Thursday, September 8, 2011

What is OK, anyway?

With R U OK Day just around the corner the blogosphere is exploding with posts about mental illness. I was approached to blog and tweet the Perth launch thanks to the ever wonderful Madam Bipolar passing on my details to people in the right places, and such is my ability to over commit, I said yes... but before that, I wasn't planning on writing anything. But now I feel obliged to share at least something...

I have resisted writing anything so far because it makes me uneasy. Words and images spiral around my head a thousand times making me dizzy. My chest tightens, my vision blurs, my stomach churns and my hands go numb. Do you know how hard it is to type with numb hands?

See, things have not been so good lately, and I am most definitely not OK. There are a number of factors, but the cumulative effects of a year of stress: watching my precious Tricky have two lots of surgery, my Dad having major open heart surgery (that has fixed only one of his heart problems) and seeing my grandfather get sick and watching him die a few weeks ago have contributed. That's three of the four major male players in my life. I tell Map Guy he should watch his back, he's the only one who has been fine. So last week, after two years drug free, I started taking medication again.




Surely, someone like me, who has spoken, albeit briefly and not in any detail, about having a mental illness, would be jumping on the bandwagon straight away, right? Sharing my tales of woe and recurrent hospitalizations and then the subsequent triumph, the survival. Beating my drum about how the stigma of mental illness needs to be torn down brick by brick with great celebration. Quite possibly even involving David Hasslehoff singing on the sidelines. But I just can't.

I applaud those who have been courageous enough to share their stories, but I must confess I have trouble reading them. Their words bring it all back for me so vividly I can taste the desperation that was my constant bed fellow for so long.

The brain is a funny thing, you see. Especially in someone as broken as I am.

One of my peculiar quirks is the inability to have any sort of closure. Every emotion for every significant event is just under the surface, despite years and years of therapy to try and "get over" things, it all remains there, waiting, just below the surface.

For me, talking about any of my trauma is like picking a fresh scab. The moment I think about it, the mouth of the wound will yawn open and fresh blood will pour out. There is no toughened scar tissue yet, and unless you count my Red Hot Chilli Peppers CD, there probably never will be.

My story, even though the biggest, scariest chapters are a few years old, is still too fresh. The wounds too raw... and, they will always be that way.

So no, I'm not OK, and I never will be... and that's OK (but what is OK anyway?). Don't feel sorry for me, I have accepted that this is what my life is. Therapy, medication and having to be constantly vigilant for triggers. Sometimes I succeed at this, sometimes I don't.

I hypocritically encourage you to share your stories though, ask R U OK? and to answer honestly when someone asks it of you, even though I can't.

R U OK?

If you're experiencing a mental health crisis at the moment
contact Lifeline on 13 11 14

84 comments:

  1. Just love and so much love for you my friend.xxx

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  2. Good on you Glowless. Not everyone can pour out their heart about their problems. And that is okay. 

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  3. This is a brave post. I don't often comment but I think you are rather brilliant. Wishing you some peace x

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  4. Not everyone is a comment tart/drama queen like me. If you can't do the live blogging, don't push yourself, please. There is no obligation to do anything.
    Fark what a year you have had. No wonder you are feeling raw at the moment. However, one good thing is your post will probably help more people than you realise.
    I share your inability to get over things. I spend all day castigating myself for things I have done and said in the past.
    Just being Glow is enough for me. Please don't do the launch unless it is okay for you.
    xxx

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  5. It is never easy to bare all. I cannot imagine how some people survive these 'things' , thank you for sharing your story Glowless and spreading the word are RU ok Day. I hope your medication helps right things for you. I know it can't fix but at least keep you away from the edge.

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  6. This is probably the bravest and best post I have ever read about Mental Health.

    All the best Glowless and take care of yourself.

    xx

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  7. I am tempted to tell you, with the perspective of 43 years under my belt, that you will be OK, one day.  One day you will have experienced enough, learnt enough, thought enough, cried enough, that you will realise that you really are OK.  

    But I am no prophet.  I don't know that you will be able to achieve that.  I would like to think and hope that you will.  I am no guru, but I believe that there comes a point, it did for me, when you realise that not being OK, is not OK.  That there must be a better way.  

    And, even then, when I think that I have the skills to be OK and know that it is achievable, there are days, like today, when I am not OK.  And I don't know what to do.

    I'm sorry that you don't feel that you will ever be OK.  I hope that one day you will be.

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  8. I think it will be good to get outside my own head, focus on others & share the event :) Very grateful for the opportunity, my lovely xxxxxxxxx

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  9. Well that was difficult to read through tears :/ ..........Not feeling sorry for you I promise, but my heart aches a little for you xo

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  10. Hey lady, your life, your blog, share what you want or don't. i agree...some walls are orright! but this actually, was a very neat insight into life inside a 'not ok' head. Thanks lady, xx

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  11. Great post. You're a wonderful person regardless of ok status :)

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  12. Bravo to you for talking about this. I have, in the past, discussed aspects of my depression, etc., and kind of waver on how much is "too much". One reason I have talked about it recently, but it may be something to consider...

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  13. Bravo to you for sharing, I know it can be a tough decision to make. I too wrestled with admitting to a desperate time in my life on a blog post earlier this week.  I hate feeling exposed for criticism or berating myself for not being able to cope. And writing it unleashed many awful emotions. Days later I feel slightly relieved from caring that unspoken burden in my brain.  I hope the same befalls you - sounds like you could do with a win after such a harrowing few months xx

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  14. I don't think we can ever "get over" these things, just accept that they were and try and learn from them or educate others- which you just did by posting today. xx love ya glow

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  15. Lina@MothersLoveLettersSeptember 8, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    Hi G. I was typing up a blog post last night, about coming to Australia as a refugee, and reflecting why I'm not this out and proud refugee advocate. I understand what you mean. I couldn't finish the blog post. It's still sitting in draft form, waiting to be published when the time's right.

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  16. Hey. Glowy. Nobody is ever truly broken. That's what I believe, anyway. I also think that when we stray from honestly being our true selves (terrifying and ugly as that may be to perceive) is when the wheels start to fall off. Well... that's been my experience, anyway, with my wavering and questionable mental health over the years. 

    So... simply, Solidarity x You do what you gotta do to feel comfortable in your own skin. I get it. Mucho love to you (and those exceptional men in your life)

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  17. I can appreciate bring constantly on the look out for triggers. I do the same thing. Hugs sweetheart. I admire you for what you managed to say. That you have gotten help. X

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  18. I keep typing a comment and find myself hitting the 'delete' button because I can't frame my words properly. But, yes, sometimes things are too raw and are triggers. And I like the question you ask about what is ok anyway? Seriously what is ok?
    And you're an amazing woman x

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  19. I just want to send you hugs and love.  Let things sit where you want them to.  Release it when you feel good and ready (if ever).  Just be assured that you have those always ready to listen to whatever you have to say and armed with the steadfast support you need xxx

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  20. You certainly have had a lot to endure of late, Glowless. Take care of yourself, hey. You have two gorgeous men under your roof who love you to bits. xx

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  21. What would I do without my Mummy Bloggers? You guys are my tribe xxx

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  22. Thanks Kellie. I try to focus on them because I'm rather prone to just focusing on myself and losing perspective.

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  23. I think for some OK would only be having everything under control and being happy, while for others, OK would be just being alive. I think my OK is somewhere in the middle :)
    Thanks, Sarah x

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  24. You know, I don't even know who I am to be able to stray from it!  But I get what you're saying :) xxx

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  25. Let it sit in your drafts and mature like a fine wine, Lina. I think what stops me from being an advocate for mental health issues is that I'm afraid of it defining who I am. I was "that crazy girl" for so so long, and now that I'm so much better I don't want to go back there. I want to just be Glow.

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  26. I was so glad you shared your post. That urge to run is familiar for so many people and reading about it and not feeling like the only one is reassuring.

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  27. It's on the internet, it's forever, and I wonder how much is too much for that very reason.

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  28. The 'Not OK' head, when behaving, is a rather cool place to be... when not behaving, well, yeah, no go zone.

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  29. Thanks, Rochelle. I have so many positives in my life, I wouldn't have been able to see them not so long ago, but I can now so it makes it easier.

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  30. Thanks, Dorothy. One day at a time, hey? It's all we can do xxx

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  31. Thank you so much, AFW. I'm not entirely sure why I posted it, but now that makes me feel better :) xxx

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  32. It's started to kick in yesterday, so things are lifting. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Trish.

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  33. Thanks, FEM. It's hard enough pouring my heart out to a therapist!

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  34. Yep I got issues and I ain't sharing them. Well not all of them. The ones that are resolved sure, why not. But the issues that aren't resolved, well they're for me.

    I think we're all damaged goods. And for the the most part, that's okay.

    Love & stuff
    Mrs M

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  35. Am I okay? Like you I'm not, and I doubt I ever will be. But I will be.
    As Dorothy says as you get older and wiser and learn more about yourself, the mind, and your moods, it gets easier to sit with.
    I doubt I will ever be 'normal' or 'okay' like most of my friends and family. But I will be alright. I will be the best person and Mum I can be. I will accept what I can change, and make peace with what I cannot. I will work on changing or doing whatever needs to be done to get near okay.
    I hope you cut yourself a break and know that your reaction is a normal reaction to horrible events. It doesn't mean your life is falling apart or your spiralling back into depression and anxiety. And you are getting help AND speaking out. That's awesome.
    You will get to a stage where it is better, I promise. xo

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  36. Then perhaps this is your first clue, hon. xxxx

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  37. <3 <3 <3
    I KNOW how hard even this much was for you. I know that you know I know exactly what you're saying.
    I signed up for the RUOK Day post. I had to, it's something I believe in, even if I, like you, hypocritically take another approach. I am taking a different approach to the few (like you holy triggers Batman!) I have read.
    Fuck ok. Ok is boring. We make life interesting!
    Lots and lots of love to you. So proud of you for going back on the meds if you felt you needed them xx

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  38. This is why I've beaten aorund the edges. Scared. Hard to talk about

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  39. I have enough trouble admitting to wishing Vanilla Ice would make a comeback - never mind anything really bad (like if you  wanted him to duet with MC Hammer or something !)

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  40. by you talking, you inspire others to talk. Not only about mental illness for themselves but for others to ask others RU OK? not everyone is as brave as you! thankyou! Glad I am behind this great campaign with such special and truthful and brave individuals :) xx

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  41. you just did answer honestly... sometimes just saying no I'm not ok is all that is needed to be done. Well it is for me. Several people over the last few days have asked that question of me... and I have answered honestly - No. I'm not. But I will be. I just can't talk about it, it hurts too much. 

    just knowing that someone genuinely asked, accepted and respected my answer, makes me feel a little bit better, and a little bit less alone.

    This dark place that I thought I was in by myself right now, has a few other people in here with me... that's a comfort in itself.

    thank you for your honesty. xx

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  42. Thank you for posting this, lovely, despite feeling that you can't share details, putting your hand up to say, "i'm not okay" is enough to encourage someone to say it to! Also, saying that you recognise this and seek help when you need it, that helps, too. As you probably know, having a mental illness - the nature of it - is isolating. It feels like letting others hear the inner working of your mind will make them pity you or run away and hide because it's too much. You believe it's too much for them because you feel it's too much for you. That is isolating because it feels like no one will ever understand. So, just by saying, "I'm not okay" is beakon to let others know, "You're not alone, I get it. You can tell someone, too"

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  43. I have news for you- I hear Vanilla Ice is touring in November. Things are looking up for you!

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  44. Big soft, or tight squeezy - you choose to suit - hugs for you. Most of us are indeed fucked in the head at some time or other. Thank you for sharing Hon x

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  45. It's ok to not be ok, just don't keep it to yourself. I can't always verbalise why I'm not, but I do admit when things are going pear-shaped again as you have done today.

    Still struggling with what to share on my post, because as you say, those wounds are all just below the thin-skinned surface waiting to bleed with little prompting. And I'd rather not pick at them.

    You've shown plenty of courage, Glow x

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  46. I used to think anyone who said they weren't damaged was lying...
    Thanks Mrs M x

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  47. Thank you so much for all your support, Bronnie. Here, on twitter, DMs and such over the past few months. It has been so very helpful x

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  48. I know you know I know you know I know. Wait, I'm confused.
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  49. It is so hard to talk about... which is why I've talked about not talking about it! I couldn't go the whole hog.
    Hope things improve for you soon after all your upheavals lately x

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  50. It is such a great campaign, I couldn't say no when I was asked if I was free to cover the event. Plus it's at Gloria Jean's and I love their Iced Chocolates :)

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  51. One of the problems with being in a dark place is that we (I) can't see much outside ourselves sometimes. But this has been an opportunity to look around x

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  52. Like I said on Twitter, Sif, I can tell you truly understand. If I'm honest, I should have sought help about three months ago when I couldn't control the anxiety with my usual 'tricks'. Better late than never though, right?

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  53. It's a good tag, no? I described myself like that to a psychiatrist once and he just laughed.

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  54. Get in!!   Reeeesult!   er - not for me though obviously - but someone at work was asking that's all...

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  55. Hun,  This is your OWN blog, your OWN world, your OWN life and especially your emotions - do exactly what is best for you. Plus your braver than most people I know (including me). 
    Im sorry to hear about your granddad and hope everyone is ok.

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  56. But in so many ways you are OK, Glowless, because you know how to ask for help and you, hopefully, know which combos of therapy and medication can help you best.

    Having a baby who needs surgery is huge and the other illnesses and the loss of your grandfather are huge life events.  You needed help and you've asked for it.  Fantastic, well done you.  Nothing wrong with it and everything right.

    Your write that the wounds are too raw and they will always be this way.  I don't think so, I hope not.  Time really is a great healer (I know, a thought that makes you feel like spewing, who's got time for time?)

    I had a really rough time as a child and teenager... but it was 30 years ago now... my son was dx with autism spectrum, but that was 11 years ago now, terrible PND, but that was a while ago too.  Thank god for the times that passes.

    Have learned a lot about living in the present, and that it becomes easier as time passes, move further away from  the worst of times.  My life is now... and like you, I have learned how to get help when needed.

    xx

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  57. for me too Glow.

     Everyone has a story, a journey, a trauma that has cut them deeply... just the degrees of it change I think. ...

    my biggest issue right now is guilt, and reconciling, and forgiving myself... same journey - different day.

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  58. I just wanted to say thank you for your honesty.  After re-reading my original comment before posting I realised that I clearly am not OK, and I need to get help....now (I have deleted what I was going to say as it isn't helpful) So I am going to try to see my doctor this afternoon. xxx

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  59. Hugs to you for your honesty Ms Glowless :) That is all

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  60. Jo I'm so glad you're going to see your doctor. Sometimes until we take the time to look, we don't realize we aren't coping and need some help. xxx

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  61. Thank you, Seana for sharing a little part of your story. I don't hold out much hope for my wounds to heal. Some that are 25 years old are still as fresh as if they happened yesterday... but I use mindfulness to try and navigate around them and live in the moment as much as I can.

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  62. Thanks, I've been and had a good chat and big cry with GP, a blood test to see what else may be going on and am armed with medication, another appointment next week and she's referring me for counselling...feel a tiny bit better for having taken some action even if it will take weeks to start to work.  xx

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  63. I am in admiration of your bravery and honesty, Glow x

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  64. I cant get comments to stick on your wall.. I did write on this but its not there..

    Anyway I just want to say I can totally relate to this post on so many levels. I want to send a big hug out to you and let you know I admire you so much for writing this post xx

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  65. Thank you :) Everyone is moving on, we scattered his ashes on Friday.

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  66. Thanks, Laney. Realizing we're not alone is such a huge relief for so many of us, definitely for me.

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  67. Thanks Sarah. Sorry you had troubles. Disqus doesn't like everybody and is rather temperamental at times :(

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  68. Can I just tell you how much I admire you, you strong brave lady?  I know you don't feel brave, but I just feel that even writing this much was incredibly hard and emotional for you.  I'm so sorry that after putting yourself through this and out there, you went to the launch and got ignored.  You must be so angry and hurt.  
    Thank you for posting though.  To say "I'm not OK and probably never will be" albeit hard to admit (how easy is it to say: yeah thanks, I'm great!), makes other people sit up and notice that it's OK not to be OK.
    I'm gonna go before I type the word OK anymore.
    I want to cry for you right now - not because I feel sorry for you, btw.  Because I love you (in a non creepy bloggy way) mwah xx

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  69. In your position I think I would be velcroed to the carpet under the bed.  Of course you are raw and hurting and emphatically not OK.  I think it was v v brave of you to post at all.  Thank you.

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  70. I'm not sure if you read my RU OK? post but I wanted to admit to you it was watered down profusely, mainly because of me having to go back to the corporate world next year and telling the full story would leave me incredibly vulnerable to all sorts of nasty freaks that take advantage of any weakness. So I shared only one of many stories and acted as if I'm all cool now, which I am not. But reading your post tonight, especially the parts about the feelings just below the surface and the open wounds was like reading my first hidden draft. Thank you for being brave and honest, and one day when my livelihood is under my full control I hope I can be as open too. I know a virtual hug is not the same but I'm sending one anyway because I so know how you feel and living with our dark feelings is the hardest thing in the world. Love Nic xxx

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  71. I wrote a comment days ago, but the interwebs eated it.

    It said something like this:

    You're awesome, missus.

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  72. I think you are very courageous just to share what you have done here. Speaking up, asking for help can be hard. I imagine with the stress you have endured, you've done it tougher than most, and your illness compounds.
    I think you're very awesome and hope you are OK.

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