The little things

A poem I wrote this week. Thanks for reading!

 

The little things

Fall in love and live merrily, until

the bells ring and you sing

on the most beautiful day of your life!

A book’s ending, it is the beginning.

You hope, and days add on.

 

You move, and you choose

a house for your budget, a present for each muppet,

year, after year, after year,

while they grow old far away from where you are.

You wait, and days add on.

 

A wonder, a miracle!

A new life enters yours in tears and joy,

as they start dying of old age

and others divide their lives’ worth.

You live, and days add on.

 

You fight to agree over main and silly.

Compromise” is a word with a new meaning and

lovers’ love” loses its standing

in those busy days filled with laughs and fear.

You age, and days add on.

 

They eat at your soul those days.

Little by little, they feed on hope

leaving fatigue in their wake.

Dreams slowly vanish, sorrow becomes childish.

And yet… Yet!

You try, and days add on.

 

Source: Costel Slincu, flickr
Source: Costel Slincu, flickr

We don’t break, we damage (2)

Here is the second sketch that I draw the other day, on what I believe most people do not understand about anxiety disorders. I entitled it “A two-way ladder”, but I think it could also have been titled “The Fear”. It is meant to explain what “falling over the edge” means for me. Both sketches are very much linked to each other so if you want you can find the other one here. I’m thinking this sketch might a bit more controversial, if possible, because of the themes on the bars which are highly personal, and the distances between the bars which are, of course, never so equal. Still I’m thinking, and hoping, that it illustrates the question well…

Ladder_1_1 Ladder_1_2 Ladder_1_3A two-way ladderA two-way ladder

This is something that I find matters a lot about anxiety disorders, the fact that there are degrees to it. That it’s not a black and white “you’re sane/you’re crazy” kind of thing. There are degrees in which it affects your life, and it can get better, but it can also get worse. It can always get worse. Everytime I fall, I find it a little bit more difficult to rise again, a little bit more fear is left, it cuts off a little bit more of my possibilities. It leaves marks and limits. I fight to go up again and find that there are things that I cannot do, at least for a while. I have to be reasonable and honest with myself, some things are just not a good idea anymore. It is a constant process of pushing the limits (see number one), then going back, while learning what the warning signs are to be able to stop soon enough. At least that’s the way I learnt to deal with it. Drive a bit further away, do more things and when it’s too much, back out a bit or totally. As much as possible, leave some wriggle room for the backing out process, to not feel stuck and pressurized. I do wonder sometimes what I will ever be able to achieve with the limits I have, let alone if I was to have even tighter limits one day.

One of the joys of being a woman

I know no-one wants to be reading about this, but I went for a cervical screening today. Nice! A gynaecologist nurse or doctor put a speculum inside me, to hold the walls of my vagina while she scraped some cells from my cervix, a procedure which was previously called a smear test. That done she is supposed to send these cells for testing, to make sure I don’t have cervical cancer… Even better! Seriously, the only reason I went is because they sent this awful fact-sheet with the paper reminding me to take an appointment… It made me think of my baby boy, he needs his mama – scare people, people, and you get better public health results!

Anyway, I went this morning and I’m still feeling uncomfortable in the belly, like if my periods were about to show up… Sorry for the gory details, I had to put it somewhere.

And maybe take the opportunity to put a small word out there – do it ladies! We’re supposed to start from age 21 (I certainly didn’t) and go every 3 years between 25 and 49, the period we’re most at risk. It’s uncomfortable and not nice but it saves lives…

Good evening everyone!

We don’t break, we damage (1)

I draw two sketches the other day, on what I believe most people don’t understand about anxiety disorders. I thought I would publish them separately even though they are clearly linked. Please keep in mind that they are entirely based on my own perception and experience, and so I cannot be sure that they would fit someone else’s experience… Also I can’t draw, they’re only very basic, but I’m finding that sometimes drawings explain things better than words 🙂

Here we go:

Push further
Push further

I’m scared of losing it, for a time or for good, by pushing myself too far, trying more things or having too much to deal with. Falling is scary and it hurts. You have no idea how long it will take to get better. Some times people don’t come back, not for years or not ever. Even when you win, the fight and the experience leave their marks, on you and on the people you love. The fear of falling again stays. That next time you might not come back out. The time lost.

For people without this experience, it is easy to discard this fear. But there is nothing laughable about it… Yes, it is part of the disorder, but the consequences are very real and can be very costly; panic attacks, anti-depressants or other chemical and non-chemical but very costly treatments, and time.

The second sketch should show what “falling” actually means, at least for me 🙂

Wendy J. Fox: Reconciling book sales as a debut author

Very interesting read! Reminds me that books are creative works not content to sell. “How many books have you written?” would also be a frightful question, as if we “only” write one, it has less value…

Read Her Like an Open Book

Wendy_J_Fox  The_Seven_Stages_of_Anger_cover

When I found out my first book had been accepted for publication, I did not have dreams of a bestseller or fame; I mostly experienced relief. While I’d published in magazines and anthologies, suddenly there was a book of my own.

There was the sheer, beginning thrill of finally feeling like an author, and then there was the reality of how other folks, people who are not writers, ask about it.

“So, how many books have you sold?” a typical conversation might start.

It’s a hard question to answer. It’s tempting to tell the truth (south of a thousand), and it’s tempting to dodge, oh, it’s not so much about sales, and it’s also tempting to outright lie and say something about how the publisher handles all that, how you’re not really involved, how you only think about it when you get a royalty check.

I…

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A gentle push to achieve

I’m supposed to finish my PhD, after years of not working on it. Get the last parts of the thesis together and defend it, in public. The last time I properly worked on it, I was pregnant. Then I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, right after I had a series of panic attacks at 5 months, when my baby boy has just started to move in my belly… If that is not scary, I don’t know what is.

I managed to avoid anti-depressant, just, by working on some of my issues with several professionals. I gave birth and didn’t suffer from post-natal depression (despite that doctor who told me that I had a 50/50 chance of having one, very helpful) or had panic attacks since then. It’s been just over two years (my baby boy is two!!).

Now I need to finish that PhD, so everyone who helped me can see it achieved and get their share of it, and so I can move on for good.

But it’s been a while since I worked on it and I forgot a lot of things. Just the thought of having to go back to the text and the work, and having to defend it in front of my old colleagues is freezing me. It would be just one of these PhDs that took too long – I’ve been to these defences and nobody feels like it’s a successful end to the work, most actually pity the defendor, it took too long, it has less value, and he/she is not even working in the field anymore. Most don’t see the effort it took to finally get there. To add to this, the defence will have to be in Amsterdam – meaning plane, hotel, etc. with a 2 year old boy – and without much time and help to prepare in advance.

So that’s it. I’m trying to deal with it one thing at a time. I will try to finish it and defend it, without losing it. I’m scared. I tried to tell my supervisor, and he understands, to an extent: you are scared, a lot of people are, it’s fine, you’ll manage and we’ll do our best to help you and get it done as fast as we can. It’s really nice of him and some of his ideas might actually help. But I know something that he doesn’t. That I may not manage. That it could get me over the edge with the stress and the tiredness and the depressing topic! Which would mean having to let go again, of everything, and then months or years of feeling crap, maybe having to take treatments, while waiting to get better. Is it really worth the risk?

After two years, I’m finally able to do things I couldn’t for a long time. I’m also taking care of my son and he is a lovely little person I adore. But I haven’t worked since I was pregnant. I keep having ideas of what I could do but stop even before I try. It is so ingrained, the feeling of failure, the lack of self-esteem and self-confidence. Maybe I am a bit stuck, and maybe if I finished that PhD, I’d get rid of that. Because, maybe, what I am suffering from is some kind of stage-fright which can be managed with some help. Maybe I could do it and be good at it and not fall over the edge. Maybe I am stronger than I think. Maybe it could free me and help me find another path for myself, and even make me a better mother for my son. If I don’t try I might always wonder. I might regret it. Or maybe I wouldn’t care, moving on!

Anyway, for now, I’m trying to finish that PhD, knowing that I still need to listen to myself and be responsible. My supervisor cannot really understand the reality of my situation – that the next time I fall I might not come back out for another 2, 3 or 5 years – which means that he could unknowingly push too far, and I cannot let this happen. My son is two and my health has to come first!

The difference between a house-wife and a house-mum

I thought I would make a not-so-very important point here. Nobody I know has been really nasty about it but there is a kind of assumption that if you don’t work, then you have time to, and should, clean the house… It is almost a shame to not do it yourself, even for mums who work full time! Hum. Well, we can afford it and so we have a cleaning lady, even though I do not work…

But really, who says that because you are at home taking care of your child you should also do the cleaning and cooking and washing and shopping? Properly taking care of a child takes time, and I don’t have much more time than my husband for all these other things, and I don’t like to do them anymore than he does.

So we’re paying someone to do the cleaning for us. This way I have time to play legos and read books. I can take my son to toddler groups, music classes, soft-plays, and go for nice walks to playgrounds and big puddles to jump in with our boots. All the while taking care that he doesn’t hurt himself in imaginative ways. Every morning is different and afternoons are dedicated to his naps and a little rest for me, not to cleaning the kitchen or hoovering. On week ends we try to go out all together.

My husband cooks and I take care of the dish-washing (with the dishwasher) and the clothes-washing and shopping. Happy that way 🙂

Source: Judy, flickr
Source: Judy, flickr