Sunday

It has felt like a really big weekend.

I’ve been turning the idea of resilience over and over in my head. My naturopath cited this as my primary issue at our last appointment. “You’re not broken, Karen. You’ve just lost your resilience.” It’s the first time in a really long time any kind of health professional has said something to me that made sense.

I used to be able to go back to back to back with events and appointments and catch-ups all weekend. I just can’t do that anymore. I’m old now, sure, but it’s more than that. I feel like the last 5 years have eaten away at me physically and mentally to the point where I’m like a hollow nest for termites: one well-placed poke and I crumble.

I get overwhelmed easily right now. If someone asks me for even the smallest thing it can make me feel really anxious or tired or both. The idea of facing a weekend with a few different social events can be crippling. My GP says it’s a product of depression, but I don’t think it is. Depression feels (felt?) different to me – it’s like that time of the day when the sun goes down. If you don’t turn the light on, all the colour drains out of everything until there’s darkness. Depression, to me, feels (felt?) like an absence of something. A numbness. This overwhelm and lack of resilience feels like the opposite of that: anything ranging from an unplaceable agitation to a burning hot anxiety.

I’m sure part of the solution is to do what I did on Saturday – if it’s mental overwhelm, to just push through it and mentally rewire myself somehow. But if the overwhelm is physical I need to try and find pockets for myself to rest.

The problem is, though, sometimes I can’t tell which one is which.

Today I am grateful for my bed. I’m praying to the sleep gods for lots of rest tonight, and a peaceful head.

A positive thing about myself today: I feel like every week it’s getting easier to, on a Sunday night, mentally try and set myself up for the week. I used to really dread Monday, but more and more I feel good that every Monday can be like a new start. A way to validate some of what you’re doing, and do better in others. I feel like that is some sort of progress, in no small part because of the work I’ve been putting in.

Today I am stitched, I am sewn

These days I’m not good at crowds.

My anxiety can make large groups of people difficult to navigate. Even small groups of people, if they’re loud enough. I deal with gigs okay because there’s a focus away from the people – as soon as the lights go down and the music starts I mostly forget how many other people are there.

This week I reached out to a friend I haven’t seen in a while to catch up today. She said she was going to the races and asked if I wanted to come. My knee-jerk reaction was a hard no. Apart from the opportunity to catch up with some good people I really couldn’t think of anything I would want to do less.

But I thought about what I had written earlier in the week. About the distance I have between me and a lot of people I currently have in my life. And so I messaged back that I would come.

I negotiated with myself – you can get there a little late, and leave a little early. And I did. And it was fine. And really nice to catch up with them all.

But I am absolutely, 100% exhausted now. Exhausted to the point that I don’t feel well. It might be a combination of boot camp this morning and then being on my feet (and a lot of it in the sun) a lot of the day, but it’s hard to tell. I didn’t drink enough water today, which I know isn’t helping. I’ve tried to make up for it over the last couple of hours and no doubt I will be up peeing all night.

I don’t feel good and I’m going to bed.

Tonight I am grateful that I live in Newtown. I am a little disheartened by the state election today but I am happy I live in my socially liberal bubble in the Inner West.

A positive thing about myself today: see above. I pushed myself to do something I didn’t really want to do, and I’m glad that I did.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

The Journey – Mary Oliver

Tonight I’m grateful for poetry. I finished work a little early today and got an hour of reading in. Mary Oliver is salve for the soul, and this poem in particular resonates hard right now.

A positive thing about me today: I could have slept in this morning but I got up and got straight to work. As a result I got a massive project sent to a client by 11am, and did a stack of admin this afternoon.

That’s how you fight loneliness

I had CPD in the city for half of today.

I always have an element of anxiety walking into the room. Above and beyond, that is, the usual walk-into-the-room anxiety I have.

There’s always a solid chance that an ex-colleague will be there. Given the fairly toxic work environment I used to be in, the very high turnover, and the very senior role I had that involved, hiring, firing and performance management, there’s every chance these people would be hoping just as much I’m not there when they walk in the room.

But today I got lucky. I walked in and one of my most favourite people in the world was there. One of the two colleagues that really helped me through the God-awful last 12 months in that place. She is one of those people that simultaneously grounds you and makes you feel everything is right with the world. It was so lovely to see her.

I need to expand my social circle. A close friend has been in Europe for a few weeks, and with her being gone, I’ve come to realise how few people there really are in my life. Beyond the boy, that is.

When I got sick I kind of folded in on myself – partly through necessity, to preserve myself mentally and physically, and partly because I don’t really need that big a reason to enable my introverted self.

I still like being alone. Being alone isn’t lonely for me. I work from home four days a week now, and I really enjoy being in the house by myself. People ask me if I miss having colleagues and working in an office and the answer is genuinely no.

But I do think sometimes it would be nice to have a group of closer friends I could reach out to on the weekend. And I feel it more acutely when one of my small group of close friends, for whatever reason, isn’t here.

Today I am grateful for the person I saw today. There was one particular day in that job, around 3 weeks before I finally left, that is possibly one of the worst days of my whole life. I got a bad decision on a visa application, and having balanced on a mental health precipice for months, I lost myself and my balance completely. I don’t remember very much about what happened after that. I remember getting up out of my chair and stumbling from my desk to the front of the office just saying, over and over again, ‘No. No. No. No.’ I remember sobbing and not being able to stop. I remember having trouble breathing and having chest pains so bad I couldn’t straighten up. I remember leaving the office and not being sure if I could bring myself to go back.

But I also remember this person being there. She came to find me when she found out what happened and she sat with me, quietly being there, until the earth righted itself and I could think straight. She dealt with the fall out from the Partners and held them at bay for the rest of the day so I didn’t have to speak to them. Since then she is a constant source of wisdom and guidance and has been there every time I’ve needed her.

One positive thing about myself today: I can be very patient. I’ve been coordinating a weekend away with my family for my brother’s birthday, and it’s honestly like herding cats. But I’ve managed to coordinate for everyone to be in the same place on the same weekend (or, at least, I think I have) and so far everyone is still talking to one another.

Is there splendour

I’ve been excited for a little while about the new Hulu series Shrill, staring Aidy Bryant. And not just because Carrie Brownstein directed an episode.

It’s really, really rare to see a plus sized woman front and centre in TV or a movie. Even rarer, one where she’s not made the butt of jokes or is the funny sidekick of the main star.

I’ve seen some trailers and clips from the show. One in particular is Aidy’s character going to a pool party specifically for bigger women. The scene starts with her being really shy and not wanting to dance. But it ends, after the women around her encourage her, with her dancing with palpable, uninhibited joy.

I got a bit emotional when I watched it, which surprised me a bit. So much of my experience as a fat girl is feeling like I don’t have the right to take up the space I do. Feeling like, in social situations, I am at the end of either ridicule or pity.

To see big bodies like that giving themselves permission to be joyful and confident bought up a lot of different feelings.

I hope the show comes to Australia,

Tonight I am grateful for the fact that for half of tomorrow I will be in training. It will be a bit boring but it actually gives me some quiet learning time, which is something I haven’t had for a bit.

A positive thing about myself today: I felt really good in my PT session this morning. Until the last 10 minutes where the ski erg and kettle bell swings near killed me haha. Off the back of not much sleep, I got it done and there was progress. Go me.

It’s a thin line baby

Today felt a little rough.

I didn’t sleep so well last night and had some crazy dreams. Today I woke up with a headache that wouldn’t leave, and my anxiety was not great. Not terrible, but not great.

I’ve been writing these posts at the end of each day. The positive of this is I get a full reflection of the whole 24 hours. I also tend to get a little more pensive at the end of the day. The negative, though, is that the dragging up of stuff can unsettle my brain a bit and mess my sleep up.

When I talk to Wayne about it I call it the ‘busy brains’. I.e. I have a bad case of the busy brains tonight.

Last night my busy brains got the best of me and I’ve been paying for it today. I have PT in the morning and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little apprehensive. But it’s just exercise, right?

On that note, tonight I am grateful for my body that will carry me through my PT session tomorrow. My body that is getting stronger, even with all the bullshit it’s dealing with. This is also going to be my mediation when I wake up in the morning.

A positive thing about me today: I took on a case when I first started with one of my clients that was a bit of a mess and had a really complicated history. I finished submissions today and I feel really good about the prospects of the case now. If there’s a positive outcome for the client it will be because I did a really good job. When I left my last job I had terrible self-confidence. It’s nice to feel like I’m good at my job again.

Out here studying stones

Tonight on the coaching call we were talking about the idea of self-alignment and what it means to be in balance and at peace with yourself.

We talked a bit about the last time I actually felt like that, and having thought on it this week I realised it was circa 2008 or so. I was hanging out with some good people and I had made a few really brave decisions and done some (what felt like) pretty brave things. The result of all this was me feeling pretty good about myself. And feeling like there was really no end to the things I could do with my life.

No shock, I guess, that the last time I felt myself balance up was when I started liking myself. When I started giving myself props for making the brave moves and stepping outside of my comfort zone. Building a life for myself that I felt I could be proud of.

What’s different now, though? Because something’s different. It feels like there’s something huge I’m pushing against and can’t push through.

It can’t be the doing-the-brave-things thing. I have made some legitimate and pretty fucking big and brave moves over the last 12 months. And I was brave at a time when my anxiety was at my worst and even leaving the house felt terrifying. And I feel like in smaller ways I’m still doing the brave things. So it can’t be that.

It can’t be my weight. At that time I was very overweight. Heavier than I am now, even. And not really happy about it, sure. But also not wrapping my whole persona within the physical package of myself. Understanding that my worth was not my physical vessel. So whatever is blocking me now that wasn’t blocking me then can’t be that.

I have less people in my life now. Close people, that is. When I got sick, there were a lot of people in my life who kind of dropped away. And it’s understandable, right? You cancel enough social engagements, not RSVP to enough parties, and avoid social media long enough and people just sort of forget you’re there. I’m not bitter about it. It just is what it is. I have less people in my life day to day now.

My health is different now. I have a lot more challenges. Some days I am better than others at convincing myself they’re not insurmountable. I think this is probably at least part of the problem.

I actually think, when I really drill down to it, a lot of what is blocking me mentally right now will be what happened when I got sick. Like the fact that I even write it that way – ‘when I got sick’. Not ‘when I got cancer’. Because cancer is such a loaded word, right? Why does it make me so uncomfortable to even type it? That’s probably something to think about.

I mentioned on Saturday morning, when we were discussing this stuff, that sometimes, regardless of how good and wholesome your intentions are when you set out, doing the work past a certain point can be difficult. In my case, when I set out to start processing a lot of this stuff a couple of years ago, I realised pretty quickly how much work there was to do. How dark it was all going to get before it got light again. And that’s pretty scary, no? Knowing how far down you’re going to have to go before you can work up again. It’s human nature to want to just stop and go…

Nah, I’m good.

But I’m not good. At least, not as good as I know I can be. And so I guess the thing is to start digging, knowing how deep the hole will get, because you’ve got to start somewhere.

Tonight I am grateful for the online group, and for this accountability challenge. I think it came at the time that I needed it most.

One positive thing about myself today: I actually got out my physio roller and used it after my walk this morning. I really need to do that more.

Sunday

It’s 9:20pm and I’ve left it too late to write tonight. My brain started shutting down half an hour ago.

But here I am, because #accountabilitychallenge.

I am loving this colder weather. The rain has also been kinda nice, although I had to basically wade from the car to the gym and back to the car this morning.

I did a spin class this morning and actually enjoyed it a lot. My energy levels have been really low this weekend and my lungs have not felt great but it felt good to be in a dark room with loud music with a group of people all sweating physically pushing themselves.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened in Christchurch. I have Very Strong Feelings about it. I wrote a piece a few months ago for a scholarship application about racism in Australia and I feel like everything I wrote has been borne out in real time. I’ve had to get off Twitter today and stop watching CNN because it’s easy to be obsessive about it and dig yourself into a hole of outrage and despair.

Tonight I am grateful for books. I just finished a really good one (Normal People by Sally Rooney, if you’re after a recommendation), and I’ve started Leigh Sales’ new book. Books, for me, are a place of comfort and safety. A place to always go back to.

A positive thing about myself today: I’m going grey (like, a little bit, and it’s not that noticeable because of the colour of my hair), but I actually don’t mind that much. It might be different when it becomes really obvious but right now I feel like it’s not a terrible thing.

When there’s nothing left to burn

I was noodling around on the laptop this afternoon (googling ‘how big do spiders need to be before they can bite you’), when my mobile rang.

“I was speaking to (ex-boss) today and she said you’d left. I had no idea you might be available. We’d love to have you come work with us. Full time, part time, contract – whatever you want.”

This made me feel good for a few reasons.

The first is the obvious ego-boost I got from hearing how much they want me to come work with them. Like, a lot.

The second is the fact that I realised, pretty quick, that I’m okay actually. I’m not looking right now. I appreciate the opportunity, but I’m happy where I am.

Sometimes it takes a picture of the grass on the other side of the fence for you to realise you’re actually in a pretty good pasture.

And thirdly, because regardless of how things ended up at my last job, they’re saying nice things about me. I mean, they should. But you never really know in this world. I wasn’t expecting that to be a relief but it was.

I read this ABC News article last week. It rang so true that I said the word ‘YES’ out loud more than once while I was reading it.

I stayed way too long in my last job. Like, 3 years too long. I poured every ounce of myself into that business like it was mine. I was under the false impression, mainly because they kept saying it out loud, that we were more than just a workplace. ‘We’re like family’. I think that’s a fairly common experience.

But at the end of the day the employer/employee relationship is transactional. I gave them my time and they gave me money in return. Only, in the end it wasn’t just my time. It was my health – mental and physical – also.

I earn less money now. But, I work a whole lot less hours. I get to work the hours I want, and I get to do the majority of them from home. I wouldn’t trade that right now for anything.

Today I am grateful for the cooler weather. I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I honestly can’t wait for the cold.

One positive thing about myself today – I struggled a bit at boot camp this morning, but I don’t feel like I gave in to it mentally. Some days are better than others right now with the energy levels and the dizziness, and today I woke up a bit rough. But I got through it and I didn’t let those ‘everyone else is fitter than me’ thoughts creep in. I felt good about that.

Friday

Around a week ago I noticed a dark grey spot the size of a 10 cent piece on the architrave above the window in our bedroom. I kept making a mental note to look at it properly and remove it, and I just haven’t got there this week.

Tonight, though, when I looked at it I noticed it had changed shape.

On closer inspection I’ve realised it’s not dirt, or fluff, or mould from the rain.

It’s a nest of teeny, tiny spiders. Hundreds and hundreds of them.

And now I’m not sure what to do. Do I leave them there and never sleep again? Or do I kill them and feel the weight of ending hundreds of tiny spidery lives?

I don’t think they’re going anywhere tonight. I’m going to sleep on it.

I got a text message yesterday from my ex-boss. The job I left around 8 months ago. When the notification popped up on my phone I had a violent negative reaction. One that surprised me a lot actually. I know I have negative feelings about that workplace and what happened there, but I thought I had moved on from a lot of it.

I’m a lot happier now. I am really happy with my work situation (for now). I am bigger and better than all of them.

And yet, one text message and I am back in those feelings. I felt physically sick and it took a good hour to shake it.

She had had a dream about me. Is that weird? Weird that she dreamt it, and also weird that she told me about it? I feel like she might also have some leftover feelings about my time there. If the energy in the world works in the way it should, she should have some residual feelings about it too.

And has hopefully learned as much from it as I have.

Today I am grateful for Fridays. I don’t hang out for them anywhere near as much as I used to (by necessity), but I still look forward to them.

A positive thing about myself today: I am a really good dog mum. I might have been a really good people mum too, but that definitely was never on the cards haha. My dogs love me. I do a good job providing everything that they need. And I have turned a little, terrified dog into a loving (although still very nervous) pupper.