[Journal] Round the Twist

It’s been a little while since I updated this blog, and it’s my fault. We did the house move, I got really sick for a while, had a massive flare, had a hard drive crash, wrestled with depression and was generally either in bed or at an appointment. I probably could have written a journal in the mean time, but I was pretty emotionally exhausted and have been dealing with settling in issues here and, honestly, I couldn’t outlay the energy to write a big, long blog update and deal with things on my end as well. So now that I’ve managed to calm things down a little on this end, I can update you all and let you know I’m still here.

So, to begin. Moving was a hassle. Not so much for the physical moving of boxes, but Manthing and I have moved in from a small 3 bedroom house on our own to the even smaller family 2 bedroom home. It’s been a process of culling furniture, playing tetris with boxes to maximise space, clearing out 20 years of hoarding from a garage and generally destroying dustbunnies in any way I can. My mother is a lovely woman but, due to her own fairly rough past, has a history of some mental health issues which are self-perpetuating with her unhealthy behaviour at present. Manthing and I, amongst other reasons, have moved in here in order to hopefully help her, keep her company and ease her back into the world at her own pace. She now has reason to get out and leave the house, eats well (Because I’m an amazing cook!) and has reasonable expectations set for behaviour and routine. Long story short, it’s a good thing.

The problem I face is that this is also the house I left when I was 18 and my mother and I historically have not had the best relationship. I find a lot of her behaviour incredibly frustrating and senseless, and I’m often a little on the snippy side with her and Manthing since I’ve had nothing but above-average pain levels since moving here. It’s somewhat of a tetchy matter and something we’re working towards, but the situation is highly unpredictable due to the present mental health issues in this house. I don’t often know if I’m speaking to my mother or a 16 year old and since these aren’t issues she will address herself, I’m rather at a stalemate about the whole thing and the best I can do is take each day as it comes and do my best to be understanding about it all.

I’ve also had to resign with a new Disability Employment Support service due to policy changes – everyone under 35 and on disability pension is now considered a lazy, layabout dole bludger and MUST return to work, regardless of their personal circumstances. I’ve taken great pains over the last 6 months to explore my educational options and I’d sincerely like to follow up and complete my Vet Nursing studies with a view to continue on to Vet Science, but it has to be done at a snails pace with my body and neurological issues. I’d also enjoy furthering my silversmithing skills and learning how to manufacture set-stone and silver jewellery, but the course arrangements for that make it almost impossible.  But, it’s been decided for me that I must return to work, despite also running a small business. You know, the small business that doesn’t make minimum wage presently due to my shit health? Yeah. So under present circumstances I’m being forwarded for admin/reception jobs I have no say over.

At this point it only looks like one or two days a week, which should be fine in theory, but I’m rather concerned about what’s going to happen when I have a repeat of the last 2 weeks where I have no choice but to spend it in bed or face hospitalisation. I’m damn good at that line of work and can run an entire corporate office while half asleep (and have done so in the past!), but I’m concerned about the days I can’t work properly, I have to go home early or can’t turn up at all. If I don’t make my weekly hours, my pension gets cut entirely and Manthing and my mother don’t have enough to cover the cost of my bills and medication through just the two of them.

So, in the mean time, I’m doing my best to get the business up and happening again, despite everything being in storage. The reason you haven’t seen anything of the 100 Unicorns Project these last few weeks is because I was busy turning my last drawing into a completed colouring page for sale via PDF. It was a little bit of a runabout considering it was my very first, but I learned a lot from the process that will make it much easier for me with the next one. My plan is to release a whole bunch of colouring pages for sale in my Etsy store that will, at the very least, put a few dollars a fortnight into my pocket to make it easier to pay for other things. I considered starting a Paetron for this blog, but I don’t think I offer enough to warrant people contributing towards the blog financially. Furthermore, I think that the few people that follow this blog have health issues of their own which isn’t a cheap thing, so their money would be better spent going towards their own bills rather than paying for me to write and draw. At least with the colouring pages, there’s an actual transaction taking place – they buy the colouring page, they get something for their money. I’m still deliberating wheather I should put the link to the listing here or not, since this blog provides me a degree of anonymity and my shop breaches that. I suppose if enough people are interested in spending two dollars on a page, I would consider it, but that’s not the purpose of this blog post.

“Over the weekend I was referred to a potential new GP. The incident left me rather upset and I wrote a quick post about it on another site, and I figured it was finally time for me to post it here.

So today I saw a potential new GP. I knew we wouldn’t see eye to eye when the first thing out of his mouth was that one of my two major debilitating conditons was psychological and he didn’t believe in it, amongst other things.

While I firmly acknowledge that a good portion of pain management and mitigation comes from a good headspace and that stress and psychological hiccups will increase my pain levels and potentially CAUSE flares for me, disregarding factual evidence based in scientific publications in favour of willful ignorance to uphold your baised and outdated views is frankly a breech of the hipocratic oath. Disregaring the research of fellow doctors and the confirmation of verified conditions in the form of a diagnosis is disrespect for your colleagues and, most importantly, blatantly denying the very real symptoms I face on a faily basis ignores the fact that I am not just a record sheet. I am a human being whose existence and suffering and joy and sadness is as real as anyone else’s. You can not ignore the patient in favour of the medicine. You can’t seperate the condition from the afflicted.

I’ve gone through countless versions of this experience when I see a new doctor for the first time, and it never gets any easier when it happens. If i had a broken arm or fractured pelvis, a quantifiable and documentable deviation from health, you would never dream of telling me that I should just “get my shit together” and “get on with life”. My condition would be real and visible and if you told me that the fracture was purely in my head, you would be booted out of medicine, called a complete imbicle and everyone would hoo ra in behind me about how inconsiderate you were.

Life with an invisible illness stretches so far beyond “I’m sick” that it’s often impossible to explain it to people who have never experienced anything like it. It’s not just the struggle of your own body working against you. It’s having to fight to have people believe you because you pass as healthy and able bodied. It’s having medical practitioners tell you that they don’t believe you or that they don’t believe in the condition. It’s being questioned every time you need pain medication. It’s being labled a drug seeker, an attention whore, lazy, unmotivated and even a hypochondriac. It’s having every action scrutinised by people who deny the truth of your existence, and it still being acceptible for them to vocally deny your issues. It’s a fight. Every single day. Not just against your own body, but against the world. For some people it’s just against doctors. For others, it’s against your friends and family too.

It’s the uncertainty of knowing whether you will be believed and it’s not wanting to talk about your illnesses because of it. It’s wanting so badly to pass as healthy to avoid the scrutiny and yet hating every single second that the beast you’re fighting is invisible to everyone but yourself and the rare few that know that monster, too.

And it fucking sucks.”

 

I figure this might be something people can relate to. I’m still very exhausted from everything that’s happened over the past few weeks, so I might leave this blog entry off here and do my best to keep some more regular posting from here on in.

❤ Abi

[Journal] Depression is like mold…

So, tonight I decided that having depression is a bit like fighting brown mold from the Pathfinder universe.

Brown mold is an interesting thing. It’s a pretty standard looking thing that you find plastered to walls and floors in dungeons, and when left alone it’s more or less harmless. However, when you encounter the brown mold, that’s where things get interesting. When it finds a source of heat (see: endothermic creatures, adventurers, pets, etc.), it feeds off that heat and draws it from any surrounding sources until they are ice cold. Anything within range of it’s draw begins to take cold damage as it eats away at the heat source magically. If you blast it with fire to try and destroy it, it simply doubles in size and continues on it’s merry existence.

Depression is an interesting thing. It’s pretty standard and most people have experienced it. You find little seeds of it stuck inside people, and when everything is going well, it’s more or less harmless. However, when you encounter depression head on because it’s been set off, that’s where things get interesting. When it finds a source of happiness (friends, family, favourite things, etc.), it feeds of that joy until it’s source has been extinguished – replaced by the same apathy and misery depression makes. People within range of someone affected by depression begin to take friendship damage as the condition causes the sufferer to push people away and find isolation, something that’s not always visible. If you drag the sufferer out into a social event or force them into ‘fun’, the depression doubles in size and leads to further feelings of isolation and sadness.

My life is undergoing some pretty big changes right now. Like. Literally life changing changes. And I’d doing my best to take it in my stride, but I’m no saint and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m actually afraid of change. I’ll run at it with a warrior’s face when I have to, but by the same token, I’m happy to just sit here and mind my own business and just do my own thing. This change has unsettled me. It’s changed the way I interact with people, it’s changed what I’ve been doing with my time and it changes how much patience I’ve had over the last few weeks -both with other people and myself.

It’s honestly starting to show. Because on one hand, I’m handling things damn well. I got through a funeral, helped with the prep, organised 50% of everything, have held things together and not slapped heads when relatives made truly horrid comments on the day, and then called my mum after to repeat them. I’m helping with the legal matters. I’m sorting the house. I’m slowly adjusting to the life changes I’m facing. I’m doing a damn fine job. On the other hand, my depression is out of hand, my anxiety is a dickweed, I feel I can count on one hand the friends that are actual friends and my body is an asshole. I feel like I’m fraying at the edges while simultaneously being the atlas of my world right now. And it’s incredibly confusing because I feel like I can’t be both of them at the same time.

I’m going to leave the blog here for tonight because I’m just too damn exhausted to analyze the situation much further. But I do plan on having at least one comic this week if everything goes to plan. Anyway, it’s almost 2am. I’ll pick up more on this another night.

[Journal] Dear blog, I still love you and myself.

It’s funny how deflecting things and avoiding them can get easier and easier the more you do it. My 2015 ended in some major health issues (which I’m still dealing with), some catastrophic friendship failures and a good helping of correcting bullshit in my life. One thing I’ve prided myself on lately is that, for all my bitching and moaning about things that upset me, I still make effort to change them – why bother complaining if I’m not going to do anything about it?

My blog has been very quiet in the last few months. Between emotional, physical and the rare social expense to my energy, I’ve been left with not much to engage in things I’d like to do and have spent more or less all my ‘free time’ trying to mitigate the crippling exhaustion I’ve been dealing with. It’s not ideally how I would like to spend my time, but it’s what I need to do right now, and I’m making a pointed effort to place myself and my needs – as a physical body, as an emotional person and as a loving creature – first. This means certain things have been discontinued, boundaries of friendships have been made clear and even (god help me), standing up for myself, politely, when things upset me. The last is something I have a great deal of trouble doing, but you have to start somewhere.

I suppose the reason for this blog is that, while most people are shouting about “it’s 2016, time for a new me!”, I wanted to make a point of saying that I’m going to continue on with the positive changes in my life that I made in 2015, and will keep attempting to develop myself as a person and to meet my needs. I’m putting it down in this blog for two reasons.

The first being that it’s been a bloody long time since I’ve shown my blog any love. I miss the wonderful connections I’ve made with people here, the unconditional love and support I’ve received through my tough times and as a promise of sorts that my resolution to make myself a better person involves really outlining what makes me me in comics. I’ve found it a fantastic medium to convey bits about myself that I couldn’t otherwise describe, and if my scribblings make a difference to just one person who feels a little lost with the shit they’re dealing with, then it’s all been worth it. That and I get to draw stuff. Fuckyeah.

The second reason for this blog post is that this is now in writing. This is a contract I’m making with myself. Not just for this year, but as an ongoing thing. This is my way of etching in ‘stone’ my agreement with myself, and I feel anyone who reads this blog can bear witness to it, and hold me to this should you think I’m not meeting my own goals in a healthy way.

Dear Abigail from this moment onwards,

This is a promise you are making to yourself. Not just for 2016, but from now on. You need to remember this when you are in both good times and hard. Even if you can’t apply it every day, you need to remember it is here. From now on, you must remember:

  • You are loved. So very loved. More than you realise. From now on, you must remember to be gentle with yourself, because there are people that think you are incredible, even when you can’t see it yourself. You also must learn to love yourself. This doesn’t have to mean stroking an ego, but it means treating your body with care. Nurturing your creative side when you need to. Laughing because you can. Sleeping when your body needs it, regardless of how much you want to watch Netflix. Not fretting over things you can’t change. You need to stop putting yourself through your own punishment and learn to live with the body you have, and love it because it’s the only one you will get.
  • Abi, you must learn what your boundaries are in friendships and you must learn to apply them firmly. You don’t need three hundred friends, but you do need people that build you up and encourage you as a person. You need people that don’t always put their own needs first and you need people that, though they may not be there all the time, people that will be there when you need them the most. People that do not respect your boundaries as a friend are no good for you and will use you because they have no boundaries of their own.
  • You need to realise that friends are not family. Yes, you are allowed to be close, but trying to replace the empty space in your heart left behind by a bad family will only end in more unhealthy relationships. People who value you, and who you value, will be around in your life because they WANT to be there, not because you call them brother, sister, mum or dad. And sometimes it can be hard to accept this, and that’s okay. You have all the time in the world.
  • You need to stop putting on the brave face. The war is over, the battle has been won. You don’t need to keep on keeping on. Take time out to rest and look after yourself. Even the best warriors need to sleep. If you need to cry to feel better, then cry. It doesn’t make you a lesser person, it makes you one that tends to your needs and this is a good thing.
  • It can be so easy to compare your own life to others, and see nothing but shortcomings. You don’t live the same life as them, nor they you. You will do nothing but make yourself unhappy if you put them side by side, because you have climbed mountains to be where you are today, and you are still standing. Remember how far you have come and realise that it’s okay to have days where getting out of bed and surviving is your biggest achievement. That is enough.
  • Abi, I want you to learn to love again. I want you to let your guard down and put trust in people that deserve it. I want you to realise that sometimes the first step towards love is to forgive people, and that sometimes that person is ourselves. We are only human, and if gods can err, then what pedestal do we put ourselves on by thinking we would not do the same?
  • I want you to live more. I want you to appreciate the small things like the smell of rain or being out with friends, but I want you to do this in a way that won’t harm yourself. Stop pushing yourself so hard to have fun, because the day after isn’t worth it sometimes. Not all the time, but sometimes.
  • I want you to break these rules when you need to. Only you can be the judge of that, and I will hold you to this. Follow your own gut and stop looking for the approval of others to do what YOU need to do, because nobody else is going to know if you don’t.
  • Most of all, Abi. Keep dreaming. Go to far off places, read books, write stories, make beautiful things and turn the world around you into something beautiful. When all else fails and our body doesn’t want to work, we still have our dreams. And when our body picks itself back up, we will march towards them again.

You are an amazing, talented, young woman that is worthy of love. You are not broken. You’re just built differently to others, and those worthy of your love will see this and never hold things beyond your control against you, and they will never throw your illnesses in your face. Stop being afraid of this, please.

It won’t always be easy, and sometimes you will need to sit in a blanket and cry because things aren’t going the way you want them to. But don’t give up. Never give up. Your body may be against you some days, but you are still a warrior woman inside with a passion that burns bright enough to illuminate the world around you. You will make it through the dark night and, when you do, the sun itself will be jealous of how bright you shine. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be true to yourself. Never stop being you.

– The Abigail that believes in you.

 

[Journal] Tonight is a bad night

There’s simply nothing to make one feel more alone in the world than knowing that if you publicly ask for help, all the wrong people are going to answer.

Tonight isn’t a good night for me. It’s now almost 3am and that means I’ve been sitting on the very cusp of a full-blown anxiety attack for almost 9 hours. Despite taking all my medication and two beta-blockers (which are supposed to help with the fight/flight response), I’ve not been able to calm down. I’m on the edge of tears over nothing at all. I literally cried because I watched an episode of My Little Pony. I don’t know, really.

I’m in both physical and emotional pain, the latter being the worse of the two tonight. I’ve tried everything that normally helps. Everything. Hell, I’ve tried to go out and do a thing, have a social life and expand my brain a bit. Just shrug off the fear that some kind of horrible doom is impending or that life as I know it will crumble before me. I had a thumping heart and adrenaline rush the whole way there, the whole time I was there and the whole way home. I’m somewhere between proud of myself for achieving what I have so far, and filled with crippling doubt and emotional exhaustion.

Tonight is one of those nights where I wanted desperately to reach out to a friend, but because of the time and the day, nobody I want to talk to about something like this was around. I don’t hold it against any of them. I spoke to manthing, but sometimes you just want to talk to someone who hasn’t heard it all before, and I feel like the ones that were available would hear me, but wouldn’t actually listen.

I’m hesitant to write about personal issues and things involving friends on my blog these days, namely because I know that a few follow it through one way or another. A major fear of mine is that, in revealing how I really feel about things, I’ll face repercussions for it in person. It’s one of the reasons that I’ve deliberately kept this blog entirely anonymous. On that note, I will expect any individual that knows me in person to show me the respect I deserve here and not confront me over my views and feelings. If you respect me as a person and, indeed, as a friend, you will understand that sometimes one simply can’t be upfront and honest in the way we intent. We don’t want to hurt feelings or upset people, but to deny our own reactions and emotions is exactly what put me in this shitty place tonight to begin with.

I have some bad people in my life right now, and it really comes to the fore on a night like tonight when there’s a stark realisation that all my mental health support network no longer exists. Once upon a time, I had a ‘family’, I had close friends, I had people I called brother and sister and I felt safe. I felt like, even though I might come across monsters in the dark, I would always have those people behind me. In the last year, everything changed. People I trusted abused my emotions in the worst possible ways. In unforgivable, selfish, twisted ways when I begged for help and respite. My needs were shunted aside when I needed people most, while they marched up and dumped their life on my doorstep and looked at me expectantly. People I trusted beyond what I probably should have. People that I respected and gave a little bit of myself to. “Keep it safe, please”. Instead, they used it as a front door to my emotions and time. They played on my emotions and my intrinsic need to have people in my life when it was obvious to everyone but me that this was doing more harm than good.

So tonight, when I need someone to turn to, someone to tell me that “you know what, it’s going to be okay. I know you’re afraid now, you’re allowed to be afraid, but it’ll get better and you won’t need the fear tomorrow, so leave it here”, I have a crushing sense of loneliness. Even when manthing is one room over. I need these people in my life again. The friends, the lovers, the family, and I have only empty spaces where my impression of people once stood; their figures having wandered somewhere far from here, leaving only disappointment and child-like pain in their shadows. I find myself on a night like tonight struggling with demons that often feel lager than myself, and instead of people that listen, I have people who hear what they want and talk about themselves. I have people that tell me they understand and, on nights like tonight, I find that more of an insult than a comfort, because they don’t. They can’t feel my heart beating into a cavity the child in me has carved out with scratching nails and wild eyes. They can’t see the way it’s filled with terror from everything – named and nameless – and they don’t understand that the one thing I need tonight is someone who will truly listen and simply say “I am here for you. Please talk to me. Let me listen”.

Instead, I have people that ignore my outright plea for help to substitute it for something else that they find more fitting. Instead of understanding that, ultimately, I need to walk through this on my own, but want someone to wait for me at the other side, they walk next to me and tell me about all the woes and troubles they’re facing and do nothing but load the wagon I’m dragging down an already rocky road. I know if the wheels fall off, they won’t stop to help. They will take my stopping as a queue to simply heap more baggage on. I say this with experience.
Any other night I take that on willingly. Any other night, I grit my teeth as a simple greeting becomes a segue for them spewing their grief on me and expecting me to be a therapist. I’m not, and I likely never will be, by choice. I find my friendships abused time and time again by people mistaking my concern for their welfare for an open invitation to dump their life story on me and then demand I fix it for them. But not tonight.

Tonight I have been afraid of making it known that I need help, because the people that will answer are the ones with an agenda – they’re the ones time and time again that will see my unhappiness and take that as an excuse to ride the misery wagon in what they seem to think is tandem. The problem is that they don’t help me pull, they sit and expect me to do the work, and I’m finding that time and time again, that hurts more than all the fear and heartache in the world – knowing that this person holds their own issues in higher regard than yours but wraps them up in paper and presents them to you as a gift, and expects you to say thank you.

I have some beautiful, wonderful people in my life. I have the people that tell me that I’ve always got someone on my side, I have the ones that DO understand because I know they’ve walked that road before. I have people that respect my boundaries and, while we can commiserate together, they know that everyone has limits, including themselves. Right now, however, is one of those rare times when I feel that none of these people are around. They very well might be, but in one of those silly moments where I want to show them the same consideration they’ve shown me as a friend, I find myself very hesitant to message someone at 3am just to talk. I suppose this is somewhat of a self-dug hole where I find myself placing the needs of others before my own, but friendships are about give and take, not clinging to a drowning man and expecting him to take you back to shore.

Tonight, I am unwell. I have a sickness, a malaise of the mind and heart that is just as real as any other kind of injury or disease. Tonight I am going to crawl into bed, curl up close to manthing and do the same thing I would do for any cold or flu – sleep it off and hope I feel a little better tomorrow.