My life

Lurching from one disaster to another...just a suburban princess trying to get by!

Monday, 18 June 2012


Sometimes a picture you expect to have to delete is just too gorgeous.

This is untouched, save my name being added.

Helps you believe there is someone up there doesn't it?

Jo xxx

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


Warning: This post contains details regarding mental health and suicide. 
If you are unable to cope with these concepts or would rather not proceed then please don't read on.

Part 4 of my series on depression & suicide.  Please find Part 1 , Part 2 & Part 3 via these links.

I will admit it. I just didn't understand people who either comitted or even attempted suicide. 

I understood depression well enough, I have suffered it on and off for years.

My automatic thought when learning of someone's suicide was that they were so selfish, nothing was bad enough to justify the mess and pain left behind.  To give up on life, on family & friends, on God was the ultimate act of selfishness.

Then something changed.  My disease morphed into a savage, evil, all-consuming beast.  My depression turned into one so severe that I truly believed that suicide was the ONLY way out.  Thought didn't come into it.  I just wanted to end the pain, the blackness, to stop feeling.

Winston Churchill was right when he coined the name "The Black Dog" to describe his depression.  If it were a real dog you would euthanise it, trust me!

The problem is that it isn't the sufferer who is selfish, it is the disease.  Something I have learnt the hard way.

This bout of depression has been my worst ever, in the past, a month or two, a couple of courses of medication and I was OK.  This is different, has been going on for over 12 months if I am completely honest.  I have been treated since September last year, and this year despite medication, regular GP visits and councelling it spiralled out of control.

This is my second bout of suicidal ideation this year, and by far the worst.  Last time (February), more meds and a change of scene seemed to make a difference.  Afterwards I seemed to be better...until I decided to kill myself.

I have now been in hospital for over a month, am on my third lot of meds, plus anti-anxiety medication and medication to help me sleep, plus pain medication to overcome the effects of the others.  I do not sleep, and whilst I am not suicidal, I'm not particularly interested either way if I live or die.  I am able to say that whilst here in hospital I am safe, and I can handle short periods away from the hospital.

I will still be here for some time, the new medication has not yet kicked in.  But in the meantime I am learning strategies to manage my disease, my warning signs, my triggers, how to handle the outside world.  I am learning to practice mindfulness, to live in the moment, to be grateful for the small things.

I have a brilliant, loving and supportive band of family and friends, everything to live for, but it still frightens me how quickly destructive thoughts can kick in and take over.

I am living day by day, no, make that hour by hour, in the knowledge that my mood can change in an instant and I am not well enough to look after myself yet.

So if you were of the same opinion as me, that those who commit suicide are somehow weak and selfish, the next time you hear that someone has either committed or attempted suicide, try to think again, I know I will!

If you are suffering a mental illness or considering suicide,
please talk to someone, your GP, call Lifeline on 13 11 44
or go to your local hospital emergency department.

If you are in physical danger please call 000 (Australia only).

Jo xxx

Thursday, 7 June 2012

A myth...suicide is painless

Warning: This post contains details regarding mental health and suicide. 
If you are unable to cope with these concepts or would rather not proceed then please don't read on.

The information supplied is from my personal experience and should not replace professional medical advice.

Part 3 of my series on depression & suicide.  Please find Part 1 & Part 2 via these links.

Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realise and I can see...
that suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please...

Now let me start with a couple of exceptions.  I am not talking about people who make the decision to die rather that face a more horrifying death, such as those who jump from burning buildings.  I am also not talking about those who make the snap decision (if it could be called that) to die rather than return to prison, or stockbrokers who off themselves after a market crash (though, arguably mental illness could still be involved).  Again, I am not an expert or an authority, just someone struggling with severe depression and, yes, suicidal ideations.

What I am talking about is the process that it takes for someone who is mentally ill to decide that the only way to deal with the pain is suicide.  

Because depression HURTS, it is a pain in your very soul, sometimes quiet and sneaky and at other times tearing into you furiously.  Logic has no place in suicidal thoughts, even though this horrible disease will trick us into believing that it is the only logical course. Whether it is to stop the pain, the burden on others, that we don't matter, that the world is better off without us, that we won't make a mark on the world anyway so don't need to exist.

Whilst your final act may not physically hurt, trust me when I say there is a lot of pain involved in the decision and the planning.  It may take months, days, or even hours, that is irrelevant.

There is regret, despair, pain at the thought of losing loved ones, never again seeing the beauty of a sunrise or a newborn baby, to be transported by a piece of music, whatever is important to you.

But depression is an evil bitch, she can take away all perspective, logic, even the ability to care.  For me, I find a quiet, a certain numbness, what I call "The Calm", which arrives before the plan, way before the act.  It can take may days or hours to make the leap to a plan, and that's what scares me.

I can find myself faking happiness, allowing things that piss me off (and regular readers would know they are many and varied) to slide by me, to stop doing the things I enjoy, withdrawing from people...

...I am learning to recognise my signs, the calm, the loss of any emotion (even though I can fake emotion as well as any Hollywood star) and to ask for help before it goes too far.  That said, even with a plan it is not too late to ask for help, there are many organisations ready, willing and able to reach out and hold you up in your time of need.  You can even change your mind after you have started your attempt if you get that far...

You MUST also think of the people who love you, care about you, who would be devastated, damaged forever by your loss. It could be your partner, your kids,parents, friends, the dog, it doesn't matter.  You must also consider those who must deal with the aftermath of your decision, emergency service workers, medical staff, the poor soul unlucky enough to find you or get in your way...

Suicide is not inevitable, it is a choice, but we must recognise that our mental illness is taking away our most precious possession, our life!  And I for one am not prepared to sit there and let that happen to me without a fight... previously stated, whilst I am not in a good place within myself I am safe and have support, am learning the skills i need to deal with depression when she takes hold and won't let go.

NB: I am referring to the disease of "depression" as female as in my humble opinion, the fairer sex can be far more evil, hurtful and vicious than any man.

If you are suffering a mental illness or considering suicide, please talk to someone, your GP,
 call Lifeline on 13 11 44 or go to your local hospital emergency department.

If you are in physical danger please call 000 (Australia only).

Jo xxx

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

In treatment...

Warning: This post contains details regarding mental health and suicide. 
If you are unable to cope with these concepts or would rather not proceed then please don't read on.

The information supplied is from my personal experience and should not replace professional medical advice.

The other day I started a very personal series chronicling my battle with mental illness.  Please refer to it here if you didn't read it yet.

I would like to state that I have never actually attempted suicide, being lucky enough to have a support system in place to help me through, but it was close.  Some would therefore diminish the severity of my illness, this would be a grave mistake.  You have to fight for your life, you cannot hand everything over to others to fix for you, there is no magic pill.  It is hard, tiring, painful and unpleasant to fight this disease, a process I am currently going through.

Today I just wanted to address a few misconceptions I had before entering the mental health ward of a hospital. 

Now you must understand that this is my personal experience, as a voluntary patient in a private hospital.  Whilst I have experienced the local public emergency room in the recent past it was decided at that time that being committed to a locked ward (their option) was not going to be beneficial for me and we made alternative arrangements which did work for a time.  Everyone was kind and professional, there was no sitting in the waiting room, no feeling of stigma, not an experience I want to repeat but not as bad as expected.

Before arriving for admission, I had visions of barred windows, alarms, slamming doors and security guards (imagine Terminator 2).  Of drooling, drugged out, terrifying looking people wandering around randomly waiting for the opportunity to "get me".  To be treated without respect and dignity.

This is the exact opposite of my current experience.  The staff, from the cleaners to the doctors treat you in a friendly, approachable manner.  Don't get me wrong, there are rules and you will get your arse metaphorically kicked if you don't follow them.  But they are common sense, you must get dressed during the day, wear nightwear at night, there is no physical contact with other patients (or the staff, unless strictly necessary), no entering the rooms of others, no passing on of personal details (after all, you don't necessarily want to know these people in "real" life).  We must attend mandatory group sessions, appointments with psychologists and your psychiatrist, you must take your medication, you have to make your own bed, look after your own hygiene etc.  Cleaners with vacuum, empty the bin, clean your sink and the other facilities.  There are laundry facilities if you need to use them.  You are required to eat your meals in the dining room at set meal times, no food in the rooms...a struggle if all you want to do is crawl into a foetal position and cry, but ultimately the best thing for you.

The nurses have seen it all, are onto every trick and often recognise the signs things are going pear shaped before we know it ourselves.  They may not give you what you want, but they will always give you what you need and you have to make the decision to put yourself into their experienced hands for treatment to work.  You might not like it, but you have to trust that they will do their best to help us. 

As I said before though, it is my decision whether I live, and I am fighting to.

There is medication prescribed by your psychiatrist, this is firstly to get you over your initial issues and then to establish an appropriate regime for you to continue at home.  There is always someone to listen to you and do the best they can to meet your needs, but there are a lot of people here, some better, some the same, some far worse and you need to learn patience pretty quickly.

We do have a bit of free time, can use our computers (free WiFi woohoo), watch TV, use our phones, read, craft, go for walks, whatever takes your fancy.  They do need to know where you are and you are not allowed to leave without permission.  There are also recreation facilities, a pool table, music, tv's, computer games, dvd's, board games and books should you wish to use them.

Visiting hours are less than a regular hospital ward, simply due for the need for treatments sessions.  Leave during the week is not strictly permitted but assessed on a case by case basis.  Weekend day leave can be approved by your doctor and even overnight leave if you are preparing to go home.

There is a door on your own room, you can shut it at will.  We have windows looking onto maintained gardens and individual a/c units.  Some lucky bastards get en-suites (as in NOT me) but they are generally reserved for the oldies or those with physical ailments.  I have personalised my room as much as possible, with throws, cushions, my own pillows, pictures and bits and pieces.  It helps to have a retreat that is your "own".

The other patients are normal people, the same as you (and me ;P), we can have a laugh, sometimes a cry, but there is always someone around who knows the ropes and everyone is very kind.  There are the odd dodgy characters who are dispatched "somewhere else" quickly. 

Most of the patients are here for depression and/or anxiety.  Other mental illnesses are generally cared for in a different type of facility.

I have now been here three weeks and am looking down the barrel of possibly another couple, we will see.  At present I am not responding well to treatment and they are re-thinking some of their strategies.  But that's mental illness, it isn't easy, but it doesn't have to be the end.

I hope this has given you a small (well it's bloody long actually) insight into what you might expect should you have to be hospitalised for a mental illness. 

If you are suffering a mental illness or considering suicide, please talk to someone, your GP,
 call Lifeline on 13 11 44 or go to your local hospital emergency department.

If you are in physical danger please call 000 (Australia only).

Jo xxx


"Raindrops keep falling on my head..."

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


God's finger touched him, and he slept.
Alfred Lord Tennyson


Today we buried my Father-in-Law.  The ceremony was simple and dignified

It was a difficult day for the family, but also one of closure.

He was a sports star as a young man, worked for the railways for much of is working life, was a husband and father. 

My enduring memory was his insistence on calling me Josie for all the years I knew him, neither my name or even an abbreviation!  No matter how many times he was told of my name he steadfastly insisted upon it being Josie. 

So today's post is respectfully dedicated to him, for without his existence I would not have my darling husband nor my two sisters-in-law.

           “May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back.     May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”

Friday, 1 June 2012

Friday cop out...

After a horrible night, with three hours sleep and now a major case of the teary misery guts, today's intended post will be left for another day.

I just do not have the emotional strength to make sense.

So instead, here is a picture that appealed to me.

Might even make a nice tattoo...

Jo xxx