8 Things That Help Me Get Through The Blue Days

A while ago I wrote that I’d share a bit more of the not-so-picture-perfect/real side of my life with mental illness… I think that everyone will be affected by mental illness in their lifetimes, be it their own personal suffering, or the suffering of someone they know. It seems to be so much more prevalent these days than generations before; I don’t think it’s because more people are getting sick now, I think it’s just because more people are getting help, which is awesome  : )

But, there are some days that you’re not so keen on talking about your crap to other people and you’d rather help yourself. Everyone has things that work for them; these are the things that work for me when I’m having a bit of a blue day…

 

1. Marley cuddles
Most people who struggle with depression generally know when they wake up if it’s a good day or not; I do, anyway. If it’s a good day, I’m usually out of bed and going for a walk or doing some weight training. If it’s not such a good day, Marley usually knows and makes himself very available for a cuddle. Studies have also shown that hugging a pet can help with depression, so grab your fur baby and snuggle it first thing in the morning before you even try to deal with the day!
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2. Braided hair
I’ve always loved braiding my hair; I think maybe because it takes some time and forces me to slow down for a few minutes. On those days where I feel particularly crap and revolting, even a little side braid pretties up an otherwise boring ponytail exponentially and makes you feel a little better, especially when people comment on how nice your hair looks. It’s like my own little self-love ritual  : )
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3. Security-blanket clothes
I know it’s not a real term, but it’s one that I use a lot. My security blanket clothes are the clothes that I feel good in. They’re the ones that don’t make me feel self-conscious because they’re tight fitting or brightly coloured or too over the top. They’re pieces like my old, torn, blue jeans, my hooded red flannelette shirt, my over-sized white striped t-shirt, my denim shorts, my Hogwarts cardigan from London, my black and white long-sleeved floral printed swing dress, my brown leather lace up boots or my chucks. Crap day = wear a security-blanket piece.
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4. Walk
Exercise is always recommended for people struggling with depression, but it doesn’t always have to be intense exercise; walking will do just fine, and I walk every day. Some days it’s a 5km walk before work with the husband and the fur baby. Some days it’s an after dinner stroll. Some days it’s getting off the train a few stations early and walking to the office the long way. Some days it’s all of the above. Even when you feel like absolute shit, fresh air is so, so important.
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5. Lunch break cuppa & read
Pretty much every day. I cannot be stuck in an office all day, every day; I don’t know how other people do it. I eat my lunch at my desk while I’m working, and spend my lunch break most days drinking tea and reading a book at a cafe. I know it’s a bit of a waste to pay for tea when it’s just boiled water, a splash of milk and a tea bag, but I look at it more as investing a few dollars rent each day into my well being. If a $4 cup of tea and time to read is what’s gonna get me through the day, that’s not a waste of money. At the same time, that’s also why I always BYO lunch!
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6. Music
There are a few things I never leave the house without having in my handbag; a notepad and pen, a book to read, and my iPod. Music has always been incredibly important to me and has always played a big part in my life. I listen to my iPod on the way to and from work, and all day at work – on a bad day, the silence is too painful, especially in a big office. My go-to playlist is a compilation of a few Trombone Shorty albums, a few Rebirth Brass Band albums, the Treme soundtracks, and a few other random New Orleans jazz tunes. Works every. Single. Time.
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7. Easy dinner
I love cooking; it relaxes me. But on the days where the disordered eating and food-related anxiety is at a horrible high, having food prepared and ready to go after dinner is so important. For that reason, I have a freezer full of frozen meals – once a week, I make a meal that is cheap and easy to cook in bulk and freeze, like my 6 ingredient fried rice. That way, if I wake up and know it’s gonna be a hard one, I just have to take dinner our of the freezer to defrost while I’m at work and it’s ready to be re-heated when I get home.
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8. Write
Always. Every single day. I have since the day I learnt to write, I will until my old fingers can no longer hold a pen.
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Tea time: Rustica, Melbourne – and overcoming disordered eating

Rustica Sourdough Bakery
402 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
http://rusticasourdough.com.au/

I was sitting at Rustica last Sunday with a pot of tea and my husband’s coffee and a Milo cronut in front of me, thinking about how much things have changed over the past year.

While I’m pretty open about my depression & anxiety issues, the disordered eating side of the dice isn’t something I speak about much. I think maybe because of my background (I studied exercise science at uni, worked as a personal trainer for a decade and was a half decent martial artist who represented her state in competition) I feel like I should have been stronger or more immune to it. Like I should have known better than to buy into the self hatred and dysmorphia and media-induced insecurities. Fool; if anything, I think it just made me even more susceptible. I guess it’s those same reasons that have me referring to it as “disordered eating” rather than a straight up “eating disorder;” there are other big reasons for this as well, but nothing I can go into without pissing certain people off..

Anyway, without getting into it all too much, because honestly, it’s not particularly easy to talk about just yet, one of the things I’ve struggled with the most is exercise. If I don’t work out every day to balance out what I eat, that’s failure. If I’m going out for dinner after work (a very rare occurance these days), I need to be up early to fit in a good hour workout before work. If we’re doing weekend brunch, there’s no time to sleep in – even a 10am brunch date means a 7.30am alarm to get in a good workout first. Needless to say, it’s exhausting. Part of the recovery plan was to cut myself a bit of slack around the workouts and not see them as punishment for eating… That’s been WAY harder than it should be!

Anyway, this particular Sunday, the challenge was placed before me; go out for breakfast, THEN have a cup of tea & a nibble a few hours later, without getting up early to workout and also without a meltdown/freak out. Challenge accepted. Infinitely easier with the husband by my side.

You saw the breakfast portion of the morning last week, at Sir Charles, which was absolutely spectacular. Because we were in my favourite part of Melbourne, we took a nice, long walk around the streets of Brunswick & Collingwood so I could check out my favourite vintage shops, stock up on tea at Aunt Maggie’s. Then, a visit to Rustica. My suggestion because I love this place & still hadn’t taken the husband there to try a cronut!

The breads and pastries are actually picture perfect (as demonstrated by the never ending iPhone-wielding crowds by the front door), and taste every bit as good as they look. We noticed one last Milo cronut sitting in the display case and snapped that up, much to the disappointment of the couple behind us (sorry… not sorry, it was amazing), along with a pot of tea and a coffee.  Tea, coffee and cronut all magnificent – that cronut in particular! So big and rich and creamy, you’d most likely be a little unwell if you have a dodgy stomach like me and still ate the lot, so it was good to share! It’s also a beautiful space to spend a bit of time in if you want to just chill out alone and maybe read or write, or draw in a sketch book, day dream, or reflect on where you’re at in life at the moment… Plenty of natural light, a great spot for people watching, smells amazing because it’s a bakery, that comforting Fitzroy vibe (just the right mix of hipster and boho and real), friendly staff who give you your space to do your thing, and amazing cronuts. Have you got a good egg in your life that has your back no matter what? Take them out for a cronut this week to say thank you  : )

Eat here: favourites revisited – Rockwell & Sons, Nieuw Amsterdam and Shortstop Donuts, Melbourne

Wednesday afternoon – congratulations friends, we made it past half way this week already! And honestly, if you’d asked me on Monday night, I wasn’t even sure I’d get to Tuesday arvo! Remember back on Monday when I said it was gonna be a long, trying week? Well, yup…

Monday night saw me teaching my second class at Laneway Learning, which was scary, but I got through it! And hopefully I was able to help some fellow FODMAPpers enjoy their sweet treats while looking after their stomachs 🙂 Last night was an even tougher one – I realised last week that I was starting to go under again, so I pulled on my big girl pants, and made an appointment to see a new psychologist who specialises in eating disorders, because if I’m being honest with myself (if I’m feeling really ballsy, I might even try to write a bit about it), that’s something I really need help with. And it’ll be really nice to have someone on my side to help!

Not that I’m totally alone right now – I’m one of those lucky clichéd bitches who can honestly say they married their best friend. Over a decade together, and I can truly say that he has always been there. He’s seen me at my best, but also at my worst. He’s knows me better than my friends, my sisters, my parents, anyone. When he sees me struggling, he reminds me that more often than not, I’m actually strong enough to fight my own battles. But if I start to drown, he’s there, without hesitation, questions or judgement, to scoop me up and bring me back. It’s never been an option for him not to support me; I shudder to think of how things would have ended up for me without him.

But here we are, two best friends who love each other to bits, occasionally shit each other to tears, and wouldn’t want to spend a weekend in the sunshine eating good food with anyone else! As I wrote on Monday, Melbourne stepped up with a beautiful, sunny spring weekend – we kicked it off with pancakes in our backyard on Saturday morning, and visited a few favourite spots over the rest of the weekend for some backyard exploration and some amazing eats.

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I haven’t written a heap about the disordered eating portion of my current shit storm, but basically I’m dealing with a bingeing/throwing up/restricting cycle. Over the weekend I wanted to just enjoy some down time with my husband and some good food sans guilt, so I challenged myself to eat at some of our favourite spots without overindulging, without bingeing, without feeling the need to throw up afterwards or restrict my food the next day. Mission mostly successful, food completely delicious, and still highly recommending these places upon second blog reviews! Here’s how the weekend played out on the plate…

 

Rockwell & Sons
288 Smith St, Collingwood
http://www.rockwellandsons.com.au/

Original review: March 2014
Re-visits since:
three
Order this:
There’s really only one thing you can order here – the double patty smash burger ($12).

We tried adding bacon this time around, but it was actually pretty disappointing – super dry and cardboardy. This is one of the rare burgers that actually does not need bacon to improve it. It can’t be improved. Just order it as is, and enjoy the magic that is a truly perfectly smashed patty. Oh, and don’t forget the fries with the malt vinegar aioli… wow.

Rockwell and Sons Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 


Nieuw Amsterdam
106 – 112 Hardware St, Melbourne
http://www.nieuwamsterdam.com.au/

Original review: June 2014
Re-visits sinc
e: three
Order this: the lunch menu is amazing at the moment. Get a Cubano sandwich ($12) piled up with pork, ham, swiss cheese, mustard and pickles on a perfectly soft and yet still somehow crunchy roll. And add chips for $3.00.

Also, seeing as they do BBQ particularly well, get yourself a meat tray – we went with a large serving of brisket ($13) + a small serving of ribs ($9) served with fries, slaw, pickle and a few slices of super perfect bread (+ $6).

Still a favourite place of mine. Also, try the cheeseburger – you won’t be disappointed!

Nieuw Amsterdam Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 


Shortstop Coffee & Donuts
12 Sutherland St, Melbourne
https://www.short-stop.com.au/

Original review: October 2014
Re-visits sinc
e: three
Order this: everything. Order everything. Just get all of the donuts. This particular visit entailed a whiskey maple bacon raised donut ($4.50), which we both agreed was the best, best donut either of us had ever had. And if you’re a regular around here, you know I eat a fair few donuts. Light. Fluffy. Soft. Perfect.

Also, a cake style peanut butter, caramel and chocolate donut ($4.50). Chocolate cake donut. Gooey salted PB caramel. Salted peanuts atop chocolate frosting. It was like a cakey Snickers, but better.

Yes, I know, $9.00 for two donuts! So extravagant! So much money for dessert! SO WORTH IT!!! And you just won’t get it until you try them, so just go and do it this week – take my word for it, you will not regret spending that donut money!

Shortstop Coffee & Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

 

Now, how can you possibly have a bad weekend when you’re enjoying food like that in the sunshine with your best friend?!

Cook this: fluffy chocolate protein & almond meal pancakes (low FODMAP). AKA dust yourself off & try again (& again) breaky.

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One step forward, two steps back.
Fall seven times, stand up eight.
If plan A doesn’t work, there are still 25 letters to go through.
If at first you don’t succeed…
And so on and so forth.

Fair warning – this isn’t just a recipe post, it’s also a bit of a it’s-my-blog-and-I-need-to-get-some-shit-off-my-chest-because-writing -is-my-outlet post. Feel free to scroll to the bottom if you’re just here for the recipe; it’s so delicious I won’t be offended!

Anyway, let’s not sugar coat it; it’s been a rough few weeks. I’ve been slowly but surely sliding back into that deep, black hole. I’ve been anxious and skittish and completely on edge. I’ve spent nights crying my eyes out, nights with no sleep, nights forcing myself to throw up everything I’ve just binged on, nights panicking and heart fluttering. And then, after maybe 4 or 5 hours of very broken sleep, dragging my ass out of bed at 5:30am to exercise for an hour before going to work and trying to keep my mask intact and my shit together  until I can go home and briefly let my guard down again. But not too much and not for too long, because I’ve got too much to do. That’s one of my go-to coping mechanisms; the more I feel myself slipping, the more I commit and over commit to. I try to keep myself too busy to actually stop and think about what’s going on, to stop and acknowledge that I’m struggling and to deal with it. I’m not saying that’s the right thing to do, because each time this happens I inevitably crash and burn and breakdown. But until then, I just keep going.

I know that inevitable crash and burn is coming; I can feel it. But it’s kinda hard to stop and acknowledge the problems and to deal with it all before we get back to breaking point – I just don’t have time for it! Dealing with this stuff isn’t something you can just do on a Saturday afternoon and bounce back by Sunday so you’re ready to go back to work on Monday, and I can’t just take a week off work while I cry and panic and seek professional help to get my shit back together! So until I can come up with a better plan, as a temporary measure, I’m trying to at least slow things down a little more on my weekends.

Saturday mornings so far this year have involved husband getting up early and jetting off to coach his footy team, while I get up at the same time and hit the gym, followed by breaky and getting on with my day. But with footy season finally over, the Melbourne spring sun shining, and the end of a really rough week all through which my man stepped up (yet again) and had my back without hesitation, I figured Saturday morning was the perfect morning to finally slow things down a little and sit out in the sunshine with some pancakes 🙂

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OK, recipe time now. We’re both a bit obsessed with NuZest’s chocolate protein, as you may have noticed in some of my other recipes, so I thought I’d look for a recipe I could make using protein powder. A ton of recipes involved mashed bananas (*gag*), so I kept scrolling – I eventually came across this one at Move, Nourish, Believe, but I didn’t totally love it… I screwed around with it a little and nailed the ultimate light and fluffy protein pancake! And the best part? Still low FODMAP! So happy!!

What you’ll need for pancakes for 2:
– ⅔ cup plain flour (use gluten free if needed)
– ¼ cup almond meal
– ¼ cup protein flour
– 1 tsp baking powder
– ½ cup milk (I like almond)
– 2 eggs
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 2 tbsp maple syrup
– 2 tbsp vegetable oil
– a little butter or oil of choice to cook with

Cook ’em up…
1. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, almond meal, protein powder and baking powder) in a large bowl.

2. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (milk, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup and vegetable oil).

3. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry. If it’s too runny, add a little more flour; if it’s too dry, add more milk.

4. Heat a non-stick fry pan over medium heat, and add a little oil or butter to coat the pan. Add about a quarter cup of batter at a time to the pan, and cook for a few minutes – until bubbles start to form.

5. Once you see bubbles, flip your pancakes and cook for another minute or so, until both sides are golden. Serve up with your choice of toppings – we went with some plain yoghurt, toasted cacao nibs, goji berries, shredded coconut, fresh berries, maple syrup and homemade lemon curd (husband’s favourite).

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So the pancakes were absolutely delicious, and the sun just kept on shining over the weekend (yes, Melbourne!) 🙂 This week is going to be a testing one, but before it all kicked off this morning I was lucky enough to spend a fantastic weekend with the husband, hanging around some of my favourite areas like Collingwood and the little city laneways I love so much, discovering some new shops and street art, and enjoying (actually enjoying) some really good food (disordered eating challenge for the weekend was eating at some of our favourite spots without it spiraling out of control into a binge/throw up/starve myself cycle). Pop back again later this week for more on the favourites we re-visited over the weekend and food porn to go with it; until then, thanks for stopping by and listening to my vent, I feel much better now and am all ready to face the first big challenge of the week tonight – stay tuned, more on that tomorrow!

Read this: Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Reasons To Stay Alive
Matt Haig

I don’t even know how or where to start in describing such an incredible important book… HUGE thank you to Paula from @booksfordessert for  recommending this one!

Basically, Matt Haig, like so many other people, was suffering from depression. He got to a point in his life, again like so many others, where he had to make the big decision so many depressives face: do I end my life, or do I battle on? He decided to battle on, and this book is about all the reasons why he did, and maybe some reasons why you should, too.

The problem with most “self-help” books out there is that they’re written by “professionals.” I don’t care how many doctorates you have – if you’ve never actually suffered the agony and torment that is depression, nothing you say is going to be helpful. Because you can’t write it from a place of true understanding. That’s where Matt’s book is different. He isn’t a doctor or “professional;” he’s a real guy who really suffered and really gets it. And he’s one of the lucky ones that have come out the other side.

Personally, I think that if you have suffered from depression or anxiety, or someone you love is struggling with it all (which should cover just about everyone on the planet), this should really be required reading. Why? Because it is a deadly, nasty disease:

Suicide is now – in places including the UK and US – a leading cause of death, accounting for over one in a hundred fatalities. According to figures from the World Health Organization, it kills more people than stomach cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, colon cancer, breast cancer, and Alzheimer’s. As people who kill themselves are, more often than not, depressives, depression is one of the deadliest diseases on the planet. It kills more people than most other forms of violence – warfare, terrorism, domestic abuse, gun crime – put together… Yet people still don’t think depression really is that bad.

So what should we do? Talk. Listen. Keep adding to the conversation… Keep reiterating, again and again, that depression is not something you have to ‘admit to,’ it is a human experience. It is not you, it is simply something that happens to you. And something that can often be eased by talking. Where talk exists, so does hope.

This book is brilliant, because it’s written in a way that can be understood, whether you’re being followed by the black cloud or not. This particular passage is a good start:

It’s hard to explain depression to people who haven’t suffered from it. It’s like explaining life on earth to an alien. The reference points just aren’t there.

The main thing is the intensity of it. It does not fit within the normal spectrum of emotions. When you are in it, you are really in it. You can’t are outside it without stepping outside of life, because it is life. It is your life. Every single thing you experience is filtered through it. Consequently, it magnifies everything. At its most extreme, things that an everyday normal person would hardly notice have overwhelming effects.

For me, this book was particularly poignant because of the incredible similarities and parallels I drew to my life – he speaks about how some depressives use travel as a means of alleviating the pain, which I’ve found to be incredible true, and have written about a little here. The other thing that’s been a massive part of my life and that’s always gotten me through the worst times (and this goes back as early as five year old me who had paralysing nightmares and what I now recognise as mini child-sized anxiety attacks) is words. Pure and simple. Reading and writing has been my lifeline. And Matt touches on this perfectly:

There is this idea that you either read to escape or you read to find yourself. I don’t really see the difference. We find ourselves through the process of escaping.

One cliche attached to bookish people is that they are lonely, but for me books were my way out of being lonely. If you are the type of person who thinks too much about stuff then there is nothing lonelier in the world than being surrounded by a load of people on a different wavelength.

This book arrived on my doorstep at such a perfect time (while I’m not religious or superstitious or anything like that, I do believe that the universe has a way of giving you exactly what you need exactly when you need it); September is testing me. I’m struggling a LOT right now with my mental health. We just had R U OK? Day which I wrote about last week, and am really hoping helped even just one person out there. My Don’t be a D.N.B. shirt (proceeds of which went to Didi Hirsch who work in mental health for women, and particularly body image issues) arrived on a day where disordered eating was at an all time high (or low, I guess). And we’re also in the midst of Liptember, which is a campaign held in September to raise funds and more importantly awareness for women’s mental health by wearing some brightly coloured lippy – I’m horrible with lipstick (make up in general really – all I own is mascara, some eye shadow I was gifted for a Christmas 8 odd years ago, and some eye liner I don’t know how to apply and have therefore only used twice), but I’m donning the bright red on my more confident days this month!

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If you’re struggling, if you know someone who’s struggling, if you want to try to understand this deadly disease a little better, please pick up a copy of this book – it will only take you a few hours to read, and you never know what difference it might make 🙂

 

Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be? [Escape part 2]

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Well? Can you? That’s one of the big questions I’ve had on my mind this weekend.

I’ve tried to be pretty blunt and honest lately about what I’ve been going through because a) it’s my blog and given that it doubles as a type of journal for me, I can write about whatever I want, b) there’s more to me than passport stamps and hamburgers, and c) I want something good to come out of this struggle, and if only one single other person reads this and decides to fight on, it’ll be worth it.

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So, this weekend, I took off. I left the real world on Friday morning, and made my way to Warburton. I’m really struggling to deal with everything that’s going on at the moment, and I thought the shit ton of money I’d been spending on psychologist sessions might be better spent booking a room far enough away from it all to give myself the space to mull it all over. There were questions I needed to answer that no professional could have possibly helped with:
– What’s at the heart of all of this pain?
– Who do I want to be? Who could I be without depression?
– Why do I dislike myself so much? Why have I no confidence in myself?
– How have I ended up believing that I’m unworthy of the good stuff in life?
– When and why did I start believing my self worth was directly correlated to my weight and clothing size?
– Who was I before I lost myself? Who was I before I stopped being me and stated trying to be who I thought the world wanted me to be?

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I spent my weekend walking the river trail, eating slowly and mindfully. I meditated, went to cafes alone to enjoy a pot of tea and some time to write, and treated myself to a much needed massage. I wrote, a lot – it helps me to clear my mind and understand myself better. And among other questions I answered and revelations I had, I thought long and hard on that big question: who was I before the world told me who I should be? That’s gotta be one of, if not the hardest question to ask yourself and answer honestly. Who was I?

I was an introvert, that hasn’t changed. But I didn’t care what anyone else thought of it.

I had my dreams and ideas, and never stopped to consider that they might not work out, that they could fail. I just made the things I wanted happen, by myself and for myself.

I was headstrong with the added bonus of not giving a damn about what anyone thought.

I never gave any thought to what I ate, nor what my body looked like. It was never important.

I didn’t surpress my creativity. One of my favourite things to do when my soul was hurting (depression and I go way back, like, literally half my life,) was to go for a long walk with my camera and take photos of whatever caught my eye. I found beauty in the most mundane everyday things, I developed roll after roll of film, and I did it just because it made me happy. So that’s what I did this weekend; I walked and drove and walked some more. I explored out in the fresh air, and when something caught my eye, I stopped and captured it.

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That girl wasn’t always happy; she still suffered relentlessly from depression just like today’s me does. But back then, I didn’t care what “they” thought, I wasn’t trying to be someone I wasn’t, I was just doing things that I wanted to do, that made me feel good, that captured and created beauty. This weekend helped me remember who I was before the world jaded me. I’m grateful.

Escape

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I took this photo almost two years ago now, when we moved into our new home. I cannot believe it’s actually been almost two years… wow…

Anyway, we were unpacking, and I’d just laid out Marley’s favourite blanket that I knitted him a few years ago on the new couches. I opened the blinds so he could watch the happenings on his new street while we unpacked our lives and set them up again. Oh man, I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to have been unpacking… I mean, moving is a real bitch, and we moved 4 times in 5 years, so I was really starting to hate it. This move was huge for us – a few years ago, we bought a nice big block of land, around a third of an acre, and built a beautiful big 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom home on it. We were there for 3 years, and it never felt like home. What the hell did two people and a midget beaglier need that much room for?? We’d been there a few months (we moved in at Christmas time, and went camping at Easter the following year when it all came out) when we realised how much we’d been fighting lately. Sitting by our campsite it all kinda came out that we both hated this lovely new home of ours, we hated the bigger than necessary mortgage, and we hated that we were stuck paying off a house we hated living in. We wanted to travel instead, and we were stuck there instead, and we both realised we’d made a huge mistake, which manifested itself in us fighting about everything from what to cook for dinner to what to watch on TV to what newspaper to buy. This photo was taken like 30 minutes after that revelation, way back in 2011…

Fast forward a few years, and we were in a home, not just a house. A cutesy little two story townhouse, with a man cave for husband and a book nook for me and a little yard/park a few streets away for Marley. So there we were, unpacking, and I noticed this little dude looking out the window. I felt like the want and need and yearning for escape were written all over his beautiful little face. And I got it.

 

Anyway, I remembered this photo of Marley over this weekend when I recognised that same feeling in myself that I thought I saw in him. That wanting to escape, to run across the road, and run down the street to the park, and just keep running to… I dunno, freedom I guess. The last few months have been tough; maybe it’s the fact that I’ve finally acknowledged how much depression and anxiety have affected my life, what horrible consequences the disordered eating has had, how hard it is to try to take these illnesses seriously and “recover” while trying to keep my shit together and keep up the “I’m fine!” act in front of everyone, which means that no one else takes what’s wrong with me seriously… I’ve been living such a wonderful life on paper for so long, with an amazing husband, a surprisingly supportive family, a job I enjoy, a beautiful house, a cutie pie dog, a full passport, all that jazz, and yet my soul aches more and more every day. I think the problem is that I’m being encouraged to stop and think and feel my feelings instead of dealing with them in my typically self-destructive ways, which is not easy. Does anyone realise how hard it really is to actually feel your feelings?! Damn…

 

I’m trying to take a multifaceted approach to this whole dis-ease that’s in my life right now, including a 12 week meal plan based on hitting food group targets instead of counting calories, daily exercise including strength training, the C25K run training program and yoga, daily meditation and reflection time. I should also be practising active daily “self-love” and trying to build some sort of confidence, but honestly, I’ve hated so much about myself for so long that I don’t even know where to start. Any tips from anyone who’s been through this kinda thing?!

The other big part in all of this is trying to work out what makes me happy and keeps me going. What am I living for? What am I working for? What do I love? I love to travel. I love to learn. I love to see new things and experience new cultures and throw myself into new places. Feelings of fernweh and wanderlust are becoming stronger and stronger every day. And if I’m meant to be finding what makes me happy, I think that’s where I’m going to find my answers. Much like Marley, I need to escape and run free every now and then. Unfortunately I’m not a rich kid or a trust fund baby, so a life of constant travel is out of the question (unless anyone wants to pay me to work Bourdain style? I love to travel and eat and write, and will gladly do that for a paid living if anyone wants me!), but I can still find ways to escape when I’m not giving my passport a workout. Going for a run with my favourite music blasting through my head phones. A weekend road trip on my own. Time on my yoga mat. A pot of good tea and a home made biscuit while reading my favourite blogs. Writing. Writing helps a lot. Reading helps the most. My baby sister just gave me the most fabulous gift on Sunday night, too, something I’ll probably read every day now. Actually, I will make it a point to read this every day from now on. She wrote in the front of it to me, “Be strong now, because things will get better. It might be stormy now, but it can’t rain forever.” I can’t believe I haven’t read this book since things really started going down hill – it is the exact life advice and daily reminder that I need, it was like this book was written directly to and for me…. In the words of the great Dr Seuss:

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

What I’m coming to see is that we all have our obligations, we have to work to pay the bills, we all have to do what we have to do. But our obligations are not who we are. Our dreams are who we are. And we feel the need to escape so desperately when we’re not honouring those dreams; without taking time to escape the world of our obligations and indulge in our happiness, we fall apart. I know that if I stop giving a crap about what everyone else thinks, what everyone else expects, and just do what makes me happy, I can’t possibly be depressed or anxious. If we live authentically, if all we aim to be is the best possible versions of ourselves instead of what we think the world wants or expects us to be, what could we want to escape? How can we possibly be miserable failures? We only fail when we’re trying to be someone we’re not – we’re setting ourselves up to fail by comparing and trying to compete. I know that I just need to embrace who I am and be the best version of that. Then instead of wanting to “escape” to something “better,” I’ll be living a life I love, doing the things I love, surrounded by people I love, and I won’t feel the need to escape at all. It sounds so simple…