Archive for the ‘Panic’ Category

Perfection, noun

“the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects”Oxford Dictionary Pointless pursuit of perfection

Why do we strive constantly for perfection, what is perfection? What is enough? When do we find acceptance and understand that we can only do so much before the cracks start to show, before we start to splinter a little bit at a time, before the cracks become to large and it becomes difficult to find our way back.

I am a perfectionist, a work-horse, a task master, an unyielding “encourager”! Which at times I am told, is hell to live with – this I cannot deny.

I am  one of those people who clears the dishes right after the last person puts the last morsel of food into there mouth (this can sometimes feel like an eternity with an 8 year old). I am the person who packs the dishwasher as I am cooking – just so that I can work in an ordered environment. I am the person who brushes their teeth and wipes down the bathroom bench top at the same time. I am the person who cannot climb under the bed covers during the day if I decide to have a rest – bedcovers are only going to sleep at night you see. I cannot go to bed and sleep peacefully with a  kitchen piled with dishes. I like my knee rugs and table tops to be neatly arranged when I lie my head down on my plumped pillow at night. I agonise over which pen to write with as I like a really fine nib that doesn’t “splotch” or mark my papers. I have started hand-written journals a dozen times only to throw them out – what’s authentic about writing in pencil only to rub it out because it is not neat enough or the grammar is questionable. If truth be told, the list goes on and on and it is simply a part of who I am.

I can laugh at these character traits in my personality, it’s my quirks and foibles that make up the person that is me, but, where it becomes a problem is when it impacts on those around me and creates tension, stress and discontentment in them. Over the years I have pushed my husband to strive for bigger and better opportunities, to push himself hard towards that elusive place called success. In reality he was already on that path by his own means, I simply rushed it along at a dizzying speed. This was not all bad, it meant travel, adventure and promotion, but, along with that came stress, discontentment and uncertainty, not the ingredients for the “perfect family life”.  Am I responsible for his success or failure, no, but I am guilty of putting my own measure against it. Unfortunately my pursuit of perfection does not always remain contained in a box just for me.

I have two bright, kind, generous, beautiful children, an intelligent, kind and generous husband. They are not perfect, they are human and fallible just like all of us, but, at times I forget that. I forget that they don’t function on my command, they make their own choices, they do their best, they make their own mistakes, have their own successes. They measure all of this by their own yard stick, not mine.

What I have learnt: Through my journey of introspection, forgiveness and acceptance, I have learnt I have the capacity to accept life as it is. I have learnt that I can only adjust my own behaviour and perception and that everyone else’s is there own, and how they choose to use the life they have been given is not in my control. I have learnt that I can provide a safe, loving, healthy home for my children, so that they may grow into the human beings they choose to be, but I cannot force them to be anything other than themselves. I have learnt that it is possible to truly love someone even if at times, I do not like them. I have learnt that we are all enough.


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When God made me

When God made me he must have laughed
Him, and the angels too
He made me short and rather plain
not lamb, but mutton stew
But he gave me brains and intellect
and a strange bouquet of talent
Blonde hair, blue eyes an upturned nose
and a temper, sometimes violent
He put me on a rocky road, swirling in a storm
but he gave me love and hope and joy
that today still keeps me warm
I realise now, that this small life
has really been a test
to find my faults, my fears, the ways
that I can do my best
So don’t despair, take heed of me
and put your soul to rest
I’m living proof, that when he laughed, he laughed at me, and got it off His chest

By Barbara Thompson

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Alcohol, noun

“a colorless volatile flammable liquid that is the intoxicating constituent of wine, beer, spirits, and other drinks, and is also used as an industrial solvent and as fuel.” – Oxford Dictionary

I had to laugh when I saw the Oxford Dictionary’s definition – doesn’t it make it sound endlessly appealing to sit down with that lovely cabernet or cold beer….

I am not a “big” drinker but neither am I a teetotaller, I would probably have a couple of glasses of wine a month on average so I cannot be defined as a party animal. My experience with alcoholism in my family has clearly defined how I interact with alcohol and the uneasy relationship that I have with it.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties I was a little less controlled, I, like most of my peers, would go out, have too much to drink and feel disastrous the next day. I have great memories of fantastic friends and frivolous parties and I have memories which went on to put in the “well, I won’t be doing that again” basket but memories none the less. Alcohol is a significant part of social interaction in our society, I see this as neither good nor bad, it simply is.

I have found over the years is that how I react and interact with alcohol is dependent on how I am feeling emotionally/mentally. There are times when I can have a couple of glasses of wine and all is well, no nasty reactions, no palpitations, no regret – just a social evening with some friends like “normal” people do. Then there are other times where I have the same number of said beverage and all hell breaks loose – in my head at least, to everyone around me there would be no change, no shift in demeanour, no sense of the impending chaos that my anxiety was about to unleash on me. On one occasion, we had been out with a couple of friends, had a couple of glasses of wine, as I said, a “normal” social family evening. On the way home my daughter casually mentioned that she could smell alcohol (this would later be my trigger).

When we got home the regular routine followed and we all hopped into bed and went to sleep – I then woke up or to be more precise, my anxiety decided that a bright, beautiful quivering panic attack was the way to rip me out of my slumber and so I got up and went to the computer (my therapist had suggested I write) and started to frantically type away with the result being a litany of manic, emotional guilt, shame and regret.

This particular event had been a birthday celebration for me, I look back at it now and feel it was a wasted opportunity to experience and savour a joyful evening simply because my anxiety was so domineering that I didn’t let it give me the space to let me be. This was not the first or the last time that depression/anxiety/panic have limited my ability to experience joy and “seize the day” (more on that to follow). At the time I was still on medication and I had just entered therapy, my head was not in a good space but this was the first time I had ever written down the chaotic thoughts that raced through my head. Even now, over a year later, when I look at what I wrote I find it confronting to know that I was in such a bad space back then, but I also find it comforting to see how far I have come and how much I have to go, no longer feels like an eternity.

I will never be a “big” drinker, I choose not to simply because I don’t like the way it makes my body feel. I try and stay healthy and fit as I believe this is the best path for me to stay mentally healthy. I also know that preconditioning will always influence my perception and interpretation and as such I don’t believe that any two people experience alcohol in the same way.

 What I have learnt: I hope to guide my children to develop healthy views on all aspects of their lives and in my journey in doing this, I hope not to demonise anything but rather educate as much as possible about everything so as to provide them with the tools to make choices and decisions that best serve them.

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I live in a world of manicured gardens, pruned hedges, strong women, professional men and proverbial picket fences – or so it would seem. How much do we know about each other? How involved are we as a community in looking out for each other? When there is gossip it spreads like wildfire, when there is public disaster we all pitch in and do our bit. But what about the stories that aren’t so easy to deal with, the ones that make us look at our own lives a little more closely or make us feel a little too vulnerable – what about the real day to day mess – do we share this, do we ask for help, do we offer help or do we pretend to not see the sadness in someone’s eyes, or notice their absence at school pick up?

I have to wonder what goes on behind those picket fences and draped windows, is it all as perfect as it seems? I am fairly certain it’s not but I do know that we don’t like to rock the boat, we don’t like to stand out in a crowd and we certainly don’t want to be seen as weak. It the last few years there have been deaths, divorce, affairs, abuse, addiction, betrayal in my very small little community. We all have mess in our lives, we all have chaos at some point – perfection does not exist, life is not neat and tidy, relationships are minefields, children are just like us but in smaller bodies with less restraint – life is not picket fence perfect, so why do we keep pretending it is.

When I decided to start writing this blog the name for it was a clear as day “Trying not to disappear”, the specifics of what the blog would be, were not clear. I new I wanted to write about panic, anxiety, depression and hoped to get people talking about their own experiences and in doing so that it would help people to know that they are not alone, that others think, feel and experience the same or at least similar to what they do. But it is not just that, it is much more. My hope is simply to get people talking and sharing their experiences and hopefully helping them not to disappear.

The belief in what I am doing is there, I know it is right for us to talk, to share and to open up but I have also realised how frightening that is through my own journey.

Sharing is not easy, being vulnerable is like Everest to me, but when I owned that and still made the decision to carry on I felt stronger and even though I was still frightened I also saw that nothing fell apart, my life carried on but I was a little less concerned about what people thought because the people who loved me supported me. There is no shame in vulnerability, there is no shame in sadness, there is no shame in loneliness and there is no shame in asking for help or accepting friendship.

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