Swings and roller coasters …

Yesterday was my birthday. I’m now (mumbletysomething) years old. And I’m grateful. There were times when I didn’t think I’d reach anywhere near half the age I am now, or thirty, or forty, let alone pass fifty. There have been bad moments. Bad days. Bad years, even. There have been weeks where I haven’t seen the sun, haven’t wanted to get out of bed, haven’t looked after myself.

And those times could come again.

I live with brittle bipolar disorder. Which means I get the usual highs and lows of bipolar disorder – but I get them hard, and fast. Imagine being on one of those deranged, loop-the-loop, high adrenaline roller coasters at a theme park, when you’d rather be on the kid’s level roller coaster, gently trundling up and down. I’d love that, just… that’s not how it works for me.

It’s managed. Mostly. I get a lot of help. I was very late in getting a diagnosis. And my life probably would have looked different if I’d known sooner, but hey – here we are. Another year older. I tend to stay quiet on my birthdays because I miss people who haven’t made it this far. So, apart from a little photographic silliness, I had a quiet day – read a little, binge watched some stuff, listened to some podcasts.

Today I managed a little more – while Ms Emmalumpdogg was out for her walk with her Daddy, I dragged out the vacuum and got the worst of the front room done, went back through the lounge room and kitchen, at least at floor level. (It’s best to vacuum while Emm is out, because she’s still convinced the vacuum is The Enemy. She has become reconciled to the necessity of brooms and dustpans, but I don’t think we’re ever going to win the vacuum war).

Then later I got some more exercise (it all counts) using the pear corer so I could make pear crumble for pudding. We were lucky enough to get a big bag of Packham pears on sale so we’ve been eating them up, but they’re much better cooked. My arms are very weak (actually, all of me is very weak, I have wasted muscles as a result of anorexia and that’s one of those things I need to work on – it’s not just psychological recovery, it’s long term physical recovery as well) and I get tired and injured so easily.

I was looking back at some photos earlier tonight, comparing how I used to look to how I look now. And I really prefer the way I used to look. Not just the longer, natural hair (I miss that, too) but the face shape, the healthier look. I feel like my new face belongs to someone else, not me. I want my proper face back. Hair that doesn’t break. Muscles that don’t scream when I try to do something simple like close a window. I want to want to eat. Some days… are easier than others in that.

Sometime after April 2018
April 2020

There’s probably… 15+ kg difference between those photos? Could be more. I wasn’t in the habit of weighing myself before (and I’m only allowed to weigh myself once a week now) so I couldn’t say for sure. I’m working towards an initial goal weight but so far I can’t get back up there. I’ve been stable for a few weeks now, so at least that’s one roller coaster I’ve stepped off, even if it’s just for a while.

I’m tired. Enough of the roller coasters for now.

Enjoy the ride. Walk in the sun (a socially safe distance apart). And wash your hands!

Love,

Caity

Breaking out, briefly

So today I got to leave the house for a while! I wouldn’t have even considered it but my throat was much, much better – just rough because of the huge amount of smoke in the air, coming from vegetation fires thirty-ish miles out from where we are:

And I promise that we left the house for essentials. Yes, bread, milk, pharmacy items – but also we went to Officeworks. Because now that we’ve all been told to stay at home as much as possible (at least, that was the last news I read, I haven’t read any since this morning, I don’t want to know if it’s a level worse than that) I am working through the book I bought for my birthday:

Lynda Barry’s “Making Comics” (see some great extra pages at the link below) https://www.drawnandquarterly.com/blog/2019/11/lynda-barrys-making-comics

So, Mr Prime Minister, (or anyone else, for that matter) – we did it safely. We stood 1.5 metres apart from everyone else. We stood behind the marked lines at the registers. We used a tap and go card, not a pin. We washed our hands immediately on coming back into the house.

But I will FIGHT YOU FOR MY BOX OF 24 CRAYONS AND MY 8 DRAWING PENS AND MY 200 INDEX CARDS, oh yes I will.

I’m serious. These, as much as my brain chemical medications, are essential supplies. It’s already tough going, finding routine, staving off the loneliness, finding motivation, without the usual external drivers.

And for those of us who already spent a lot of time on our own, and only got out for say, groceries or medical appointments, and now don’t even have those outlets ?

From the awesome Dorothy Gambrell, artist of Cat and Girl http://catandgirl.com/

It’s going to be tough unless we can find a new way to live. I’m going to use up my phone calls I usually let go unused. I’m going to try video calls with people who might not have done that before. I’m going to try and get a bit of housework done (within my abilities, if I overdo things I end up having to have a recovery day or two and the last thing I want is a depression spiral during self isolation.)

How about you? Any plans for different activities? Are you baking? Doing different exercises? Sorting through those books you’ve been meaning to get to? Sewing?

Take care of yourselves and each other. This isn’t the end of the world, it’s just… different. And wash your hands.

Love,

Caity

Do not adjust your sets…

This is your new reality.

Self isolating…

As of thirty or so minutes ago as I’m writing this, (according to the ABC news site live blog on Coronavirus, the PM had this to say:

Stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary you go out’

The PM says people should only go out for the “basics, going out for exercise, perhaps with your partner or family members provided it’s a small group, that’s fine”.  But people should not go out and “participate more broadly in the community unless you’re shopping for basics or there are medical needs or you’re providing care and support to an individual at another place”.  “Going to work [is permitted] … where you can, work from home. That is encouraged.” 

So that’s tonight. Beauty salons are closing from tomorrow night and I am going to make what may seem like a shallow and frivolous comment: that will have an impact on my mental health.

Before my appointment…
After my appointment.

Ok. These two images might not seem all that different to most people, but I hadn’t had my eyebrows shaped or dyed since October, nor had I had my eyelashes tinted since then. And since I can’t wear mascara because a) I can’t see to put it on, and b) I have to put in eyedrops a minimum of eight times a day and be very careful of my eye health due to Sjögrens Syndrome, having these two little luxuries taken care of for the first time in months made me feel so happy.

And now they’re gone again. Yeah, boo hoo, small problem, right? Except it’s the small problems that add up in the mental health burden.

So even though the lovely ladies at Plush Skin Body & Beauty are being forced to close from tomorrow night, (and I didn’t know that earlier today), I was still stuck at home with a sore throat and didn’t want to risk Jess or Melitta catching it. So I had a phone consultation, and… ta dah! Melitta even delivered. It was like getting a present. (Mr Beloved went to the gate, I’m staying clear until I’m sure this throat is ok.)

My skin care order, with extra care and goodies….

How do we look after not only ourselves but our small businesses in a time of plague? I’m not dismissing the seriousness of this disease. I have family members who are particularly vulnerable. When it comes to it, we all do, because this novel coronavirus is killing young people, too, just like last year’s flu did. (But make no mistake, Covid-19 is way nastier than the flu).

But with the government closing more and more businesses and facilities, mental health in the general population is going to be a concern. I’m not a mental health expert – except as someone who has experienced mental health issues for many years. From my point of view, watching as demand has always outstripped supply, despairing as promised programs were cut instead, often struggling to get (and keep) appropriate access to mental health professionals: we, as a country in social isolation, are going to need mental health assistance.

“There will be greater access to telehealth!”, the government tell us. Really? While that might work for some things, there are other health appointments that telehealth is not going to be so great at managing.

Uncertain times.

Scary times.

Time to drink my hot milk and listen to a podcast and maybe fall asleep.

Goodnight, if anyone is reading.

And remember- practice random acts of kindness, take care of yourselves and others, and wash your hands.

Love,

Caity

Just this tonight…

I spent way too long online this morning trying to buy some simple art supplies. And I couldn’t. And I missed my mental health appointment because I couldn’t go in, since I had a temperature and a sore throat, which is also why I was trying to shop online instead of just going to the store.

Tomorrow is another day.