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Wednesday, 27 August 2014


Change use to be my bag. I used to thrive on it. It was exciting and imbued with endless possibilities. It probably started from my childhood, we moved every couple of years when I was a kid, we used to buy or build and then we'd move. Most of the houses – something like seventeen – were in Ferny Grove. The furthest we went, apart from a few years at McDowell before there was even a roundabout (oh that horrendous roundabout) was Toowoomba for six months, well that was a weird trek into a parallel universe. They put all the new kids (including my little sister Rhiannon who was in grade one, I was in grade three) in the new class room with the new teacher. We were segregated from the Toowoomba kids.

One bonus was I did year five work and she did year three work. But it was a strange place for us – no offence to those of you that come from there it's a beautiful country town but it's not so welcoming for newcomers, or at least it wasn't – so we moved back to our old stomping ground.

And I went to Ferny Grove pre-school, Primary School and High School. But we continued the tradition of moving house frequently. And I liked it. Then when I started working as soon as was legal, fourteen and three quarters I got jobs, starting at the horridly unprofessional Snow Deli at Brookside where they were incredibly unhygenic and frequently shorted me or overpaid me. Stupidly I was honest and would tell them (they would make me work it off, rather than taking the over-payment back, keeping in mind in those days it was cash in an envelope pay), then when they under paid me I'd have to get my Mum in to argue with them and look through their books to prove they'd fucked up. I was already smarter then their manager at fourteen. So it inspired a series of jobs, and at one stage I worked three. Full time at Mountain Designs head office Monday to Friday, Thursday night and Saturday at Woolworths Stafford Deli and Friday nights and Sundays at the Ferny Grove Bowls Club. Plus when I could the private boxes at the football – union or league – as the bar attendant serving lovely plumbers and tradies or asshat lawyers and barristers who were always the most problematic.

I then moved into temp work and loved that too, it fulfilled my need for change and my love of meeting people and I was very comfortable with learning new things I was intelligent enough that I quickly adapted to new environments and became friends with staff. I became a favourite of many companies because of my ability to seamlessly transition into their teams.

Then I worked the longest period I ever worked anywhere – four years at Education Queensland – and ironically had just started a job with the Human Resources Rehabilitation Unit as an Executive Assistant when I got sick, very, very sick. And I tried to return to work, but I kept falling asleep and falling over. And I was young and I was naïve. A woman I used to work with saw immediately what I had, she told me her brother was sick just like me. He had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. And pretty quickly I was diagnosed with it. Thankfully because that doctor saved my life. I lost my job because I was a casual, which isn't right and wasn't right. My old boss and dear friend went to bat for me. I should never have been casual. They should have made me a permanent employee by then. But the new director of HR had in for me. She really didn't like me and frankly in retrospect I didn't give her much reason to. I was too sick to work, and yet I would go out drinking. I did it because after spending six months as a saint doing everything right, eating barely anything, restricting my diet, resting and working barely existing, I didn't get any better. And when I drank it gave me false energy and for that time I felt normal. I was such a gregarious and outgoing creature. I had worked full time, played netball up to seven days a week, spent lunches with friends every day and always had weekends full of plans. Then bam, nothing. Four walls, revolting food, endless torture and no escape. So I drank. And she heard about it amongst other things I did that were not indicative of a sick person. But I was a kid. And I had lost my world to a torturous illness. I couldn't deal. I sent out mixed messages and I confused people.

Anyway.... that's that. So this incredibly gregarious, outgoing, young woman with extensive and varied social circles was suddenly slammed shut into a box back when the internet was a major luxury and people just didn't really call you. I lost myself. I self sabotaged. And then I would be good and nothing would improve, giving me no incentive not to find at least some happiness in company while drinking instead of the stark isolation I had been locked into. It was and is the most soul destroying and hope crushing world to be trapped in.

It has changed me. I am not who I was. I used to have parties to celebrate my birthdays, populated by seventy or more very close friends and they were legitimately close friends.  I was very good at maintaining friendships. Now the limit is no more than two to three people – talking very softly one at a time – or I go into the foetal position shaking and sobbing hysterically because it feels as though my head is being stabbed repeatedly by knives. I lost the ability to maintain friendships with people I had known and loved my whole life, because I couldn't even look after myself. They thought we just grew apart when really they just grew away from me and I never saw them again. They stopped reaching out. And although I still felt exactly the same adoration about them, I simply could not reach out. I became invisible, translucent and weightless. A non entity.

So time stopped then for me. Every thing since has been grey with occasional slashes of colour. Garish reds or the very rare dash of blue with beautiful dots of sunshiny golden yellow.

Now I am me. A shell of she. I shiver and shake at the idea of change. I get overwhelmed with the thought of it all. I used to thrive on it. I loved it. Now it is so complicated. My parents are poor age pensioners. They are my carers. And they're both sick. I am a disability pensioner and I cannot even get myself in or out of bed alone any more. We suddenly have to move house. And it's not like the adventures of my youth, I am a cowering mess. There is still a steel will but it is weakened and cracked.

On the weekend my sister Rhiannon and my friend Fiona came to help pack and I barely helped, I could do much except direct really. And yet by dusk I was projectile vomiting, with gastro, clammy with chest pains and unable to walk, my head exploding with a mitochondrial migraine.

Change. We have to move after just under two years and I'm not even fully unpacked. The house we loved just fell through. We don't have bond. We can't afford movers. We have nowhere to go. We can't afford double rent in case we do find the right place (dual living, hi-set, pet friendly) too early. The owners are likely to be asshats and refuse release our bond even though we've done everything right,  They're simply that way. The roof leaks, the lights short out, there's no insulation so we have ridiculous electricity bills because I cannot moderate my body temperature (they promised to drop the rent as we pay way over market price  due to the urgency of finding a house to move into, and predictably they then reneged their offer), there were no curtains or rods … I had to do everything to adjust this house to make it safe for me and now we have to move. And I can't work out the how of it.

We will. I will. I'll find that girl I used to be and wrench her out and try to make use of her for the small things. I can't do the big things. I'm too busy trying not to die. But I can summon her up for the little things. The bond loan. A charity loan. Commandeering volunteers. Something.

Please just pray for me, send me good vibes, meditate on good health and a beautiful change, do whatever you can to send out love into the universe for me and my parents. Because we've been through enough. And it shouldn't be so hard all the time. I need a break from the torture.

Help me wrench her from the shell. Help me please? Help us. We need it.

And thank you. For being in my life For hearing and seeing me. For loving me. For your unconditional unwavering friendships – especially those forged online in sickness, in the dark – you are the best of me. And I love you all xxx

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Tiny human in the mist

Little by little it crept up on me. I feel as vulnerable as an innocent tiny human lost in the forest as the the light of day fades out and a dark and menacing mist curls its way towards me around the trees, enveloping the trunks at eye height. The mist is primeval, it radiates an intense and threatening presence and I feel myself panicked, my little heart beating like a bird fluttering uselessly entrapped in a too small cage, the bars painfully catching its wings.

Stuck in my throat is an aching lump. Droplets dwell in my tear ducts at the ready, as though all they need is to hear their marching orders, “Get in formation. March down her face. No that's not enough, run, gush like a waterfall, drench that face.”

My heart physically hurts. It feels engorged, overloaded with the injustice, loss and terror. The noise of the world feel like painful barbs, blows to my body and my brain, the light feels like the sun has moved closer to earth and burns my retina with the slightest sliver of yellow that stripes my floor if the curtain parts. My brain hurts, my skull feels tight around my head, the skin taut and pinched. The mist has overtaken the defenceless tiny human that lives inside me. She is trapped, like an ancient faerie tale, in a twisted land, dark, cold and alone and waiting for someone to save her.

But nobody comes. Nobody has heard her cries. Maybe not even me. I have steeled myself against her angst and terror filled psyche. Allowing myself only to pay attention to the now. This very moment. Because it's the only way I know how to get through. And yet something has broken, perhaps she broke through the mist I don't know, but now I hear her and she's been tugging on my heart, wrenching at my gut, choking my throat and welling my eyes up just trying to get me to listen to her and speak her truth.

She is me. The part of me that I don't let out because it feels like letting go to her will be impossible to recover from. I am terrified. Every day my life worsens and I don't know how to sustain the courage to keep facing the next moment, let alone tomorrow. I do not want you to think that I am going anywhere. I will not leave. But I cannot quiet the inner voice of the wise tiny human who lives in all of us. She is unfiltered and unwilling or too naïve to participate in pretence.

Sunday night I was so incredibly ill I thought I might die. And I know the difference between dying and feeling deathly, I've had my flirtations with death, the real ones, so I can differentiate. I have had a migraine for weeks, months even, but this was different. This was like my head was going to come off. And I had a vomiting and gastro bug picked up from a friend who had visited her friend in hospital – I should have thought, should have realised – never again post hospital visits. Then (and warning boys or the squeamish you may want to skip to the next paragraph now) I had my period. But not in the normal sense, this was previously a fortnightly visit that had not come to visit for months and it was doing a hell of a lot of catching up. It was all dark and all clots and all excruciating. Even the slightest loss of blood for me is dangerously weakening, this together with everything else and I had my perfect storm. Then I got chest pains like I've never experienced before. Intense and wrong. I felt wrong. So not right. So far removed from okay.

The paramedics came and in the dark comedy that is my life, my cat Tobey escaped for an adventure so Ma and my Dad were running around the cul-de-sac at three am attempting to herd him back into the house. Meanwhile the paramedics entered the house without noticing the prominent sign warning NO PERFUME. And Jock – the Northern Irishman, oh the irony – had been marinating in cheap cologne for three days. So he nearly killed, an already nearly dead me with his enormous cloud of neuro toxins. I had a massive seizure, got paralysed and followed it up with a sterling finish of an asthma attack.

Since it's Ekka time, the hospital was filled to the brim with the fluey, infectious and gunky sick people. I couldn't risk it. So I allowed my tear ducts to give the order and and my face was wet with streamed tears at the ridiculousness of the situation. Me, people like me, we need help the most. And yet I cannot get it. Thank you government. Thank you health system. You just may kill me yet.

Rochelle, the exceptionally kind paramedic who had thankfully refrained from marinating in her own perfume bath, told me I was the sickest and funniest patient she'd ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Ma and I had giggled our way to and from the toilet while I drooped about like a wilted flower on the walker, unable to control my muscles or limbs and she unable to control the walker.

Maybe it's Robin Williams death that has the tiny human in me yelling so loudly. We're not so different me and him. As far as human beings go. I hide my pain behind a layer of humour. He did the same. But I'm tired.

And interspersed between the dark had been moments of laughter and lightness, but like dashes that conjoin and become an unbroken line, the darkness has stitched itself together and the mist is merciless. So I think I will just stop fighting for today, and we will go to sleep under the mist, pull it over our heads like a blanket, rest on the forest floor and let the world work out its shit. I've got enough to deal with. But if you happen to hear my inner tiny human's cries, please don't ignore her. She was very brave to fight her way out.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

To be sure, to be sure

You know I'm turning Japanese, I'm turning Japanese I really think so.... except I'm not. I'm turning Irish. Northern to be specific. Or at least I sound that way.

*Please see note at the bottom before playing these files

But the weirdest thing is. Besides being Australian. Is that it comes and goes. It's called transient Foreign Accent Syndrome. And it's been with me about a week. Even now in my head I sound Irish. I could type how I would speak, but it's strange because it's not how I speak. And it's this strange tug of war in my head. I imagine what it is to be bilingual and whether it's like that. Except of course they're both English languages. Still the idioms (I actually really want to write idiosms there but apparently that's the bastard love child of two words my brain mated – idioms and idiosyncrasy), the linguistics and the rhythms and patterns of speech are different.

So let's just try letting the Irish woman take over.

This mornin when I woke I had focking mad pain all over and me eyelids were so focking 'eavy that I could barely see out them. Then me Ma'am showered me – well she hosed me – an' I musta passed out at least seven times. It's not been a good'un. I have the sorest focking head and to make it all the better, me brain decided I was a bull and the wall was one of those nancy pants bull fighters with their stupid red hankies and I ran full speed at it so hard I think I came close to breaking my focking cheek bone. You can guess who won. Now me 'ead feels like it's wriggled loose off me neck like a bobble head. And me cheek feels like it's still focking corked. It hurts like a mother focker.

Alright I have to stop that now or I will more likely get stuck there and it's so painful for my mouth and jaw to make those noises and shapes so differently to my normal speech patterns (I actually have for the last few years had to speak out loud when I type or I forget what I am saying).

It's torture. And slightly scary. It was funny. But it's not funny any more. Because it's not budging. I can be talking normally and then I drift into this other accent and it gets thicker by the minute. And it sticks for hours. Plus there is no way in any version of reality I could actually do ANY accent with any proficiency without sounding ridiculous. But this is not just passable. It's proper. Except for one dent in the Northern Irish woman.... apparently I should say shite and I just say shit with the accent. Otherwise it's been pretty flawlessly Dubliner or Belfastian apparently, a friend of a friend from Northern Ireland said, and I quote, “Sounds more inner city Dublin or maybe country northern Ireland or even Belfast.”

I guess I'll just leave it at that. I haven't got any great insightful things to say about it. My brain is hurting so intensely just from the circus that it's already coping with. Like I wasn't a bloody weirdy weird pants enough, we had to add another symptom to the mix. And a rare one at that.

I do know one thing. From my brief time studying a creative writing degree before I pushed myself into this very relapse, I was told by several tutors and lecturers that I have a good ear for dialogue. I can easily imagine myself as a character and write in their voice. And I actually dream from all perspectives. I dream as various characters in my dreams through their eyes, man, woman, child.

But this is taking having a good ear to a whole different level. And frankly, despite my love of the Irish people, I would rather like to just be little ole' me.

By the way before I go, I can't leave this unsaid.  Me Ma just asked me if I was putting this on YouTube or booger.  You read that right.  Booger.  You wonder where I get my bloody weirdy weird pants from.

*Note: The audio files I've added are not PG. I swear. More than normal. Although if you haven't spoken to me you wouldn't necessarily know I swear like a sailor. I have temporal lobe damage and no filter. Add in that the Irish are free and expressive with their swear pants, well let's just say I would listen to it through ear phones if tiny humans are nearby.

Note 2: Please do not take the piss out of me. I can't take it right now. I do know most people find this hilarious. And I get it. It's funny. But you must understand it's also slightly terrifying for me. The suspected causes for this type of thing can be a stroke, lesions or tumours. That is obviously the worst of it, there's likely very benign reasons this happening also. But still. I'm too fragile for ribbing at the moment. Save up your witty one liners for when I am back to normal okay? Then we can enjoy them together.