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Archive for the ‘mental health’ Category

IMG_4828The House of Gusto is, at the time of writing, two days free of the sound of jackhammers. I’m not saying it is connected, but the sun has come out from where it has cowered behind rainclouds for weeks, in the hope of not losing its solar hearing and its tiny sun mind. I expect it found, as we all did, that clouds are not very useful ear protection, but I do understand: it had to do something or it might have exploded, which would have been dramatic but catastrophic.

I, sadly not a celestial being, had to remain here on the earth that quaked every day for eight or nine hours as the diggers ripped through the sandstone layers a metre or so from our house. I did go mad and on several occasions came close to becoming a supernova. Not in a good way.

I yelled back at the small people who yelled at me and the large people who didn’t. And we all did have to yell a lot to make ourselves heard. There was a lot of bursting into tears, wailing, putting ourselves and each other into various time-out situations.

It was very unpleasant and more than one person close to me suggested I might like to start back on the happy pills since perhaps it wasn’t healthy or normal to be quite this miserable about pretty much everything. My response to that, as it has to be when you are trying to tell other people that you don’t need medication for depression, was calm and measured, delivered with a joke and a smile.

I told them all that I did not think this situation was normal and that if and when the fucking jackhammers ever stopped, that I would then take stock of my mental state and see if this was maybe just a bit of jackhammer-induced lunacy I was experiencing and then we could all look back and laugh.

Now the jackhammers have stopped, I am feeling much better, but like that person who keeps singing for a few lines before they realise the stereo has blown all the fuses and there is no more music or light, Garnet has continued to shout.

He’s having several tantrums a day at the moment, and they are very loud and full of woe. My clever and sensitive friend Kate, who has a similar model of four year old, tells me that they are just experiencing the internal conflict of realising the world of independence is beginning to open up to them and being utterly terrified that the world of independence is opening up to them. But she is wrong. There’s nothing internal about Garnet’s conflict. It is very much external. It echoes off the other side of the valley.

So I have replaced jackhammers with the anguished screams of a young soul in torment. On Monday, when the jackhammering was still happening, I went outside to ask them to stop fior a couple of minutes so I could get Garnet into the car without blowing his eardrums. The builder obligingly stopped, and he and his colleagues stood there as I hauled a furious and crying Garnet out to the car. He was making far more noise than the jackhammers.

As I tried and failed to strap him into the car, then turned and carried him back into the house, the builders watched with looks on their faces that clearly said ‘Yeah, how’s that quiet break in the excavation working out for you, love?’

Poor old Garnet. I gather that this is a normal enough part of his development, but it can’t be any fun for him. He’s as happy as anything when he’s not behaving like lava, but he is quite easily set off, especially by May Blossom interrupting.

She has reached the age where she can sense the ebb and flow of conversation well enough to get away with interrupting. I remember trying to figure that out when I was a kid. My brothers and I were told not to interrupt, but then if we listened to the grownups talking, it was clear that their whole conversation relied on interrupting each other, to some extent.

When you thought of something relevant to say, if you waited until there was a quiet moment, it was too late and you sounded like a dullard who just thought of that interesting thing to say when the conversation had well and truly moved on. It was as frustrating as fuck.

When you crack the secret of when it’s ok to interrupt, the world of conversation opens up and life is just so exciting. May Blossom is there. Garnet is not. He’ll get there, but in the meantime he cries a lot when May Blossom leaps in while he’s still trying to gather his thoughts and get them into words.

I’m working on some strategies to help us all. One strategy is leaving the children with my parents and going to Melbourne with H for a long weekend. Another might be to get a conch shell and making a rule whereby only the person holding the shell can speak.

But it’s probably a slippery slope to start using Lord of the Flies as a parenting manual.

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je-2In a shocking turn of events, I have not written any more of my novel since last week. My idea now seems very slight and unimportant in light of world events. Instead, we have moved back into our house after the renovation, and I have spent most of my time dealing with an existential crisis that has taken root in the rich compost of all the stuff in our house.

I need to cull our belongings. This is a truth universally known. But I am also a sentimentalist at heart. I know how you’re meant to get rid of things: ask do I wear them/use them/need them? Could someone else benefit from them? One or two yeses and out they go. Well, that’s all fine in theory. But in reality? There are more questions than that.

Here are but two of the quandaries I have been wrestling with. Multiply this by a few hundred and you have an idea of why I am not achieving a lot.  (more…)

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IMG_0328

Obviously this is not the beach we went to in this story. This is Waikiki beach, where I have also been grumpy in the recent past. 

I’m very grumpy these days. My wonderful mother suggested she could babysit while H and I went out last week, so we took her up on it, because I have this idea that maybe if I leave the house more I won’t be so crabby.

The first thing I do after leaving the house for the evening is tell H I’m in a grumpy mood. Because what if he can’t tell? What’s the point of being in a foul mood if no one knows? There’s no point sulking in the passenger seat if your spouse just thinks you’re happily enjoying the drive. So just in case my bad vibes aren’t strong enough any my sighs are mistaken for bliss, I generally announce how I’m feeling. ‘I’m in a terrible mood,’ I tell him.

‘Yes, I though you might be,’ he says.

He questions me about why and I get even crosser and attempt to fob him off by saying I do not want to talk about it. I clearly want to talk about it. (more…)

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compostbin

Hiding in the corner, not doing its job well. Come on, compost bin, lean in.

Hello! Well, Mental Health Week came and went last week, and with it my intentions to write a really great post about mental health. I didn’t, because my mental health got in the way. What a jape! Mental health, you trickster, you.

The last few weeks my mood has been, like the Sydney weather these days, running very hot and cold, with a side of near constant anxiety.

I’ve been anxious about my little girl, who struggled all through the school holidays with the bullying issues she has been confronting at pre-school. She seemed to have read some textbook on being a small child and instead of behaving like a sensible adult about it, as she normally does, and thinking and discussing the problem until it is manageable, she behaved like a four year old and dealt with the problem by drawing on the living room carpet and cutting her own hair. So there was that.

There were also a lot of weeping meltdowns (from her and me), plenty of fraternal envy (mainly her, although I do have a brother living in New York so a low level of fraternal envy is a constant for me), topped off with some sleep regression (both of us). This culminated in a weekend of fevers, just before school resumed, and she now has a terrible cold. On the up side, things have improved at preschool this week and she is generally a lot happier. I on the other hand, have been left in a heap. I’m not as resilient as she is.

We’re also planning a fairly huge renovation of our house, which scares the crap out of me. So much money. So many decisions. So many panic attacks to have in tile shops.

Our plans look so lovely and sensible, and like they will solve so many of the issues the rabbit warren of a downstairs of this place currently has, but I can’t help wondering, when I look at those plans, if the people who previously renovated the house felt the same way when they created all these problems. Did they think it was a really awesome solution to have the main entrance of the house open straight into the toilet? Did they think seven doorways within a two-metre square space was going to look fabulous and lead to a relaxed flow of traffic? Did they have a reason for putting the only phone point so far from a power point, so you have to have cords draping all over the kitchen? Am I just those idiots, with Pinterest?

Basically, my mental state at the moment is precisely analogous to our compost bin. There is a lot of stuff in it, but it’s not breaking down properly. There are too many food scraps and not enough green waste. It’s sort of rotting a bit, in a smelly way, but it’s not turning into compost. And now there’s no room to put anything else in. It really needs to be dealth with: removed from the bin and turned, thoroughly, but ain’t nobody got time for that. So we have squeezed some bought compost in and a handful of worms from my mum’s house and put the lid on and we’re going to ignore it for a while. That’s how my brain is.

I think perhaps I need to write more. For me, writing mixes the eggshells and the carrot peelings with the grass clippings and creates a bit of heat in my head. Maybe heat that will break all this crap down into some lovely dirt I can grow things in. I’ll plant seeds of inspiration and grow a beautiful garden of intensely laboured metaphors. But probably the fucking possums will just come and eat them.

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