I’m still here guys!

It may not seem like it, but I’ve been working hard on my blog- just not writing posts. I’m prepping the blog to branch out into some little business adventures. Watch this space – it’s going to be exciting! In the meantime, my focus will drift back to my memoir, as I need the first draft finished by 17 March. I promise I’ve been working on it – here’s a little excerpt…

My baby brother has painted rosebud lips. Rouged cheeks. Long dark lashes. His face is round and perfect, crowned by wisps of dark hair. The corners of his mouth curve into a gentle smile. Five weeks old, with the silky soft complexion of a newborn and the double chin of a healthy, nine-pound baby. Delicate ears foreshadow a slimmer, more athletic build later in life – much like his two younger siblings to come. His eyes are softly closed and his nose is the perfect button with a wide bridge, so familiar in an infant’s face.

But it’s a lie. It’s all a lie. The colours are painted onto a black and white photo – a common practice in the sixties. It’s the only photo ever taken, in an era predating the commonality of photography we now take for granted. It was taken at the morgue, sometime after he died. The soft blue background of the coloured-in photograph compliments the pink cheeks and pristine white nightgown. Yet despite the false colours and two-dimensional image, it’s obvious he’s dead. The photograph conveys the deathly stillness of his body along with the unnatural colours of his face.

So there we go – proof! In the meantime a guest blogger coming along – hopefully on Monday. She’s a beautiful soul trapped in mental torment and uses art to express herself.

I’ve been sick. Not just man flu – but with a nasty fluey thing followed by viral bronchitis. I’ve been coughing up a lung for the past two weeks, and the nice man at the hospital said I could cough for three more weeks. Good news though – with all the meds and puffers I now have, it’s dissipating. Still get that run-over-by-a-truck feeling by lunchtime, but the asthma meds keep me shaky and hyper. So bit of a catch 22. I’m on the mend though.

Now – mental health update.

Medications: I’m lowering the dose of one of my restless legs medications and this is having a very positive impact, as the side effect (apparently) of that particular med is compulsive behaviours. So while I have to wean off it very slowly, and replace with other meds, it’s an incredibly positive step. I’m already at a half dose and going really well.

I’ve also halved my anti-depressant. Something I did alone, but have now told my GP and psychologist. I’ve been a bit wobbly, but I’m confident all will be good. Hard to tell with so much physical stuff going on (cried buckets of tears the last two weeks with this stupid viral thing), but I feel really positive about these changes – even if it means being in a fluctuating situation for a while.

Eating: The question I’m constantly asked – Are you eating?! Yes. I’m doing awesome – in my opinion. I’m not on a strict schedule but I eat three main meals a day, and a snack or two sometimes. Not binging. Not purging. Not restricting. And – here’s the biggie – I’ve stopped night time grazing. Which was huge and always left me wanting to compensate the following day. The biggest red flag is always whether a behaviour causes a need to compensate.

How did this magic happen? Everyone talks about this fast or that fast. My psychologist says fasting is great for people without eating disorders but is treading dangerous waters. None-the-less, I’m effectively doing the 16:8 protocol, but 14:10 and not following the other “rules” (because rules are big red flags). I eat ten hours a day, fast for 14. It sounds like a “diet”, but once I’ve finished dinner I just wait 14 hours for breakfast. So if dinner’s done at 7pm, eat breakfast at 9am. No food in between.

I was hesitant to put this on here, as I know people with eating disorders read this blog. It’s worked for me, with no ill effect, no compensatory thoughts or behaviours, my psychologist and my husband are happy with the status quo. For another eating disordered person, this same plan could be a major trigger. Be careful. Know yourself. Tracking food is considered a really important tool for managing eating disorders – I’ve always found it triggering. Same with planning – it doesn’t free me from the need to think about food, it just feeds my obsession with planning and makes me think about food more. So if YOU have an eating disorder – think carefully before making changes and talk it over with a trusted person (friend, family, counselor). But for me – it’s years since my eating has been this consistent. The quality of my food intake could do with some improvement, but that’s step two. Getting there.

Self harm: Always my alternative when I’m eating well. It’s the old transference issue – don’t solve the problem, just move it elsewhere. Like cleaning my lounge room by moving all the mess to the dining room… Same mess, different room. My self harm behaviours had moved to my feet. They were looking a right bloody mess. It was a compulsive behaviour and stress reliever. They’re not fully healed but almost there. More importantly, the thoughts and urges are dissipating. When distressed it’s still a go-to thought pattern, but not a go-to behaviour. I’m choosing to use an app, write, walk, or find an alternate stress reliever.

Anxiety: I hate anxiety. It really fucking sucks. It doesn’t even make sense. I can only assume that random moments of anxiety coming from nowhere, for no reason, is a result of me having suppressed something earlier in the day (week, month.) I hate my inability to process mild stress in a mild manner. Everything feels catastrophic. More so when sick (honestly – this is the most sick I’ve been in decades.)

How do I manage it? I’m not using food or self harm behaviours – which is why it feels like I’m more anxious all the time – I’m less numb. There are some great apps. A gorgeous friend of mind gifted me a program called address-stress I’ve started. Anxiety is not just a day time problem. The sleep study showed my fight/flight system is on 24/7 – even when I’m sound asleep I’m highly anxious. There’s no relaxation time, I’m in a constant state of hypervigilance. Not fun. The solution? Work on the day time anxiety, and it should filter through to the night time. Another work in progress.

So that’s my update for the new year.

I think it’s pretty blood positive. I feel good about things that are happening. There are projects in the making I desperately hope become money-making ventures (lack of income is my primary anxiety). I’m working hard, but not working at all – if that makes sense. No income, but I’m starting to believe in income-potential.

Please be patient if you don’t hear a lot from me for a while. I’m really working on this memoir now. I have a short window to do a lot of writing! I’ll keep everyone updated with how it’s going. Maybe drip feed a few little tidbits here and there!

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