I wrote this article for Stuff.co.nz a few years ago...
"I battled with depression, dermatillomania and body dysmorphia from a young age. I escaped school, jobs and friendships until it seemed that escaping life was the only option left that would give me peace.
On the night I decided to take my own life, a voice reminded me that my children needed me. Through this epiphany I realised that I needed to leave my family in order to survive. I flushed all the pills I’d prepared and went to bed.
After I left my family, drug, alcohol and gambling addictions were quickly added to the list.
It took 10 years of self-analysis and self-medication to transform my mind from a cold, black, lifeless cell into a warm, rich oasis but it was worth every tear shed.
I’ve been everything-free for more than seven years now but lately my peaceful mind has become restless. It feels irresponsible to have been through the transformation that I have and not share the journey in the hope that even one troubled mind might see its own potential and start the challenging yet rewarding trek to free itself.
Where did I start?
Acceptance: Finding out this thing I had was called depression, and that others had it, helped me take small steps towards accepting it. There were also steps backwards but the steps forward became leaps once I sorted out my family life.
After having a series of almost comical interactions with professionals and the medication they prescribed, I realised I was the only one who could get myself out of it.
Changing my surroundings: After standing back and looking at my reality, I was surprised to find that no-one was forcing me to think the way I did. I had to admit to myself that it was all in my head and that maybe my illness was due to my perceptions of my reality.
I also noticed that others were living in worse conditions than me yet they seemed to be level headed and positive about their situation. Why couldn’t I be this way?
I set about overhauling everything I listened to, looked at, read, wore and did. I purged out anything dark, black or negative and surrounded myself with colour, positivity and hope. Even if my mind was still in the depths of despair, everything around me was supporting my intention to change.
Mantras: I walked everywhere and I started reciting a mantra with every step: “Every day in every way, my life keeps getting better and better”.
This was a classic ‘fake it till you make it’. I was reciting this mantra even as tears of despair were streaming down my face but what I realised was that while these words were going over and over in my mind, other more dangerous ones couldn’t.
Painting: I’d never painted before but someone gave me some paints and I found some scrap boards. I only had one rule and that was not to judge anything I did.
I went from timid scribbles to massive flourishes of colour. None of it was understood by or desirable to others but the paint may as well have been the blackness in my head and with each brush stroke I felt like I was hemorrhaging out years of darkness.
Writing: I wrote voraciously. I was living in a small caravan nestled between two beautiful big native trees on a bank overlooking the sea. While looking out over the beach, I would write endlessly until I got growths on my fingers.
I wrote about torments past and fears for the future. I wrote questions about my sanity.
I will always think of this time as The Great Purge.
I also created a Note To Self book where I would write any breakthroughs or positive comments people made that I could reflect on.
Music: I found that certain tracks triggered hours of sobbing, after which I always felt better, so I put together playlists of themes. I still have them to this day and when I hear them now, they bring back visceral feelings of that time but the tears are now of appreciation and gratitude of how far I’ve come since then.
Reading: I read every self-help book that I was offered or could find. Like the mantras, while my mind was being pre-occupied by external words, especially words of hope, there was no room for internal words of doom.
I set about learning about myself through numerology, eastern and western astrology etc and I found that a lot of the aspects I fought against or saw as negative in my make-up, I was able to reframe.
Sayings: I knew I had to cut the negative thought patterns off at the pass. So every time my mind started wandering down a dark alley of negativity, I would cut it off with an internal, non-negotiable voice saying ‘That’s not helpful!’.
Charts: I created a chart where I could monitor my ups and downs five times a day. I started noticing the correlation between those ups and downs and my monthly cycle, my diet, how much sleep I was getting, what substances I was taking and who I was associated with. I still use this tool when I go through the occasional down day just to check in if it might be because of one of these factors, or something deeper I need to look into.
Diet: When my living circumstances changed and it was my job to prepare healthy meals, the lifting of my mood changed dramatically almost overnight so I became hyper aware of my food and liquid intake.
Moving: In my darkest times I would spend 20 hours a day in bed. I had to force myself into the shower but then I would spend 20 hours alternating between bed and couch. What I noticed was that even though I was still not functioning, just the act of moving from one room to the other would often divert my attention from the constant cycle of doom.
Higher power: I knew I couldn’t afford to reject anything that might be helpful so I allowed myself to delve into spirituality. After an exceptionally moving experience one Easter, I hesitantly and skeptically asked ‘this God thing’ into my life with such profound results that I never doubted again. I went on to investigate (and reject) many different religions and just settled on the concept of God as the perfect aspect of my Self. This was probably the biggest turning point in my recovery. I’m not religious but I found that having a positive, all loving and compassionate external entity to believe in when I had nothing internal to pin my hopes on was transformative to say the least.
For ten years I was essentially in a constant one person, two-minded battle that I fought with words and images every single day. I knew I was extremely narcissistic but I was able to accept it because I needed to spend every second thinking about my Self in order just to survive.
I eventually understood that the manic episodes were just me trying to fit everything I could into the brief moments I felt normal. I would contact friends and family, apply for jobs, submit proposals, spend money I didn’t have, make massive changes to my surroundings and appearance and party with a franticness that knew it had a limited time span before the cave beckoned again.
I learnt that everything was relative to each individual’s frames of reference which helped me accept my appearance, background and skills (or lack of) as unique to me.
After I moved away from my home town for a fresh start, I had to ring my doctor back home to find out my blood type. When they admitted they’d lost my records, I suddenly saw my life as a crisp white piece of blank paper on a clipboard and it was up to me what got recorded on it from here on in.
As the depression faded away, so did every one of the other addictions. And I say ‘other addictions’ because, on hindsight, I realised that depression, for me, was an addiction to negative thinking. Once I broke that cycle, I eventually became free and today I’m a sickeningly happy and content 50 year old who wouldn’t change anything about my past because it gives me empathy and a visceral understanding of what others are going through."
I've moved from the easiness of living in a caravan behind my parents in my hometown of New Plymouth, and coasting on the savings from my last two film jobs, to an exquisite but expensive room in Auckland with a borrowed car and, I've realised, fast running out borrowed time till my savings vanish.
Even though I have a longer term film contract starting here in January, I know I need to find some inbetween work so I've been applying for anything that interests me. 3 temping agencies, a talent agency and a modeling agency.
But here's the thing...
After the initial high of adapting and settling in to a rampantly fascinating new environment, I came down.
Only the talent agency got back to me, I had an interview with them, then I chickened out of going any further.
I could feel my confidence retreating. Not wanting to go out and blaming the weather. Not wanting to chase up the applications and blaming inexperience. The only thing it's wanted to do is cut all my hair off, blaming boredom and restlessness.
I've been watching and listening to all the right people - Gabrielle Bernstein, Brene Brown etc and keeping up with exercise but feeling stuck. Here I am again. Busy every day doing nothing.
Then today I had one of those 'nothing fits or looks right' mornings.
I've been blessed with a filter that can only see the good in my body, no matter how many excess ripples or rolls but even I had to acknowledge that no agency would hire me if I didn't tone up a bit.
I'm going soft.
I am also, however, blessed with the ability to keep plugging on until I do feel right. Until I do get a breakthrough. Even if it's just small and personal.
So after my fifth outfit change, in desperation to break out the confines of my wardrobes stifling box, I went to change my flat practical shoes for the outrageous stiletto boots.
Two things happened.
First I saw that I now had calluses on the balls of my feet from last week when I wore my next highest boots to the interview with the talent agency. I'd developed crippling blisters so that it was either hobble or clench my teeth while walking home. And I could not bring myself to hobble!
Next, I was actually able to walk in the stilettos!
This won't sound like much to you (and probably don't look that high either) but I've been buying cheap stiletto's for years just to wear around home and practise, determined to one day walk effortlessly on the pinpoint heels. And after 20 years, today was the day! It was magic. Like when you learn to drive or type and suddenly your brain switches off and lets muscle memory do its thing.
So what my feet taught me was that, despite seeing myself as soft, I do have the ability to do serious work, to grit my teeth through the inevitable pain and that, in fact, without that pain, I wouldn't get the calluses I needed to toughen me up and carry me to the next level. And, yet again, to have faith. To switch my brain off and let my body take over. It knows what's expected of it. It will perform when it's required but it will never get the chance if my brain keeps micro-managing every potential opportunity.
As always, I'm not sure what new doors these breakthroughs will open but I'm now ready to knock on a few more to find out....
When on the hunt for Jonah from Tonga, I signed up for Netflix and after binge watching Jonah, Okja, Minimalism and Please Like Me, I may even keep the subscription going after the first free month. So far, it's been really worth it.
The first episode of Please Like Me is a struggle. The main character (and writer) is Josh Thomas and his awkwardness is a bit cringey to start with but right from the start you can see the brilliant acting, strong story lines, unexpected twists and gritty conversations.
That the majority of these conversations and twists are around having mental health issues and being gay (not necessarily related in this show btw), is brave enough but they're handled exceptionally well and anyone struggling with either of these issues would find this show both stimulating and refreshing in it's head-on-ness.
There's no meanness. There's no good versus evil. Everyone is just trying to get on with theirs and others dysfunctions with self awareness and humour.
Most of all, however, it's wracked with raw honesty.
If humans could learn to be honest without being mean, and learn how to take this honesty without offense, they would develop more meaningful relationships, be more courageous and not be so afraid to love.
I was shocked to see it was 3:30am when the binge spell was momentarily broken by a full bladder and also thrilled that there are two more seasons to watch and talk of more...
It's sad that people are so racist, all they can see and react to is the brown face/Tongan aspect of Jonah from Tonga.
That is judgement at its most base. Judging something from it's external appearance without giving it a chance.
Yes, Jonah is painful to watch because he's clearly troubled but he isn't troubled because he's Tongan, he's troubled because he's an adolescent.
Chris Lilley's writing is exceptional in the way he sets up relationships, showing how complications and misunderstandings arise, especially with Jonah's naivete.
But he also shows the compassion and empathy of those who Jonah most antagonises.
It's a shame the majority of those reacting can't see that this series, as with Summer Heights High, gives adults and young teens an opportunity to view the complexities of the adolescent transition.
There are strong story lines around the characters who don't give up on them and the resulting trust and respect the young ones develop with them (reference when the boys sing the traditional Tongan song for someone who is leaving, to their favourite teacher)
This is what should be taken away from both series.
To see the children, not their behaviour and the ultimate outcome of resilience.
It's such a shame that the Maori TV Board have taken away this opportunity, projecting their 'adult' views on a series, that could have a positive impact on the adolescent viewers.
These series could be a relevant resource to use in class to draw out children experiencing difficulties. Pointing out Jonah's behaviour, why the adults react the way they do, then how they could do things differently.
Yes, I'm a sickeningly optimistic idealist and I'm hoping, for the kids sake, others are too...
I'm going to tell you a story so you may want to round up your attention span...
Over 25 years ago, I was pushing the double buggy with Charley and Gracie happily lolling around in the recline position and Jess running beside it. My best friend and confidante, Michelle was pushing Kristie-Lee and Raquel and Moomoo was mooching along beside Jess. Even though there was no-one in sight, I looked around over both my shoulders to make sure no-one could hear us and nervously said to Michelle, I've got something to tell you. Her eyes lit up and she said Ooooh - what?! Shaking and with my stomach a concrete slab of butterflies, I admitted that I really wanted to join ROCK100, the new radio station that had just started up.
I was surprised by her lack of surprise. She looked at me with an "And?!"
Her blatant faith in me gave me the courage to ring the station where I talked to the open-minded Peter. I became a volunteer copy writer within weeks then went on to be not only paid but, over the next year, I became the Promotions Manager (thanks Violet!).
Fast forward to a few years ago... I could see the sun over the other side of our office so I decided to go out and get my own lunch for a change, rather that relying on the runner to bring it to my desk.
As I was strolling in the lurid sunlight down a quaint street in Dunedin, marveling at the architecture and the unseasonal warmth on my back and feeling blissfully lucky to be there, that conversation suddenly came back to me.
Here I was, a Payroll Accountant in the film industry. On location, no less. And I wasn't even exaggerating. That's exactly what would be on the credits when they finally rolled.
Suddenly I realised that if someone had told me all those years before, as I lumbered along in my black Adidas trackies and ugg boots, dragging my suicidal depression behind me, that I was going to be doing this role in the future, I would have been devastated at their cruelty. Back then, imagining myself in the radio industry seemed ludicrous enough.
At that moment, on that blinding sunny day in Dunedin, I realised that they weren't the Delusions of Grandeur I'd been mocked mercilessly with by two family members so many years before, they were, in fact, Dreams of Greatness and that the overwhelming depression I was suffocated in back then represented the seemingly impossible divide between the reality of my current stark state and the magnificence I imagined for myself.
So, I have a message for those who feel their life is a void of nothingness and can't see any obvious path to the brilliance they secretly envisage for themselves...
That brilliance is a mere fraction of what the Universe has planned for you. Whatever you see for yourself is based on your limited perception of what you deserve and what you're capable of but if you keep pushing, regardless of your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual state, the Universe's bottom rung of the ladder will still be be a mountain above your most optimistic view for yourself.
There are only three things you need to do: be open-minded, let go of the need for perfection and have faith in yourself and your abilities to come to the party, when it's thrust upon you.
Because I can tell you from the experience of someone who had no education, no connections and no redeeming features to buy/brag/con their way into success, miracles do happen. When you see that tiny crack of light beckoning you to that world you dreamed of, you just have to back yourself and be ready to give it whatever you have, no matter how unprepared you might feel. And take my word for it, if it doesn't unfold as you imagined, ditch the GPS, put on your favourite playlist then buckle up for one mindfunk of a roadie...
Isn't it fascinating when we know what a word means but don't truly get it till we experience it.
Now that I'm 50, I have no time to lose and have become unapologetically prolific with sharing words of love, acceptance and encouragement with every comment, post and f2f interaction. And rather than being worried about those friends who will inevitably turn off my posts on Facebook, I'm seeing a group of the same loving, accepting and supportive friends liking every post. It's that simple. You get what you give.
But it's also about relativity, yet again.
How friends react is in direct proportion to what they're attracted to or learning from right now.
I'm in no way offended by those who might ignore anything I have to say.
It's not that they don't like or respect me or what I'm saying, it's just that their attention is focused on something else right now. Just as I don't always respond to others. None of it's personal.
I used to despise Facebook and resent how reliant I'd got on it as the only way of keeping in touch with the people all over the world who I really care about but I think I just hadn't understood the system enough to get the most out of it.
I'm now able to manipulate the algorithms so they only suggest what I am in fact interested in. I finally Liked the right page to send me down a rabbit hole wonderland of links to words that mean something to me and I'm sharing the shit out of all of them and I'm even starting to share some of my own...
Documentary or Based on True Story are my go to genres lately. In that order.
Music isn't really featuring that much but what I've started calling Motivids continue to have the most influence on my progress I think I've ever had from one source.
Every time I start doubting myself, I'll put on an hour long track and feel it reinfuse me with belief. I'm even starting to know whole portions of speeches so when I talk along with them, I feel the power at an even more visceral level. I've told you before how I have trouble projecting my voice but I've been feeling stirings of these strong words coming up through my chest like a volcano.
It wasn't an oozing golden stream of strength that came out today when I yelled at my SonofaNPD father though. It was sharp, heavy rocks and black, claustrophobic ash. It was dramatic. But it was real. And it was newly articulate as I heard myself speak in the voices I'd been programming myself with. As I hung up on him I realised straight away that it was the closest I'd had to my throat opening up fully so even though I was deeply upset, I felt euphoric too. In fact, both experiences made me feel out of sorts but I told my self, in my new motivid voice, to get comfortable with the discomfort. Which I did almost as soon as it came out of where those pieces of advice come from.
Later in the afternoon Father rang back and even though my not-so-grown-up was tempted to reject his call, I felt calmer so picked up. He was ringing to find out if I'd asked my cousin to make the stuffing for all the meat he and his friends had arranged for my 50th birthday party in a few weeks.
As if nothing had happened.
I'd forgotten this part about him.
Not the generosity. Focusing entirely on that is the only way I can be in an ongoing relationship with him.
I'd forgotten his ability to forgive.
One of the beautiful anomalies about someone with NPD is that they don't have the gene that allows them to see when they're wrong. It doesn't even occur to them that they could ever be wrong so forgiveness is easy for them. They're also devoid of empathy, so their version of forgiveness is the closest thing to empathy they have to give.
So here's the Based on True Story reveal...
It took getting furious with the one person who would forgive me, to finally unshackle my voice.
I also found out this afternoon that genuine moving-right-along forgiveness is the ultimate proof of non-judgement and acceptance. And it was only when the fresh air of my fathers forgiveness floated through that I felt the holes lack of them had created.
15 years ago I was living in my office. (My 'company' provided administration services to the rest of the offices). Others might have seen my living situation as pitiful but I was in a historic building in the middle of a botanic gardens so I felt privileged. My filing cabinet was my wardrobe and I slept under my desk on a row of pillows which turned out to be really good for my back. There was a shower in the females bathroom down the hall and I had a local laundry come pick up my washing once a week. Once others in the building realised I was living there, they would leave casseroles outside my door and if they were leaving late and my lights were out, they'd tap on my door and whisper Goodnight E.
The only thing I had to avoid were the security guards who would often shine their torches through my reception window but I always arranged my pillows at just the right angle under my desk so they wouldn't see me.
A company just down the hall from me were a couple in their early 40's who worked together. She was extremely outgoing, he was extremely not. Naturally they were among the first to notice I was living there and were curious about my background. Dangerous question for anyone to ask if they've got an appointment in the next 3 days! I never hold back and went on to share that not only was I poor (obviously) but that I had severe depression. I was then really surprised when the guy admitted he suffered from depression too. I was even more surprised when he explained that it was from an overwhelming feeling of helplessness at not being able to do anything about the worlds problems. It had never occurred to me that there might be other sorts of depressions. Sure the root was helplessness - but that it was triggered by other peoples suffering was what moved me.
Ever since then, whenever my breath is taken away and replaced by a stream of tears at terminal injustice, I think of him.
Those tears had started before the first credits of this movie and my chest still feels like a block of concrete 2 hours later after watching what can only be described as inexcusable brutality to human rights.
When my colleague told me about his depression, my first response was to be relieved I didn't have that form. But ever since then I've wondered what other triggers there might be. The garden variety (if I can say that without it sounding trivialising) must be self helplessness - ie: having some view of oneself and/or ones lifestyle and feeling unable to do anything about it.
Are there any others that could be surprising to know?
I only ask because empathy grows with deeper understanding and I have no limit to how deep I'm prepared to go to get it...
A few weeks ago I made a declaration in my journal that I was ready to speak and demanded that the Universe start throwing things at me. Later that night I was thinking about my step-fathers 70th coming up and suddenly drew in a sharp breath of fear and said out loud - "Oh no! Don't make me do a speech!!"
What the what?!
Hadn't I just signed up for that very thing?
Luckily, because I'm my own therapist, I was able to see the contradiction in only a few hours and nervously but happily went on to say a well received speech the next weekend.
This afternoon I went to see a dear friend I hadn't seen for many years and we talked non-stop for 3 hours. The last time we hung out 18-20 years ago I was still at my worst so I was able to give the short version of the progress I'd made then finished by relating the last post. Of course she was supportive and I left feeling heard and optimistic again.
As I was driving home I ran the conversations from the past week over in my head and realised, again, that I had been giving mixed messages and straight out contradicting myself.
PMA post 2 days ago..."...but I still hadn't felt worthy of commenting" (saying I don't comment)
PMA post today... "I just can't understand why the words I share appear to go into a black hole..." (saying I do comment but no-one notices)
An online mental health organisation to me... "I've seen 2 of your comments on the page, and you seem to know your stuff, do you think you would be interested in volunteering for us?" (someone noticing and giving wonderful feedback and asking if I want to be more involved)
The same online organisation a few weeks later..."You've given the right advice! You know exactly what to say and how to help! ...would you be interested in having a chat?" (someone else noticing and giving more wonderful feedback and asking to chat more)
My responses back to the organisation..."Thanks so much to for being so inclusive and asking me a few times to chat and even become more involved...as much as I would love to chat, I know myself well enough not to at this stage. I'll just keep commenting occasionally if that's OK with you all" (shutting down any communication)
It couldn't be clearer. I'm giving mixed messages everywhere I go - it's no wonder I go no steps forward and a few steps back.
How often do we do this with our most aching desires? Pining to be on stage yet sabotaging every free back stage pass?
When I was depressed I would have closed my curtains in shame, crawled into my duvet and these conversations would have been my new favourite Failure playlist to drown in.
Tonight though, I'll go to bed feeling satisfied that I've taken notice, hopefully learnt and keen to exercise this new understanding of giving clear messages.
As I was writing that last paragraph, the darling friend I visited sent me this poignant message just now...
"It was so lovely to catch up today, you were and are still one of the most amazing souls I have ever meet. You're a breath of fresh air to talk with and I'm blessed you're in my life. I think back to how you virtually saved my life, they were some dark days for me 😞 But bad times make you stronger and I'm thankful for my life today. Thank you for your visit, it makes me feel humble. You're a strong stunning women, and when I hear stories of struggle or hardship, it not only gives me strength and hope but also courage xxxxx"
When I read that, through tears of gratitude, I heard the Universe saying, Don't give up on those dreams to help others just yet...
All I think about every minute of every day is how I can share the valuable, transferable information I taught myself to become free of depression and addictions. I contribute online where I can, I have an open and honest website and blog, I journal breakthroughs and observations daily, I apply for grants with the aim of writing a book, I check in with my friends and whanau/family who are struggling and I research endlessly.In a world of Likes and Shares and Referrals and Viral posts, I just can't understand why the words I share appear to go into a black hole. I'm always asking myself what I can do better, researching how I can write more engagingly, looking at my personality flaws to see if I might be self-sabotaging what feels like such a pure intent and I couldn't have made it any clearer that I want feedback, no matter what you have to say, but with 0.1% response.
My mission statement has been the same for over 30 years.
"To help people feel better about themselves"
And only recently, with a heightened sense of urgency, I added the words "en masse" at the end. A reporter even did an article of my offer to talk to groups - any groups of any size - about overcoming depression and addictions. The article was a disaster and I had her remove it from online before it could go to print but even then, it had been up for over 14 hours with no response.
What more can I do?
My ultimate goal is to meet others who've overcome adversity, identify what tools we all used and share them relentlessly but I can't seem to get past my own keyboard.
This is my last cry to help.
I'm financially comfortable, have few commitments and even though I have the same fear as anyone else about putting myself in the public eye, all I think about are those who are suffering. My fear is momentary - their pain is interminable. It feels irresponsible to have experienced that pain, overcome it to be a happy and content every day and not share that process.
It will break my heart to give up trying but at some point (and that point is my turning 50 in a few weeks) you have to acknowledge when somethings not working and move on.
If you have any suggestions or feedback, hopefully you now get an idea of how valuable they would be to me...
I watched a few documentaries about child poverty in the weekend. The kids lived (mostly) in squalor but they seemed happy enough. They were all exceptionally perceptive about themselves and their parents, knowing they were doing their best. Most of the kids went to breakfast club and often didn't get lunch or dinner but when the parents were interviewed, I couldn't help but notice the nails, jewellery, styled hair, cigarettes, alcohol etc.
At first I was horrified that it seemed I was being judgemental but I have a saying - Observation is when you notice the guy walking toward you has tattoo's on his face, judgement is crossing the street before he gets to you. In other words, I was merely observing because I didn't suddenly decide they were bad parents.
I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong in the mix. If the parents cared (which they clearly did), why were some of these children living in such horrendous conditions and missing out on food? One boy even had to wear his older sisters hand me down clothes to go to school and was bullied mercilessly.
In the early hours of the morning, the answer woke me from my sleep.
It's all about priorities.
Every member of the family was struggling and the things some of the parents spent their meagre income on were prioritised - often, obviously, their sanity (cigarettes and alcohol) being more important than groceries. I'm still not judging - I've been that person. I'm just now more aware.
So, here's where all this went...
Whenever something hits home with a whumpf like that one did, I always have to run it through my mental health database and see if it fits in somewhere and I was able to see so clearly that my climb out of the pits of despair started when I changed my priorities. I had identified that depression, for me, was an addiction to negative thinking and self-loathing so I changed my priorities overnight to focus on positivity and finding things to even just like about myself.
Even though I'm a nobody in every sense of the word - I'm 50 in a few weeks, live wayyy under the radar in my parents caravan and survive on a benefit - I'm extremely happy and content.
I had been questioning whether I was deluding myself and was in fact a loser doing nothing each week but writing and traveling between both sets of parents, but within the context of priorities, I was so relieved to see that with my priorities being to look after both sets of parents and help the few friends I have whenever I can, that I'm far from a loser. Suddenly, giving up a lucrative career in the film industry seemed a very small price to pay for all my parents safety, health and happiness.
What do you think?
When you review the issues in your life are you able to identify a priority that could be adjusted? Or are you able to see yourself in a different, more favourable light when you acknowledge your priorities?
Do you see this relating to another aspect of your life?
I'd be curious to know...
With Suicide Prevention Week coming up in September (usually on my birthday ironically), I always reflect on not only what progress I've made since my two experiences with suicide and suicidal depression, but on progress the world around us is making toward helping those who genuinely feel like it would be a better place without them.
I had a rough morning - my version of rough anyway. Then everywhere I turned there was what seemed like unrelenting negativity. The radio was talking about Trumps latest insults, the news had one soul undermining headline after another (my friend Fiona calls is 'misledia') and my brain went into a spiral of What's the point?! Maybe I could let my family know that even though I'm happy and content, I just don't see any progress happening anytime soon so would it be OK with you if I check out? Nothing personal.
In the past, when I used addictions to salve my wounded soul, I would have reached for a pipe or a bottle, but today my news feed reached out to me and gave me this video and it reminded me of the humanity of love. My point being it's not about the video - it's about what I found comfort in.
I have a lot to say. I've overcome depression and multiple addictions by myself but I still hadn't felt worthy of commenting. But when I compare what I have to say with what so many others have to say, I realised I just have to get over myself. My words are of strength and overcoming adversity. Who doesn't need those kinds of words?
So, this page, that has been passive is about to get a bit more vocal. If your attention span doesn't do 'soliloquy', I'll understand if you don't come back.
But like anybody else, your comments, likes and feedback will be my fuel and the more you give, the more I'll give back.
This is me Pimping My Attitude and you're heartily welcome to join me...
I'm not sure that these words are going to translate the gratitude that wells in my chest every time I visualise you and re-feel your presence and kindness...
This job was the hardest role I've ever had in my 30 years of working. Even managing 90 fickle cleaners for a year, three quarters of whom made it clear they didn't like me from Minute One was a Princess Fiona themed party compared to this. You know what I'm talking about. Everyone on the production would know what I'm talking about. And that's what made it bearable - knowing that every single person involved in the production was struggling as much as I was. But I won't go into the details for obvious reasons.
What I do want to share is the way you not only got me through it, but helped me to heal from it.
The first time we met, we'd been emailing and by then I knew who you were but you'd never seen me yet the second we came face to face yours exploded into a mosaic of smiles and you lunged toward me, wrapping your arms around me with a hug I could have lived in for the rest of my life. And from that day, our greetings were almost always the same.
We didn't get to chat much but whenever we did, I felt like you weren't just listening to my words - you heard everything I wasn't saying and saw deeper than anyone had bothered to look. Seeing me reflected in your eyes reminded me of who I was and not who I was worried that I was becoming.
Towards the end I felt infected by my surroundings and I was scared I would never get rid of the layer of smelly behaviour that I was forced to soak in each day, then you gave me the perfect gift. Some Weleda Body Wash. Each night I would come home to my apartment, literally stripping off my clothes from the door to get in the shower as soon as I could - using the body wash to cleanse away the days cloying emotional corruption as if my souls salvation depended on it.
We all made it home from location, battered and bone weary.
By now my body and mind were starting to shut down to the point that I was unable to talk to anyone and just kept my headphones on to avoid any interactions. I was in an office full of people yet never felt so isolated. We were so close to the end yet those last few weeks felt interminable and I felt depression creeping into the gaping wounds in my mind.
Your role had essentially finished so I didn't see you much but you promised to come and say goodbye so when I came back to my desk one morning, I knew the gifts of two bars of chocolate, a card and some lavender were from you. I called the chocolate lunch that day but the card...that card became bandage and salve...
I got home from my last ugly day, to more ugliness in my inbox. I kept reminding myself that They couldn't hurt me anymore, that I was free and immediately deleted everything associated with the role, including the website I'd taken weeks to make. I then wandered forlornly around my house almost hyperventilating with both distress and relief. I slowly unpacked everything I'd bought home, rolling all the events, interactions and words over and over in my mind until I'd almost convinced myself that I was unworthy of the few friendships that I had, and that I'd done such a bad job of my role that I'd never work again.
Then I unpacked your card.
I related immediately to the woman on the front. To me she looked emotionally devoid. But when I turned it over and reread the words you had written on the back I sobbed, saying out loud "This may just be enough to heal me!". Then I clutched that card to my chest for the rest of the afternoon, rereading it every time clouds of doubt threatened and when I was finally able to let it go, I tucked it up in my bathroom mirror so just the sight of it could build on the strength that was seeping back in to me.
So, all of this to say you made a difference. What, to you, might have been small tokens of appreciation were my salvation. They've also taught me not to underestimate the immense power a spontaneous kind word or small gift might have. You weren't to know what was going on in my head and heart and even though all that I've shared here might seem melodramatic and even pathetic to some, it was my reality at the time.
It's only been a week since I walked out that door for the last time without even saying goodbye to those around me and already I've been contacted about three different roles. Also, my friends have been lining up to see me, all helping me to morph back into my strong, positive, happy Self.
The words Thank You don't even come close to the cuff of your jeans. You might never read this and I'll probably never see you again but I had to share the impact you had on my life while you were part of it and to tell you that you are the only memory I chose to keep from this experience...
Pimp My Attitude
This is where I think out loud as I transform my appearance, thought processes and most of all, attitude - no matter how unpretty.