Winter Winds

October 12, 2014

But if your strife strikes at your sleep
Remember spring swaps snow for leaves
You’ll be happy and wholesome again
When the city clears and sun ascends

       ~ Winter Winds, Mumford and Sons

 

It’s spring time here. The sun has been shining. The blossoms are blooming. The lemon tree is spilling. The camelias are gushing. And I have been healing.

And all this after a bleak winter. It sounds terribly Shakespearean. If there’s trouble in nature, there’s trouble in my kingdom. And the opposite is equally true. I am so affected by weather and the seasons. But this spring I am shaking off my winter scales more than usual. I’m not sure if it’s earthly co-incidence or divine accord. Call it what you will, I am relishing the synchronicity.

It’s no secret I’ve struggled with my health. My son’s birth four years ago marks the beginning of the spiral down. And it wasn’t long after his birth I started blogging. So sadly this blog has unwittingly documented the spiral. Lucky you! And each year the posts have become less regular as I’ve become more ill. This year my writing has almost come to a standstill. I come to this blog now and see a ghost town, just a few tumbleweeds rolling by.

Never mind my writing though, my health has impacted my life – my family – more than I care to mention. Having tonsillitis and bronchitis and sinusitis for 18 months straight is no fun. It steals time. It steals security. It steals opportunity. It especially steals harmony.

But then, about five weeks ago, things changed. I was two weeks out from a tonsillectomy and the thought of it was wrecking me. I still hadn’t recovered from the trauma of the sinus operation in April. Or the birth of my children in 2010 and 2008. Or chemotherapy in 2003. Trauma upon trauma. It’s insidious…. and stealthy. No one really talks about it. But it’s there, hanging around like cobwebs on our soul. And so I listened to my depleted body and my wounded mind, and it lead me to make a phone call to a herbalist.

It seemed I had a case of adrenal fatigue. I’d heard about it before, but didn’t truly understand it. Nor had I been given the tools to tackle it. But suddenly it was an answer that made complete sense. As I read and read and and read more about it I realised I was in fact the poster child for adrenal fatigue! Ha! A hilarious honour. Besides having all the symptoms, the list of causes read like a diary of my life. They included: repeated cumulative physical and emotional stress over time, being constantly in a position of powerlessness, severe emotional trauma, major surgeries or major illnesses (such as cancer), change in financial status, isolation from family (“typically a mother of two or more young children with little support from family or friends”… bingo!), poor diet, and prolonged and recurring respiratory infections (especially bronchitis and sinusitis) – which are both a cause and a symptom in one.

Yes, my life was a collider of stress particles bouncing off each other, crashing over and over again. No wonder I felt so crushed.

And so with the support of my herbalist I eliminated wheat and sugar from my diet and started taking some herbal tinctures. I filled my body with nourishing food – mainly vegetables. And I started to go to bed before 10pm. And that’s it. Within days the 18-month-long sore throat left me. My long lost energy trickled back. My daily dependence on painkillers stopped altogether. And as a side bonus, in five weeks I’ve lost 6 kilos without trying. Most importantly: I feel great.

Five weeks is still early days, I know. I still get tired! But it feels like the spiral has changed direction for the first time in four years. We’re on the up, people. On the up! The long term recovery involves changes to my lifestyle to eliminate as much stress as possible. I’m sure the herbs have had a huge impact in my recovery so far too. And even if it’s just a placebo effect, I don’t care, it’s doing more for me than dietary change attempts ever did before.

The best bit about the last five weeks is finding hope again. There’s something so powerful in having an explanation for something that held you down AND seeing that it can get better. After all, isn’t hope the key ingredient for keeping us alive? And for awhile there I was grasping for it like little flecks in the distance. Now hope feels near and tangible. It’s pumping through my body like oxygen.

Before I go, I also want to thank you. Thank you for reading my words even in the bleakness. My voice here was so important to me. Illness could grind me down, but I still had my voice, even if it was a whisper, you know?

The winter winds have gone. And I’ve stepped out of the collider. Out here the buds have burst. The sun is shining in my kingdom.

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Dreaming of Michaelangelo

August 25, 2014

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Saturn on a line
A sun afire on strings and wires
To spin above my head and make it right
But any time you like
You can catch a sight of angel eyes all emptiness and infinite

And I dream of Michaelangelo when I’m lying on my bed
I see God upon the ceiling I see angels overhead
And he seems so close as he reaches out his hand
But we are never quite as close as we are led to understand.

      ~ When I Dream of Michaelangelo, Counting Crows

I have perfected the art of cocooning myself in my bed. One pillow under my head, one on my back, one at my front. A wheatbag wedged between me and that pillow on my back. Not too hot, but hot enough that it almost singes my skin and delivers a therapeutic dose of blood-circulating warmth. Fleecy dressing gown rolled in a ball in front of me. Doona over me, sealing in the cocoon. I sink down so that only my eyes and nose surface.

I lie there. And it’s heavenly.

In that moment I find a safe place to rest. Soft. Supported. Soothed.

I’ve been seeking comfort most of my life. It’s only now that I’m 42 years old that I am realising I can find comfort in myself.  I can’t keep hoping to find comfort from other people because  it’s not always going to be possible. And when it’s not possible it’s scary how quickly it leads to disappointment and resentment. And the loneliness of that funk is a load that gets too heavy to bear.

Self-soothing is a thing you can do. Imagine that. I’ve written a list of things I can do so that in the moment of feeling down I can remember what’s in my toolbox. Long hot shower, cup of tea, a walk in nature, putting on some music, stretching my body… and if all else fails the bed-cocoon.

Self-soothing isn’t just comforting. There’s something very powerful when we take responsibility for ourselves. I feel strong. I feel capable. I feel like I’m not going to break.

Lately I’ve been listening to this song. Adam Duritz is one of the greatest poets that ever became a musician. (And don’t look at the pictures, there is no official clip, it’s just music).

When I cocoon myself in my bed I look up. No Sistine Chapel on my ceiling. But it’s white and fresh. A blank canvas for my thoughts.

Sometimes I imagine the serene eyes of angels looking down on me. Sometimes they stroke my hair. I’m sure that angels have always soothed me. I imagine other beautiful things. I imagine trees misty wet with rain, fields overgrown with wildflowers, bells ringing from churches, the threading of my toes through the sea. I imagine words. Magnificent words. Like supple, silky, shine and soar.

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The thing about a cocoon is that it’s a temporary sanctuary. You’re not meant to stay there for years on end. At some point you need to come out. Because real life in all it’s tediousness and pain is also the place where there is beauty and goodness. The haven should be just enough to comfort without being an invitation to wallow and get stuck.

Sometimes I only need my cocoon for minutes, sometimes I need it for hours. But when I resurface I am transformed. Isn’t that the purpose of a cocoon, to change into a more beautiful thing?

Today I stepped out my cocoon. Beautiful butterfly. Lightness and colour. Ready to stretch my wings.

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A Sort Of Homecoming

July 18, 2014

  The frogs and the cicadas were so loud I thought they were at the foot of my bed. I imagined them hanging from the mosquito net, even though it was absurd. But anything seemed possible in this place. On the other side of the window the rice field gurgled like a giggling baby. And […]

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The Truth Will Set You Free

June 5, 2014

I spent Christmas Day in the company of 20 asylum seekers at my parent’s home. Most had experienced years of incarceration, and endured hardship I can scarcely imagine. They fled situations of trauma only to be further traumatised by our government. The only thing is, I had my family there and they didn’t. A few of […]

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Strong

May 27, 2014

The rain started at 4am. A tender thread of water only lasting a few minutes, but it’s tiny patter on the roof was enough to comfort my heart. It woke me from my heavy-eyed thoughts, a clanky reel replaying the last few days. Days filled with fevers, rigors and a throat that burnt like the […]

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Renovating With Kids

May 18, 2014

Occasionally I come up with some golden advice. It’s not often I write about it here. But here I go. Are you ready for this? I really really REALLY wouldn’t recommend one lives in the house they are fully renovating when one has a 3 year old and a 5 year old. Yep, kids and […]

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Roll on, Roll on

May 16, 2014

I barely blogged at all while we renovated our house. We were squashed into one corner of one room while the rest of the house sputtered noise and paint and dust. Not surprisingly, my head turned into a strange mushy substance. Unable to utter cohesive words, let alone write them. I can’t adequately describe how […]

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Motherhood and The Hardship Competition

May 11, 2014

It’s no secret that being a mother can be tough. We’re all trying to nurture our children and do the best we can. Often the conditions are not ideal. It can be lonely, unrelenting and heartbreaking. (It can also be joyful, rewarding and rock you to the core… but more of that later). In my […]

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Hello Brightness

April 26, 2014

  Hello brightness. Little fireflies glowing at my window. Gleaming in the tender light of dawn. Hush the cold trees leaping in the wind.   I see you there. Sequin-like in the fog. Digging out of the darkness of my bones. Rising through blood and fear. Gently unpinning head from heart.   Is this how change reveals […]

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The Sinking of the Mother Ship

April 13, 2014

I’m about to have surgery tomorrow. I’m nervous. Unspeakably nervous. It’s a sinus operation. Fairly routine. But with all surgeries there are risks. And the recovery from this surgery is not pretty. I’m trying to think positive thoughts, but my overactive imagination is working back to back shifts. With my history of medical procedures you’d […]

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