Monday, November 29, 2010

For a Friend

Sitting in her art space at Curtin University, she is a poster child of an alternative generation. Blazing red hair, facial piercings, amazing art work surrounding her and an increasingly common sight adorning her skin, self inflicted scars. As she takes another brush from the table she stairs at the empty canvas and knows that within the next few hours she will transform the blinding white surface into a piece of art that her peers will applaud, her audience will admire and her friends will be proud of.

Anti psychotics are fresh in her system and she will feel them running through her veins until evening, just in time to dope herself up again before bed. This morning when she woke up she didn’t have any new plans to paint, she barely had plans to arise. That’s nothing new though; she had given up on planning long ago. Stability is one of the first things to go when it comes to mental illness. How can one be expected to make plans for Thursday week when she has no idea where her headspace will be at on that day?

I ask her is she feels understood. She pauses for a long minute and then looks at me,

“No” she says.

“People try to understand but sometimes I wish they wouldn’t because they just get it all so wrong, you can’t understand unless you have lived it.”

Her list of diagnosis’ read like a run sheet of modern day mental health; Depression, anxiety, bulimia, post traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder and Poly substance abuse, to name a few. With over 50 visits to the emergency room and at least 10-15 admissions to mental health clinics, she knows all to well the labels she wears to warn society that she is not one of them.

The nurses always ask the same questions and make the same assumptions, an overdose on pills is written in her notes as a “suicide attempt” but She tells me they have got it wrong,

“It’s just a rest” she says.

“I don’t want to die, I just want to sleep for a while until it doesn’t hurt anymore” She has known the awful touch of naked men. Wondered aloud and in silent if “no” ever really means “no”, and watched as she slides blades against her skin and blood streams down her arm taking her to a state of euphoria where she can be cleansed from her transgressions and numbed to her loss of innocence. But they don’t ask that question, they don’t care if she said no, she watches time and again as they look through her charts and scribble the word “promiscuous.”

I watch her as she continues to create, to paint, and to inspire. Her work is mostly autobiographical and writes a story that words could never do justice to “If people can walk away from my art work connected to it in some way than I have done my Job. I will know that my experiences haven’t gone to waste.” And as I look at the painting before me, I assure you, one cannot help but connect.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Take 400?

You lied
I believed
I broke

You lied
I believed
I broke

You lied
I believed
I broke

You lied
I didn't believe

I still broke

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Within moments of pressing "publish" on my last post my side table was already lighting up with Text messages. (and that's saying a lot, it was 1am)
All through the next day I was inundated with texts of support, hope, friendship and love, my facebook inbox wasn't safe either, my Iphone was vibrating the crap out of my boobs as it sat in my bra at work.

As people came from the woodworks to hold my hand through this time, i realised a community I had long forgotten existed. It seems the saying is true, its the ones you least expect that step up in times of need.

In the beginning I was sad, afraid to do it all alone. I suddenly felt my singleness a lot, no boy to hold my hand or dry my tears. I felt lonely in the midst of it, but after the last 2 days and the love that has been showered upon me I realise I don't do this alone, I do it with an army of people armed with ice creams, words of encouragement, prayers and laughter.

The world goes on and mine will to.
It must.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A broken heart isn't always metaphorical.

I sat in the doctors surgery as I had done many times before, smilling and chatting as he poked and prodded and asked me how I felt. Everything was normal, just a cardiac checkup I've been having for years until he told me to take a seat.

The look on his face changed as the words streamed from his lips. Everything became slow motion and I tried desperately to follow along..

"Obviously you are not showing any symptoms... yet.. its not good news... new tests... I'll discuss with colleagues... heart has failed... this never normally happens... OPEN HEART SURGERY." eyes welled up with tears, alone I came to this appointment and alone I left, crying, confused, in shock. The next two days were a blur of tears and my attempts to push away everyone I held dear. Sadly in some cases it worked.

Today, a week and a half after the news, I went for my first lot of tests. Needles, drugs, a scary machine and lonely rooms filled with nothing but radiation and my fears. I watch as the all to familiar scene begins, everyone walking on egg shells so as not to disturb the dance we all take part in, the steps that tell us it isn't really that bad.