. There were times the cough wasn’t as bad, and I put it down to a chest cold – that never went away, yeah right. I’ll be honest – I was afraid so didn’t want to know what was wrong.

Squatters are Identified – The Gloves Are Off!

Epilepsy was diagnosed my first night in hospital. I had my worst grand mal seizure ever, witnessed by the specialist. I woke up the next morning in a hospital gown instead of my pj’s, and quite spaced out. The patient in the bed across from me told me what had happened as I had no recollection. At age 38 I was diagnosed with Epilepsy.

epilepsyI have it pretty much under control with Dilantin. It’s be 4 years since I’ve had a seizure. My excessive consumption of alcohol was blamed, so I don’t drink often and never to excess these days.  You just never know who you’re gonna hook up with drunk! I still have auras, but they are usually short-lived, ending with goosebumps and a steamy sweat. Strangely they are often triggered in the shower. Early last month though, I was having a few auras daily. I’m sure they were brought on by stress, and I increased my medication after a couple of weeks of these. I was exhausted! After two increased doses, they lessened, then stopped.

Blepharitis was picked up by the optometrist. Very basically, the glands that secrete the oils to maintain healthy tears become blocked resulting in dry eyes, making them water. Backward huh?! Each morning I use special wipes to clean my eyelids and tear glands, and drops to try and keep them from becoming dry. They still water every day though. I find it quite embarrassing. People must think I’m crying all the time! Plus it messes up my makeup, which I rarely wear anymore due to my watery eyes. I ALWAYS need tissues.

epilepsyEmphysema didn’t ever try to be quiet or unobtrusive. I was diagnosed a few weeks ago. My biggest fear is suffocation, and the thought of not being able to breathe has scared me into quitting smoking and joining the gym. I’ve been using patches, but have now started Champix which is meant to have a high success rate. Apparently I can’t heal the damage done, but I can stop Emphysema from completely claiming my lungs for his own.

Notice – Position Filled

I would like to personally thank all who applied for the housing management position advertised on the noticeboard in the foyer. The former manager has taken back her resignation which is greatly appreciated.


Written for


Health Over Habit Would Seem The Easy Choice

healthI was going to start by saying that none of us choose to be unhealthy. But I guess by the choices we make, some of us do. I don’t think I stopped for a second and thought ‘do I choose current and future health or to suffer from the current and long term effects of this?’ However, they were still  choices I made. Having known the risks for so long now, it can’t be anything else!

I had my first choke on a cigarette when I was 8. It wasn’t enjoyable. At that age I had the brains and the peer support to not do that again. But then came adolescence. The brains went, and I persisted with the choking and spluttering until I was smoking. There was no peer pressure – some of the boys smoked but none of the girls in my group did.

healthMy health wasn’t something I considered when I was younger. I guess I’ve always had it, so didn’t respect its value. I’ve had a head in the sand belief that I’ll always be okay. Despite signs showing the contrary. I advocate going to the doctor asap. Don’t let things get worse. Yet it took me four months to have a chest x-ray done. And this persistent cough was probably around for that long before I got the referral. But better late than never, x-ray – tick.

Results in, the medical centre called to make an appointment, nothing urgent. Nothing urgent. What a relief! So I decided my cough was nothing and I was healthy. It was two weeks before I went in.

Because of the frame of mind I had previously put myself in, the diagnosis really shocked me! My doctor read out the specialists letter and explained what it meant. Stage 1 COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), emphysema. Emphysema is a frightening word – its meaning even more so. To further motivate me to quit smoking, he showed me the x-rays. My lungs were transparent which they shouldn’t be. That means the lung walls are damaged and very thin. The diaphragm is meant to be curved, which helps expel air from the lungs. Under my left lung it was flat. Under my right it was close to it.

The tears were rolling down my cheeks the whole time and I’d been given the healthbox of tissues. Granted I was running on 4 hours sleep and had been at the police station prior after a sickening event the night before. But still, I knew something wasn’t right, and I’ve had people telling me for ages to stop smoking. My pharmacist has even given me nicotine patches for free, but I’ve chosen to keep up the habit. So crying like a two year old who’s just realised they rooly trooly can’t have everything they want, just doesn’t fly. After 33 years of filling my lungs toxic chemicals, this news shouldn’t have been surprising. Time to put my big girl britches on, think about how much I actually like breathing, and stop fucking smoking!

Now that I have a health issue that affects a vital organ, it makes the decision to choose health over habit very easy. If only ceasing that habit was just as easy! The patches are in use and I have a script for Champix. It’s not just about the nicotine addiction – as I’m using patches, that’s the breezy part of it for me. All the other reasons I smoke is what I’m struggling with. But as long as I’m persistent in creating other “go to’s” I know I can kick it.

What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself  – Abraham Maslow



little steps

The Little Steps That Mean Big Things

little stepsWe’ve had a surprisingly positive start to the year. The little steps Jessie has decided to take, mean so much more than just the actions themselves. To read that Jessie had finished her first day of schoolwork, on the first day of school, before I got home at lunchtime that day, doesn’t sound huge. But for us, it is. And we’ve had a few of them.

Getting Jessie to complete all schoolwork – and with some effort – was a bit of a battle towards the end of last year. With only being required to complete 12 weeks work, I had expected that. As contradictory as I know that sounds, it’s strangely not. Over the Christmas holidays she kept saying she didn’t care about school. So I was dreading the start of Year 10. It was such a massive relief to get home and see work completed on day one. I was SO proud of Jessie. Each days work has continued to be completed and I’m loving her sharing what she is learning with me.

little stepsEducation was something we’d talked about a lot on different occasions, for which I was ‘finger waggled’ by Jessie’s counsellor. I have to work out my own boundaries though. I’d explained to Jessie how important Year 10 is to her future. Without it she would find it hard to go to TAFE, which she wants to do next year. But I went on to say that she is the only one who can achieve what she wants out of life. I can’t force her to study, I can’t force her to do the best she can – she is the only one that can make that choice.

Sometimes Jessie needs a reality check. I’m happy with the balance I’ve found with her however it can be a fine line at times. Naturally I want her to have a better life than the life I’ve been able to provide her, opportunity wise. Plus I’d love her not to meet her future partner in the queue at the dole office!

She is busily planning her future in education though, so something got through. The current goal is to do nursing. She’s put a lot of effort into researching how she can achieve her goal, and is communicating with the Career Advisor from school. That’s another little step meaning big things. Last year she refused to communicate at all with her teachers. This contact is via email, but still, it’s contact! So at this stage she wants to do a Diploma of Nursing at TAFE next year. Apparently she needs to be 16 to attend uni, so will apply to uni the following year. She has it all thought out. Here it comes again – the mum happy dance with disco moves!!

Back tracking a little to the start of the school holidays. I’d accepted the fact that we were having Christmas without Jessie. It wasn’t a good sign as to where she was at. I saw it that way anyway. I’d begun to worry that her isolation might go on for years as it does with Hikikomori. In my eyes that would be disastrous.

little stepsBut the first little steps were made early on this year. And they have continued. Jessie had a couple of friends stay over in the holidays. She ventured up to the shops, they went swimming, we went to the beach. She’s even come with a close friend to her Nanna and Pop’s a couple of times. They went swimming there and another time played tennis. It’s the most time she’s spent outdoors in over 12 months.

Jessie is back at tennis, which she is really enjoying and looks forward to each week. I’ve always asked if she’d like to go back at the start of each term, and her response this time was unexpected and definite.

She’s coming out of her room more and more to talk to me. I’m loving her communicating her trust and faith in me. It’s pretty special that my girl, who can be quite unwell at times, puts me on a pedestal. She’s chosen to re-engage with her mental health care team and is proactive in her own daily management of her issues.

Jessie’s growing up and I’m seeing the strong foundations of an incredibly aware, balanced and empathetic young woman building. I couldn’t ask for more.

This has taught me to always have hope – you never know what’s next.

Little steps, one foot in front of the other… 

little steps


Realisation and the Burden it Brings

realisationSometimes I want to lock myself in the boot!! Maybe I could hide from life in there for a little while? Realisation is a positive thing, especially in relation to ourselves. Being self aware gives us the opportunity to learn and grow and improve things about ourselves that we’d like to. Although sometimes I find it a huge burden.

I recently did a one day meditation course with Kelsang Lhachog about the art of forgiveness and letting go of anger. I learnt that there is no place for anger. Ever. It achieves nothing. Anger prevents us from really letting go and is detrimental to our wellbeing. It was suggested that we set time-frames in which our goal was to not get angry. On a good day, if I didn’t drive anywhere, I can manage well. On a bad day, left to myself, I am such an angry person!! I am so mean and impatient with myself. And it’s been eye opening being aware of how many things frustrate, irritate, annoy and anger me!

This realisation has been really powerful. Mainly because now I am fully aware that things only annoy me because of me. And why do we get angry? Lhachog’s teaching was perfect – because we haven’t got what we wanted, or because things haven’t turned out the way we wanted. We are reacting the same way as a 2 year old throwing a tantrum because they can’t get their own way. And it’s true, dammit! I think about why I’ve become frustrated or angry, and if I’m honest, it’s always for either of those reasons. So…I’m an adult toddler!! Woohoo!

realisationThe positive is that I am now aware of my choices – to either be reactive and continue to behave like a toddler, or to be proactive and do something about it. Being proactive brings me two options – change what I can, or accept what I have no control over and let it go. Much easier said than done. It’s a constant thought process and sometimes I’m looking for a boot to lock myself in. Sometimes I need a break from the realisation that there is so much improvement still required in myself!

I’m also aware of how much I worry about things that are out of my control. I’m so worried about Jessie and dreading the coming school year. My anxiety around Jessie’s schooling is heightened by the news that she is actually only on a temporary enrolment with Sydney Distance Ed High School. In addition to the first three weeks work for this year, I also received a letter from them advising me that Jessie’s enrolment will be terminated if she doesn’t complete all work with effort. I’ve organised tutoring for Jessie which she is not happy about, so that’s going to be interesting. Selfishly, I just want these last three years of school over with.

Jessie’s schooling –  ANXIETY GENERATOR #1!! 

realisationI know it’s pointless worrying. Things are going to turn out the way they do whether I worry or not. But what if Jessie doesn’t complete Year 10? No Rosa which she needs if she wants to go to TAFE at any stage. She only had 13 weeks of Year 9. To me, this year is vital. My heart sinks to think she’ll throw away this year of schooling. My concern for Jessie’s future is overwhelming sometimes. Battling to keep my mind in the day, planning for the future is on hold.

My trek to becoming the person I want to be means hard work.

I have to be aware of my behaviours, be honest about my motives, and admit my shortcomings. There are so many! Some days I just want a break to be content with who I am. I do like who I am, but it can be very difficult being me! My goal is to find it easy to be me – to have a peaceful mind.






Who Cares for the Carer?

caresWho cares for the carer? It’s a good question. Raising children with mental health issues, it’s not often something we think about. All our efforts go into parenting and dealing with the daily issues or stresses associated with mental health conditions. We are usually the last person we think about, if we consider ourselves at all.

Why is that? Do you tell yourself you don’t have the time or the money? Does it make you feel guilty doing something positive for yourself while your child is struggling? Whatever the reason, it’s a faulty way of thinking that we can change.

We are the rock for our kids, we need to be the strongest we can be. At some carespoint that rock is going to crack without regular self care. When I first began learning to take time for myself amidst the chaos of daily life, it was suggested I make a Safety Plan. It’s simply a list of things to do when life is not going so well and I’m feeling really stressed with Jessie.

When the brain is acutely stressed we can’t think clearly. The idea of the safety plan is to give some written direction and respite in those occasions of extreme crisis. It takes you away from the potentially unsafe situation and allows you time out to calm down. In turn it is hoped that the risk of harm to yourself or others (physically, emotionally or mentally) is greatly reduced.

My daughter read my articles last week  about her early onset bipolar. She told me how she was glad that she went through that really violent time when she was younger. Her reasoning was that she is only getting bigger and could have really hurt someone if she was an older teen or an adult.  Even at 12 her strength in her rages was overpowering. De-escalation before it gets to that point is a skill Jessie now has and uses. As we use our Safety Plans and learn to de-escalate, it eventually starts to have a flow on effect.

caresThe simplicity of the Plan is what makes it so effective. If you are no calmer after the doing the first thing on your list, you go to the next, etc, etc. If you get to the end of your list and you’re still feeling wound up, start from the top and work your way down your list again. Do this as many times as you need.

Make your Plan personal for you. Remember it is NOT for goal setting, Don’t add going for a jog if it’s something you think you should do, but never do. Don’t leave out having a cigarette if you’re a smoker. This is about indulgence! Anything that could cause us to feel like we’ve failed at something is categorically forbidden!!

Include activities that are practical and doable in any moment. Add between 10-15 activities. Choose things to do that you enjoy and that will have a calming effect. Keep it on the fridge or somewhere where you can’t miss it as a chaotic mind is likely to forget you even have it. This I know from experience!

As time moves forward you can alter your plan to add new hobbies or delete old caresones. My Safety Plan is still in use, although I now call it my Self-Care Plan as I feel safer now with less volatile and distressing times. I have so much more confidence in myself as a parent than I’ve had in preceding years. I must admit it could do with an update. You will find that the more you use your plan, it will become second nature and will not require as much consultation. Still, it’s a handy tool to always have.

To give an idea of what a Safety Plan can look like, this is my original list;

  • sit on my balcony and have a cigarette
  • make a cup of tea, sit outside and be grateful for my garden
  • do some work in my garden
  • smile and think of things I’m grateful for
  • sit on my bed and do a quick meditation
  • read over my Tuning Into Teens course books
  • call Mum
  • play HayDay
  • write in my journal
  • contact a friend
  • call Parenting Line  1300 1300 52
  • call Lifeline 13 11 14

Smiling and feeling grateful has an amazing effect on mood. It really does make you feel more positive. Try it, and if your mood doesn’t lift, smile for longer, be grateful for something smaller (could be as simple as being grateful the sun is shining).

So, who cares for the carer? The answer is you.




Giving Kids Language Around Emotions

Language is the most powerful tool we have. 

 Language gives us the means to:

• communicate our thoughtslanguage
express our feelings
ask for what we need
• learn
• teach
• understand
• belong

Take a long, deep breath in through your nose…and slowly exhale.

Imagine you are in a tiny space, about the size of….you. There are no windows and it’s dark and usually stormy. The door seems to be stuck closed and you can’t get out. The thunder is so sudden and deafening. The lightning strikes so bright and frightening. The air is becoming thick and clammy. Fear starts taking over. Then you start fearing the fear. Claustrophobia starts to set in…

This is too much, you need to get out! You NEED to get out!! You can hear people out there. Your breathing is fast and feeling laboured. You think you are pleading with them for help, but all they can hear is the storm. You are begging, crying. You just need someone to open the door, even just a bit. But all they hear is the thunder. All they see is the lightning. There’s only one way you’re getting out of there – and that’s to explode. With that comes collateral damage, but at the time there doesn’t seem to be any other option.

Now imagine you have language and are simply able to say, “The storm’s getting too much in here. Could someone please open the door for me? It seems to be stuck and I can’t open it on my own today.”

languageThat’s my analogy on what it’s like for kids who have mood disorders before they learn language around it. Jessie grew up with me reminding her to use her words, but she didn’t ever have the intensity of emotion she grew to have. When emotions hit the red zone for Jessie, she used to become extremely abusive and aggressive. Those feelings can be consuming, confusing and frightening for adults. Children can find them even more so as they simply don’t have the maturity or understanding to handle it.

As parents, with the right tools, we can empower our kids with positive language skills.

We started off with a sealed jar of water with coloured glitter in it. It’s purpose was to encourage Jessie to recognise when she was escalating. It then gave her a means to communicate that to me in a more positive manner. The jar sat on the kitchen bench. She would go to it and furiously shake the jar and say through gritted teeth, “my glitter is all over the place!!”. The colourful glitter would flutter around in the water, taking her focus off the blackness of her mood. Jessie used that until the glitter had no more colour. It was well used and very effective.

We then had an emotion chart that I put on the fridge. It was for both of us, so we could let each other know where we were at. We had a magnet each and would place it in the relevant quadrangle. Jessie used this willingly as well. Kids want to have a better outlet, just as much as they need it.

self harm

There are so many emotion charts to choose from online. Click here for some examples on Google. They are a fabulous teaching tool, because it requires the kids to read through the emotion names to choose the relevant feeling. Without them even realising, they are learning language to help them express themselves constructively.

A favourite of Jessie’s, used during our admission at Coral Tree Family Services, were St Luke’s Innovative Bear Cards. From the picture you can see why children are drawn to these.

coral tree

Talking to our kids about the cards or emotions they have chosen is an important part of their learning (or re-learning) process. It gives us insight into how they are thinking. It also gives us the opportunity to emotion coach.

With language around her feelings, and the confidence she has gained in communicating with me, Jessie has a much better handle on things. 2 years on she will still have low scale outbursts, yell, swear and slam doors. However she de-escalates very quickly now, and without fail comes and apologises and we talk about what’s upsetting her.

Being able to recognise and name emotions, makes kids feel more in control. The more in control they feel, the less out of control they will behave.



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