For the past three years I’ve had trouble with accepting gifts, particularly for my birthday. I’m not sure exactly the reasons behind this but it must stem from feelings of unworthiness, wanting to be small, discrete and invisible. I suspect this has been a symptom of my eating disorder and co-morbid conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Yesterday, I opened three years worth of birthday cards and presents. It was incredibly overwhelming and took a great deal of time. It was hard to accept so much love in one go after I’d been avoiding it for so long, but it does prove that even if you’ve been out of the social loop for some time, people don’t forget you.
Depression manifests in different ways, interrupting the lives of each individual it plagues. Yet, it is not uncommon to feel flat, numb or distant from everything that is going on around you.
Unfortunately, while depression is relatively well known and to and extent, understood, it is too often trivialised by those having a bad day or people who are frustrated and unmotivated. Subsequently, those experiencing genuine bouts of clinical depression feel ashamed or silly to be struggling with the disease. In a piece published by the Modern Woman’s Survival Guide today, I wrote about the misuse of the word depression and the trivialisation of the condition. You can read it here.
The truth is, it is likely that someone close to you is in the throws of depression. Be there to support them. They are unlikely to ask for help but just having you by their side will provide them with some solace and peace, a welcome antidote to the dark waves crashing heavily in their mind.
Thank you to all those who have done so for me.
The response I received on my previous post has been overwhelming. All your words of wisdom have been gratefully appreciated. This is only the beginning of a long, complex journey towards recovery, but my word stands: it will be worth it.
I had an amazing birthday yesterday. I was incredibly spoilt by my parents, family and friends. A week ago, nobody would have believed I’d have been home to celebrate but with the support of those around me, home I was. Thank you to everyone who made contact and gave me their well wishes. It means an enormous amount to have you all by my side. Here’s to an exciting year of growth ahead.
A mere portion of the gifts I received. I now live in a florist!
I have been stuck at the age of 16 for four years and despite the passing of the days, I’ve not become any older. Remaining four years my junior has deprived me of life opportunities and experiences typical of teenage and young adult life. It has prevented me from living like my friends do; drinking, going out, meeting boys and having fun with my friends. It has challenged my ability to enjoy being with other people including family and friends. If I gave up my eating disorder, I would be able to socialize more. I would be more open and able to take up opportunities and possibilities that may come my way in terms of socializing, academic pursuits and other activities.
I have been living an isolated, lonely life, far from others and their experiences. I have been completely disengaged and disturbed by my own thoughts and subsequent actions. I have felt guilty upon eating anything outside my minutely planned meals and struggle even with going out for breakfast. I have found it hard to look at the food in front of my without thinking about where it will be found later, located on a certain part of my body. These payoffs are working against me fully and completely. All the payoffs are negative for ESTHER. The only positive payoffs relate to my eating disordered self, where I feel as though I am in control, have control, have tight reigns over my appearance and my lifestyle. In reality, I don’t. It’s Ana. Ana has held her grip on me for years and years now and it is finally time I let go.
Call me crazy, call it what you want. But you have no idea how tough this shit is until you’ve experienced it yourself. And I would never wish this upon anyone.
Tomorrow, I turn 20 years old. And I am home. So I’m going to do it for myself. I can’t deserve this life of shame, heartache and pain. I deserve to be happy. I need to, and everyone should stop worrying about how thin your legs look. It will be hard and extremely challenging but in the end, it will be worth it. Clothes are supposed to FIT. They are not meant to be loose or baggy. They are meant to show off healthy curves and a shapely body. Stick figures are not the ideal. I need to eat to nourish my body. I will eat to nourish my body and my soul.
I will be there to advocate for a better life for all those who suffer. I want to work to help others suffering from mental illness to have a voice, to speak up and to be heard. Reduce stigma and seek out a positive future. I’ve been told that it’s possible. And tonight, I finally believe that it is.
Start of a better life.
The lines from St V’s are straight and lit
Quite different to those lines being shot down on the streets below
My lines are bright and artificially blown
Showing buildings and houses below
The lines from my window are straight
They’re not blockades
Not blockages but a way forward
Further and outwards, in wards, left and right
The lines are blatant and obvious
Parallels, squares, right-angled
Little ant cars move slowly down the artificially blown pathways
The lines visible from 8 up at St V’s.
Player Three: Fee’s already dropped Ben off at school for swimming practice and Bec at before-school sports tennis training before getting on the 7:16 at Greensborough. She’s relieving at the moment which kind of suits her. The agencies usually call early in the morning when she’s already awake taking the kids off to their respective sports and she enjoys being with kids. As Ben and Bec grow up, Fee knows she’s going to struggle with letting go and so teaching has already been of help to her in this regard. When her ex, Buck, moved out three years ago, things were rough. Centrelink was contacted and unfortunately, thanks to the government at the time, were not all that helpful. But Fee’s thankful that she now has her life at least somewhat sorted.
She’s started seeing a guy called Bill (how many Bs can a girl have before it’s bad luck?) a few months ago. He’s a sports teacher at one of the local primary schools Fee temps at and he’s a really good-hearted guy with a sweet, personable nature. He’s slept over a couple of times and gets on well with the kids. He’s helped take them to practice early in the morning when Fee’s wanted a sleep in too, which always goes down well.
Fee’s working this morning at a local secondary college just a few stops down the train line. She’s mainly a maths and junior-secondary science teacher, but every now and then she gets asked to cover a music class or two. Music works well with maths and science, her mind likes the logic, the rhyme and reasons behind each of her crafts (or sciences, depending on how you look at it). She loves counting out the bars, clapping rhythms and beating her palm against a drum, getting some control over her thoughts and her emotions.
Fee takes her lunch usually as staff rooms at public schools aren’t known for their generous hospitality. Today’s package (prepared “incasa” as Bec used to always say) includes a vegemite sandwich, some celery sticks with peanut butter for dipping, a slice of camembert cheese for desert and an apple and banana for the train rides to and from home. Fee savours that thick swab of Camembert like you’ve no idea. Thank goodness for the French.
But she’s made her train just in time. Who knows what naughty children the day holds for Fee, but she’s settled and contented with her life at that point, and that’s all that matters.
Player Two: The train arrives at Diamond Creek Station at 7:02 and leaves less than a minute later. Cherrie recognises the remnants of the recent Diamo Fair that have left their litter-filled marks across the oval and the local area. McDonalds is already buzzing, each blue-collar tradie getting his morning fix of Bacon and Egg McMuffin to chew on as he hygienically chuffs his cig at the same time, that signature blend of a flat white with a dash of bacon-y dope.
Cherrie’s made sure the kids lunches were done the night before. After a big barbeque weekend with too much off too little spent on fairy floss and cheap show rides, leftovers are piled into slices of wonder white sandwiches slathered with Flora margarine and Coles salad mix. We make do in the Taylor household. Mr Taylor is one of the aforementioned tradies and he runs his own life, and as it seems to be increasingly, his own finances. He brings in what he brings in and he spends it at the races, the TAB, on silly greyhound bets and on drinks and grub. Add tobacco on top of that and thanks-so-much-for-contributing-to-the-family, Billy.
But having the family over on the weekend was nice. Big family, close neighbourhood, big families within big families living in big courts and big (cheap) standard housing. You get more for what you pay for out here. Why else do you think we chose out here?
Leftover pulled pork with mustard and salad greens for Danny, still young enough to actually eat the lunch his mother packs him. Johnny wants four dollars for a Four-n-Twenty meat pie from the tuck shop. I told him those four dollars will be coming out of his weekly pocket money and the response is always just the same ‘yeah yeah’ and is gratified, when it never does. Katheryn likes vegemite on wonder white but I try and put in some pulled pork on the side to give her a bit of a midday protein hit. She needs it at her age. So young, still growing, so vulnerable…
But up at 6:30, out of bed after one snooze at 6:35, a quick dressing routine into casual flats and a black business-y-looking Savers suit and an Up & Go on the way out the door. Strawberry flavour today. She’s up at the station in time to add another $10 to her myki pass and settle into a forward-facing four-seated allotment, ready with her iPod in ears and phone in hand incase one of the kids has a crisis on the way to school and need her helps figuring out whose lunch is whose, where the clean undies are or something of the sort.
Player One: To get in the car to drive to the station to find the park to buy the ticket, to top up the myki to touch on and get on the train at 6:54am, Jack gets up at 5:50am. He’s an early riser. Catches a whiff of the fresh, mountainous air and he’s out of bed. His wife, Lydia, sleeps idly by, a housewife with a life as far from his as any could imagine. Who knows how she keeps herself occupied during his time at work? Jack sure doesn’t know. Sure, when the kids were younger and at home she at least had driving duties – to soccer, to the slumber party, to the calisthenics club based at the Eltham YMCA. But, now? No idea.
Up at 5:50. Jumps on the stationary bike for halfa’ at 5:52, breaking a sweat by 6:06 thanks to Les Mills and his pre-programming of a man’s programed morning. Jumps off and straight into the shower at 6:22, out by 6:25. Always one for water saving, especially when you’re living on such luscious land as Jack is. A good 10 minutes are dedicated to donning on a clean, freshly pressed – ah, there’s something Lydia does well during their mutually exclusively-lived lives – navy blue business suit. Pin-striped pale blue shirt and straight, thin, navy tie. Finished off by freshly polished and dusted black Jack London tie-up work shoes. Who said Jack London’s only for the young? Not Jack.
In the car by 6:36. Down the long, greenly decadent driveway that circles their semi-mansion before traversing down the long track to the automatic gates at the opening of their private estate.
Down the road, a few rights and a left turn. A park, perfectly timed and just waiting for his sparkling Beemer. A perfect trip.
A myki topped up thanks to online automatic transfers a la internet overnight works and the briefcase picked up by the door just beside the garage and the car is filled in files and piles of sheets necessary to complete the tasks of the day, just like a CEO of a major rural transportation company should be. Lunch will be provided at desk and a breakfast meeting in the CBD’s lawyerly Queen/Elizabeth Street end at one of the nice newly opened organic constructions. A perfect day, all thanks to the 6:54 from Hustbridge station.