Tag Archives: am I good enough

Learning to love my body

*Trigger warning* Please note that the following post discusses weight and disordered eating. Please make sure you are in a safe place before reading.

Food and I have had a disordered relationship for a long time. I have used food to punish and to soothe. I have used it to attempt to fill a void and restricted it when I believed I deserved it. I have struggled to see food as just food, instead demonising it and using shame to beat myself with. My weight has yo-yoed many times over the years. read more

Receiving a disability payment isn’t lucky

In September last year I received a letter to say that my Disability Support Pension was being reviewed.  It was the day that I was dreading and it had come at an already stressful time for my family.  I thought that I had missed out on being reviewed, but new measures introduced by the current government meant that I was caught in the net.Receiving this review brought up all of my familiar anxieties about whether or not I deserved the payment.  Was I really sick enough? There were people worse off than me surely.

Of course there was also my phone anxiety to deal with.  I had to make phone calls to organise letters of support for my review.  I felt myself stumbling over the words as I was trying to explain to receptionists what it was that I needed.  I fought with my desire to help them to understand exactly what it was they needed to do, and my feelings that I didn’t deserve this kind of help.

When I was reading through the letters that my treatment team had provided I felt sick.  In black and white was laid out everything that was wrong with me.  I knew that they were talking about my worst days, that these words didn’t define who I was.  However that didn’t stop the feelings of self doubt creeping in.

Was I really this sick?  Did my mental health really have such a far reaching impact on every part of my life?  I watched as the Centrelink worker ticked all of the boxes and saw my disability confirmed.  My mental health was considered a disability.  I was equal parts relieved to have my feelings validated, and despaired that I was still this *bad*.

Applying for a Disability Support Pension is discussed a lot in mental health groups. People ask for advice when reviews and meetings are scheduled.  However there is a common thought that those who a successful are luck to receive the payment.  As if luck has anything at all to do with it.

It’s not lucky that my mental health has been determined to be a disability. It’s not lucky that I have to live with the impairment of a mental illness considered bad enough to be labeled disabling.  It’s not lucky that I feel the crippling effect of anxiety, the despair of depression or the hot rage of my borderline.

Winning the lotto is lucky.  Disability is not.  Finding $50 on the footpath is lucky.  Mental illness is not.  Buying a winning raffle ticket is lucky.  Disability is not lucky.

10 Things I believe deep in my heart

i believe

I haven’t linked up with Kirsty for a few weeks but when I saw that this week was a list prompt I knew that I had to get in on the action.  Lists are my absolute favourite.  I love making lists.  This week the prompt is: 10 Things I believe!

  • One voice is enough is start something.  If there is one thing that I have learned from blogging, it is that words have tremendous power.  One person speaking their truth can be enough to get that ball rolling.  One person can be enough to wake up the beast within.
  • You can disagree with someone and still like them.  This is a new one for me.  Mr 7 starting school has really been the catalyst for this one.  In the past, if I disagreed with someone I often cut them off, never to speak to them again.  That’s just not possible with people you see everyday at a small school.  I don’t always agree with my friends, but I am learning that that is OK.
  • Life is nothing more than a series of baby steps.  When you are making big changes it can feel so overwhelming.  I’m here and where I want to be is all the way over there.  However I have learned that all it takes is one step and I am closer to there.  It doesn’t matter if it’s only a baby step, it’s still a step.
  • There’s no such thing as a backward step in mental health.  Struggling with Black and White Thinking means that I tended to think that feeling a bit down or feeling like I wanted to self harm meant that I was all the way back at square one.  That simply isn’t true.  Sometimes we need to take a step to the side for a while, and that’s OK.
  • I am worthy.  This one I am putting here because I need to, not because I want to.  My psychologist and I are doing Core Beliefs at the moment and one of the hardest was ‘I am worthy’.
  • If the weather report says possibly showers mid morning and early afternoon, it will be at school drop off and pick up.  It usually happens just as I leave the house to catch the bus and stops as soon as I actually get on the bus too.
  • There is no better feeling as a parent who enjoys reading, than sharing a much loved book with your child.  Mr 7 and I have started reading novels as bedtime stories and some of these have included books from my childhood.  I love sharing books that mesmerised me as a child with him.  At the moment we are reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  It’s hard going compared to others we’ve read but he’s enjoying it.
  • Enjoying trashy television doesn’t make you less intelligent.  There seems to be a bit of snobbery getting around about the types of shows that people enjoy watching.  If watching a bunch of rich housewives go about their day makes your heart sing then I’m not about to judge you for it.  It is possible to enjoy television that allows you to tune out, and still be an intelligent person.
  • A child who refuses to eat or sleep doesn’t make you a bad parent, nor does it make your child bad.  Parenting Mr 7 has taught me more than anything, that there are no hard and fast rules of parenting.  What works today, won’t necessarily work tomorrow and forcing a child who is anxious will only equal tears for everyone involved.  Listing to your child’s needs and parenting accordingly doesn’t make you soft either.
  • Having a child has opened my eyes to experiences I had never thought possible before.  I have a superhero loving, science fiction geek, gaming nerd for a son and it has introduced me to books, movies and tv shows that I would have never tried before.  I haven’t always loved them, and some I can’t bear (I’m looking at you Uncle Grandpa and Stampy Cat) but I have also discovered things that I have loved.
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    A day in the life of Anxiety

    A day in the life of anxiety

    Every person has a different experience of anxiety and how it impacts their life.  For a long time I didn’t think that I had anxiety.  It wasn’t until I was writing a short story a few years ago, that I realised I did.  Reading another post made me see that my anxiety was manifesting itself as anger.  I thought I had an anger problem, when I had an anxiety problem.

    My treatment team ask me what I am anxious about.  I always say everything, because I am too embarrassed to admit exactly what it is.  Then I decided that I needed to take away the power that my anxiety has.  I want to talk about the things in my average day that make me anxious.  A problem shared is a problem halved and all that.

    6:15am: My first alarm goes off.  I’m so worried that I will sleep in that I have several alarms set for the morning.  Somehow I still manage to sleep through them on occasion.

    6:30am: On a good day (which isn’t very often lately) I get up at this time.  I get dressed now, worried that I won’t have time later.  Do I look good in this outfit.  Are my pants see through?  Will people look down on me for this outfit?  I didn’t shave my legs this week, I hope no one notices.

    7:50am: Mr 6 doesn’t eat much for breakfast.  If people find out how little he eats they will think that I am denying him food.  I’m overweight, I must be eating the food meant for him instead.  Are we going to make it to the bus in time?  I yell at Mr 6 to hurry up.  What will the neighbours think?  Is that person staring at me?  Will that woman be at the bus stop again?  Why are there so many cars?  It’s too noisy, please stop talking.

    8:10am:  I knew that we were running late.  I’ve obviously missed the bus.  Did I miss that there was some kind of strike today?  We’re going to be late.  I knew that we should have just walked.  It’s so close, why don’t I just walk?

    8:35am:  I need to go now if I want to catch the bus.  Mr 6’s teacher isn’t here yet.  Will he be OK here by himself?  What if he wanders away and no one notices?  Does he think that I don’t care because I leave before his classroom opens?  It’s so noisy, please stop talking to me.

    9:00am:  I will catch the bus to the shops so that people don’t wonder why I bother catching the bus just down the road.  I don’t want to walk, too many people will look at me, too many thoughts will crash through my head.  Why are there so many people here?  I need to get off a stop early but I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.  I’ll put my head down so people can’t see me, but I can feel their eyes boring into me.

    10:00am:  I sigh with relief as I walk in the door.  Finally I am home, I am safe.  I climb into bed, pulling the blankets up under my chin.  After flicking through social media, I set my alarm for 12pm.  I set several alarms because I am so worried that I will sleep too long and leave Mr 6 at school.  I hit snooze multiple times, reluctant to leave the cocoon of sleep.  When I sleep I don’t think.

    1:00pm:  I feel guilty because I haven’t done anything today.  I feel guilty, and defensive so nothing gets done.  I will do it tomorrow.  That day rarely seems to come.  What am I going to cook for dinner?  I don’t know if I will be able to cope if Mr 6 says he doesn’t like it again.  Do I need to go to the shop after school?  People will stare at me.  I should have done something today.  Is Mr 6 OK?  Is he having fun at school?  What if he gets upset and I’m not there to help soothe him?  If he gets scared will there be someone to tell him that everything will be OK?

    2:40:pm    Do these people even like me?  Oh hell why did I say that?  That person looked at me funny, what did I do to them?  I go between enjoying the socialising and wanting it to be over.  I know that I will spend hours later combing through these conversations.  Did I say something stupid?  Why do I let myself get involved?  I need to press the button to get off the bus, but I don’t want to cause any trouble.  A driver said something under his breath, obviously it was about me.

    8:00pm:  Tomorrow I will be better.  I won’t yell, I will get out of the house and I won’t let the anxiety get to me.  Tomorrow I won’t live inside my own head.  Tomorrow I won’t second guess myself.  Tomorrow I will be a better person, a better mother, a better friend and a better partner.  Tomorrow never comes.

    Maybe next time I think about the things that cause me to feel anxious they won’t feel so scary after all.  Maybe these words will take the sting out of them.

    Have you found giving a voice to your anxieties takes the sting out of them?

    Anxiety and worry are not the same

    anxiety is not worry

    It has come to my attention that some people seem to think that the words worry and anxiety can be interchangeable.  Nope.  They aren’t the same at all.  One is a fleeting thought, while the other is a debilitating mental illness.

    Yesterday, I read this post which told the story of one woman’s experience with untreated post natal anxiety.  Eva has also shared her story here on my blog.  The post also went on to discuss the impact that a Facebook post could have had on an anxious new mum.

    I haven’t seen the post in question myself, but the excerpts I read were quite alarming.  The post made the declaration that all mothers felt anxious.  It then went on to say that this anxiety was proof that you understood the worth of your baby.

    It’s possible that this post came from a place of support, that the author wanted to offer a place of solidarity.  However I worry that these words, and the assurance that anxiety is something everyone feels, will prevent some new mothers from seeking help.  I am concerned that someone who is dealing with the irrational thoughts that anxiety brings, will see those words and feel like they don’t need help after all.

    It appears that with the rise in awareness around depression and anxiety, people have now begun using these words flippantly.  Sadness is not the same as depression and worry is not the same as anxiety.  However these words still seem to be interchanged frequently.

    Worry is a natural response to something that makes you fearful, a new experience or something stressful.  It is often a fleeting feeling, like butterflies in your stomach before you start a new job.  Worry is not a prolonged feeling, and doesn’t impact on your ability to live your life.  

    Anxiety on the other hand is a prolonged state of stress.  Anxiety is a set of irrational beliefs about yourself and the world around you.  It is not like having butterflies in your stomach, it is like having a punch to the stomach.  Anxiety becomes a problem when it impacts your ability to live your life and interact with those around you.

    When Mr 6 was a newborn I didn’t struggle with anxiety.  I struggled with depression, despair and a complete lack of confidence in my ability as a loving mother.  I often thought that I wasn’t the right mother for my son, and that he would be better off without me.  If I had read that post in those early days it would have been another failing with which I could beat myself with.

    I didn’t feel anxious about my son.  Therefor my irrationally negative mind would have told me that I failed to see his worth.  It would be one more example of how I was failing him as a mother.  I would not have felt supported by that post, I would have felt ostracized.  I wonder how many other women read that post and felt the same way?

    Staying mentally well, especially when the hormones of being a new mother are in play, is so important.  Telling women that every single mother experiences anxiety, when the word you are looking for is worry, could lead to some women not seeking help when they so desperately need it.

    It’s important to talk about our experiences as new mothers, but it’s also important to be aware of the impact those words can have.  Be mindful that when you are trying to create an inclusive space, that you aren’t draping a blanket over very real issues.

    Worrying that the jumpsuit you dressed your baby in isn’t warm enough is normal.  Being too scared to leave the house in case your baby is killed, is not.  One of those scenarios is worry, the other is an irrational thought created by anxiety.

    It does awareness a disservice when the names of serious mental illnesses are used for regular human emotion ranges.  It is already so hard to get society to take mental illness seriously, please don’t further discredit people’s experiences by telling them that everyone feels depressed and has anxiety.

    Did you suffer with anxiety when your baby was born?

    Do you think that an increase in awareness has created a flippancy around mental health terms?