Jun 7, 2014

When I was young, I dropped a bowl onto the kitchen tiles. An accident, of course. But I cried. Mum came and helped me clean it up and calm down, but I still cried. Why? Shock. Shame. Fear of getting in trouble. The unexpected.

Another time my mum went on a holiday and brought me back a present. It was a necklace; black leather cord with a pendant made from some kind of polymer clay. It was made to look like a picture of a lizard in amongst some dots and colours, looking very 'outback Aboriginal' in its design.
I felt special recording that gift; it was precious to me, because it was mine, and because my mother had given it to me. I kept it in my pocket on that first day, and I loved to play with it; the pendant felt slightly rubbery and bendy and as I kept testing its strength and malleability between my fingers, it snapped right in half.
I cried. I took it to my mum, and she reassured me that we could fix it, but still I cried. Why? Shock. Disappointment. Pity. I was so sad for myself - I had just got this new thing, this prized and precious possession, and it was already destroyed. Sure, it could be glued back together, but it would never be the same again, never pure and new again. It was ruined forever and I was in mourning.

Today a plate broke at my sister's house. Part of a one-of-a-kind thrifted set with unique painted details. It's my sister's crockery, but even I loved that plate. It wasn't my fault, but my sister wasn't home to witness, so I sent her a photo with excuses and reassurances that the whole thing was an accident, or course including an obligatory sad face emoticon in mourning for the plate. I was expecting retribution and scolding in reply. I received this:
"It's okay - not precious!"

And that is precisely when I sat down and began reflecting upon all of this. All my life I have put items and objects and things in a place of protection and preciousness, often before even myself.

Earlier this year I had a car accident. It was my fault, but an honest accident nonetheless. It's left me quite cripplingly in debt, and for the days following the accident, I was an awful mess - but my sister said this to me:
"Em, the most important thing is that no one got hurt. There are more cars and there is plenty of money in the world, but there's only one you. You need to look after yourself."

And that is true. It doesn't immediately seem like entirely helpful advice - I'm still in debt, regardless of my self esteem. But it has been a battle since then to not define myself by my financial status or what 'things' I have. Coupled with having a new job, necessary for the debt, but in a semi-rich area of town where status is quickly applied with money and possessions, the battle has been a difficult one.

Who would want to be friends with me when I'm at a financial loss?
Who would think anything of me when I don't have rich fancy things?
Why would anyone want to hang out with a girl who drives a shitbox car?

You know what, though? Those questions shouldn't matter - anyone choosing their friends based on that criteria is misguided.

There IS only one of me - my financial status, the things that I have and don't have, the car I drive... All of these things affect my life, but they aren't me. I'm always me, rich or poor. 

And you are always you, rich or poor,  healthy or not, happy or sad, here or there. 

This year my goal is to minimise. To stop being precious about my replaceable things and realise that I am precious. That I am more important than the things I own. That things don't own me. 

That all being said, I'm off home now to clean my room. To get rid of the things I don't need and make that space my bitch. I mean, make that space my own, and make it life giving. To reflect that I am one of a kind and value myself far above any of the clothes or trinkets I own.

'But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.'
-Philippians 4:10-13
Mar 21, 2014
-


It's only scary because I don't usually do this.

http://soundcloud.com/emkwood/beast-original-first-draft/s-DcRPw

-
Mar 17, 2014

I woke up dizzy again
Sent a message to all my friends
Said 'Tell me it'll be alright'
I breathed in air and time
Waiting for their reply
Should I make a fist or make a flight?

Friend or foe 
Why can't you go
And leave me alone?

Today is longer than yesterday
By a thousand years at least
And tomorrow feels forever away
When I'm staring down this beast

I searched for a face I knew
But everyone just looks like you
Their eyes are filled with fear
I've prayed a thousand times
That someday I'll wake up alive
But I am still right here

One day I know
And soon I hope
This place will feel like home

Today is longer than yesterday
By a thousand years at least
And tomorrow feels forever away
When I'm staring down this beast

I see the sun but
I can't wake up
No I can't get out of this bed
But I can not sleep for
The fear in my dreams
Will not leave this head

Make it stop
Make it stop
Make it stop
Make it stop

Today is longer than yesterday
By a thousand years at least
And tomorrow feels forever away
When I'm staring down this beast
And it's staring back at me.


Songwriting is cathartic. When there's no pressure, when you just take your feelings and put them into minor chords and go all emo for a while, there's a sort of peace that floats along with it.

This song, if it's not clear, is about a less-than-healthy mental state. Depression/anxiety, call it what you will, this is how the 'Beast' has preyed on me at times and so I wrote about it. I'll probably upload a recording when I get around to it.
I wrote it last year in the middle of an oval on my ukulele, just singing my feelings in the midst of my frustrating depression.

The other one I uploaded, 'Pepper//Terry' is about a girl I knew, even if it was only barely. But she impacted my life so much in my journey to work with youth in the brief time that I knew her. She was full of life and made me laugh constantly, but hers was already a tragic story before she was killed in a high speed car accident along with two others.
I wrote it this past weekend at the Surrender conference, which I immensely enjoyed, though spent much time feeling mournful. I've wanted to write a song about my encounters with this girl for a long time, but I could never get it right - I still don't think I've hit the nail on the head (because how can you do something like someone's life and death and impact justice?) but it's what it is.

-
Like fire the pepper burns my tongue
Your smile laughs at what I've done
I hope that you can find some hope tonight
As we sing all these words about the light

But you're spinning out of control
Shouldn't have to know this pain at only 14 years old
You're spinning out of control
Just trying to find a home for your soul

The call comes early on a Friday in my car
This time you've gone too far
And it's too late now there's nothing I can do
Maybe this life was just too hard for you to hold on to

You're spinning out of control
It's too soon though, you're only 16 years old
Now you're spinning out of control
Down the highway too fast you lost your hold

We drive all morning and stay the afternoon
We've got seats saved just behind row two
The song they play says we'll find Someone Like You
But I don't think that's true

Now I'm spinning out of control
Thought I'd have it sorted by 23 years old
I'm spinning out of control
And the pepper burns like fire in my soul

The pepper burns like fire in my soul

The pepper burns like fire for your soul
-
Feb 19, 2014
But it feels like it is.

I started this blog over a year ago, and titled it 'Finding Lost Things' because that was the journey I had started - a journey to find all the things I had lost while suffering from depression in my teenage years. I had expected the blog to be filled with wondrous and inspiring self-discovery, delivered through creative photos and prose; it would be a beautifully crafted anthology of pieces, dedicated to life, joy, and recovery.

And now, I want to smash my computer screen and fill the cracks with these endless tears.

Fuck depression, fuck anxiety, and fuck relapses. This blog is not what I wanted it to be, namely because I'M not where or who I want to be. I'm numb, and if I'm not numb, I'm scared. I can't decide if the depression or anxiety is more insufferable.

I mentioned before - all the 'blah blah blah' about not being ungrateful for what I have, etc, and people will often say 'be careful what you wish for', so let me be clear: This is not a 'wish', it is merely how I feel. And how I feel is raw, and real (though it may not be 'truth') and completely and totally fucked up -

I would rather suffer a painful and chronic physical illness, than this mental mind-fuckery. And don't think that if I only knew such a thing that I would change my mind - I wouldn't. I have had my own share of chronic physical issues - asthma, hayfever, sinusitis (all of which play off each other), vertigo, astigmatism, TMJ disorder - some worse than others, some diseases, some symptoms of whatever else is going on. The vertigo and TMJD are probably connected somehow to the stress.

My point being, in this feeling, is that throughout all of these physical issues, I have always had hope. That simple yet strong lifeline. Hope has gotten me through some very dark spaces. Hope has helped me survive. Hope has allowed me to keep smiling, dreaming, and acting even when my body doesn't want to cooperate entirely.

Do you know what depression and anxiety do? They steal your hope, your joy, your energy and zest, they steal your dreams and your passion and peace. They steal it all and lock it away in a taunting box, then dangle that box right in front of your face to remind you what they've stolen.
'You could unlock this box' they say, 'you could have your joy back, but you know it won't last long. You know you're worthless, and a liar, and will never achieve anything. You know you're going to fail and fall to pieces, you know everyone you love will turn their backs on you at some point. Try and unlock this box and get out your creativity while we remind you of everyone who has ever left you, while we remind you of everyone who is better than you. Go on, it's right there, just take it.'

I'm left with this restless lethargy - I need to do something other than sit on this couch, but there's simply nothing I can think of doing, nothing I want to do, nothing I can stick to. The amount of concentration simply to write this is physically taxing and even still I'm all over the place.

---

I have a bunch of childhood pictures on my fridge. And I see this little me, so filled with hopes and dreams and goals and laughter, and I think 'FUCK you depression, fuck you anxiety, fuck you shit-humans who screwed that little girl over and sent her into a lifetime of fear and doubt, who can't trust or be intimate, who is so uncertain of every little step even when the path is laid right out for her. I'm so sorry to that girl because I lost her hope; I wasn't strong enough to keep it.

I thought I was done with this black dog, but it seems this time to have sunk its teeth to the bone.
Jan 27, 2014
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Is it treason

To mistrust
To question and challenge
To be filled with disgust

Is it treason

Is it right

To not belong
To not chant and cheer
To suggest that you've got it wrong

Is it right

Is it self-righteous

To exclaim
To point out the injustice
To point a finger in blame

Is it self-righteous

Is it futile

To love
To care and to change
To look for help from above

Is it futile

Is it treason

To write a letter
To mourn for this nation
To believe we could do better

Is it treason?
-
Oct 16, 2013
For me, depression does not mean that I can't see the light; every day I search for it and find it.
It means that the light doesn't seem to shine on anything else right now.

It does not mean that I am not grateful and blessed with what I have, for I know that I have much, and I am thankful.
It means that what I have feels wasted, because I do not enjoy it as I know I should.

It does not mean that I think I am worthless; indeed I've spent years discovering my infinite worth.
It means that every day, I see my potential wasted, I see my dreams by the wayside, and I see my achievements clouded by 'so what?'.

It does not mean that I always focus on negative things; it has been a strict discipline in my life to seek joy, to look on the bright side.
It means that fearful thoughts attack me from all sides at once, waking and sleeping, crowding and overtaking me with their sheer insistence.

It does not mean that everything is grey, in varying shades of black or white.
It means that colours don't inspire me or excite me anymore; they just add to the overwhelming environment around me.

It does not mean that I can't get out of bed or off the couch; I do spend much of my time there.
It means that I can't find a good enough reason to get up and go.

It doesn't mean that I don't know what to do, or that I'm punishing myself by limiting creative pursuits.
It means that there's nothing I want to do; even the things I used to love most have lost their appeal and it all looks like chores.

It does not mean that I have lost faith in God; I can hear His whispers of 'trust me' when I call upon Him.
It means that I have lost faith in fairytales and happy endings.

It does not mean that I want to kill myself, or that I have a morbid preoccupation with death.
It means that being both alive and awake is a battle I choose to face every day.

It does not mean that I think I will never get better.
It means that seeing that time and place is impossible, and I'm so fucking tired of waiting around.
Oct 6, 2013
Before you embark on a journey of self-discovery, I urge you this one thing:

Love yourself. Unconditionally.

Because as you journey, you may come across things in your heart you did not expect. In your heart you may find boundless joy and thankfulness, but it is likely you may also find in your heart pain, anger, guilt, fear. You may find any number of weaknesses and any number of broken pieces of your heart. These pieces are the most difficult to share; what we give those pieces to someone, only to have the pieces returned with disgust and judgement?

This is why we must first love ourselves. With all our brokenness and regret and mistakes – love.

When you decide to love yourself no matter what you do or discover, you will find it easier to share the dark places in your heart with someone else.

If they give back the pieces you shared, what does it matter now? Because you know how to hold those pieces; you can keep yourself safe and loved until you find others you can trust to share your heart with.

When you love yourself, even through all your brokenness, you can love others through theirs. How great to be given the honour of holding another's pain or fear and yet to still say "I love you"?

I urge you once again: love yourself. You are worth the greatest price that has ever been paid – it is finished.
Love yourself every day. Love the dark places. Let love shine in and you will know that not only are you loved, you are so worth loving.


Sep 12, 2013
A friend to ask if I'm ok
A friend to give me a smile each day
A friend who will take me out for a walk
A friend who will listen if I just want to talk
A friend that says 'I love you just as you are'
A friend that says 'I'll do anything to just make you laugh'
A friend who's reassuring when I'm scared of today
A friend who's got stories when I've nothing to say
A friend who remembers that I hate the cold
A friend who will keep the secrets I've told
A friend to remind me to eat something good
A friend to make jokes about 'Emily would!'



I'm very blessed to look and see
That I have each and every of the friends that I need.
Sep 9, 2013
The only lasting side effect at this stage seems to be fatigue, I'm sleeping early, sleeping in, and napping frequently most days.

There are other things happening in my world, big things, exciting things, all the things... It just seems that the greyness supersedes it all for some reason. 
Sep 6, 2013

When I'm feeling okay (like I do right now), it's difficult for me to fathom that I have recently felt so terrible. I think 'that's ridiculous! Of course life is worth living! Of course there are reasons to smile and people who love me! I'm not alone! What on earth was I so worried about?'

It's nice, to feel so certain of the goodness in life, but of course the flip side is that it's exactly the same when I'm down; when I feel depressed, it's impossible to take seriously the times like now where I feel calm and happy. When I feel depressed, it's impossible to see hope.

But right now, it's almost impossible to see despair.

It's a strange old life we're living.
Live it - No matter how strange.
Sep 4, 2013
-
And the beast is back.

I'm pretty tired of this battle. All of my energy is focused on fighting rock-bottom moods, panic attacks, errant thoughts, constant fears. To get out of bed, say 'good morning' to my housemates and make eye-contact with myself in the mirror, willing myself to feel hopeful about the day, is enough to send me back to bed, exhausted. Some mornings I have done that.
I am trying, though, but I can't predict what each day will bring, and it's taking its toll on everything, most recently uni. This semester might have to go on hiatus because I just can't work, and while I feel a little more at ease at the thought of study no longer hanging over my head, there's this voice that follows me around.

'Failure,' it says.

'You don't work, you don't even volunteer anymore or go out or do anything, and you still couldn't keep up with three measly subjects. Not like your housemates, who work and study and are involved with endless other activities and still manage good results. You're incapable, you're a failure, you can't do it. What good are you really? How do you ever hope to make a difference if you can't even write an essay? How will anyone ever love you when all you do is nothing? You're a failure, and no one wants that; no one wants you, you're just taking up space.'

I don't think I'd exactly worked out those thoughts until writing them... But there they are. As a response, here is what I got up to today:

• Got out of bed! Yay!
• Drove to the shops. What an achievement.
• Organised the shit out of the pantry. Yeaaah.
• Pulled up as many weeds as I could find in the 'garden'. Made so many analogies to life as I did so.
• Cleaned the toilets and bathroom. Gee they get gross.
• Had myself a nap. Unintentional.
• Tried organising some 'what the hell am I doing with uni!?' stuff, to no avail.
• Tidied the back room.

Well, I'm sure I'm not quite a failure... But I don't think that voice is going to leave any time soon...
-
Sep 1, 2013






Aug 31, 2013
Joy! And rapture! And delight!

This morning I woke to sunshine, pancakes, friends, and a distinct lack of that black dog.

I can still hear him barking in the distance, I can still feel the heaviness in my chest and the pit in my stomach, but this morning I feel lighter, I see a tiny ray of hope in the sunbeams streaming through the window.


Having had a chance to reflect on some things, I've come back to a persistent monster: pride. I once asked God to rid me of pride, and I'm not sure that I really knew what I was getting myself into, but it has, more often than not, been quite a painful process. Like pulling weeds, the roots sometimes go deep, and it hurts to pull some of those things out.

I don't, for one moment, think that God wants me to be depressed or anxious, I don't think that he brought this upon me at all, but maybe there are parts of it he can use. I've had to sacrifice a lot of pride recently and it isn't easy, but maybe (just maybe) it's ultimately good.

I've had to sacrifice pride in my relationship with my mother - it has helped to repair some past sadness and scars.

I've had to sacrifice pride in my interactions with others. Well, I'm learning to at least. I've never been one to ask for help, ask for love, or really ask for anything... While there's a large element of trust malfunctioning there, there's also a lot of pride that keeps me from needing anything from anyone. I'm learning that this is not a great way to live.

Similarly, I've had to sacrifice pride in the way I approach my own health. Admitting   things like seeing a psychologist or taking antidepressants has not been easy for me, admitting that I need help. I don't tell everyone I come across about my health because not everyone needs to know, but there's also a large part of me that is scared to let go of that wall of pride and security, to let people see me and make their judgements. I'm not sure what exactly it is I'm scared of - rejection, humiliation, having people view me as weak?

Anyway, that's my thoughts this morning. Time for a cuppa.
It's night, and I feel good. I'm trying to make myself remember these moments, however simple they may be.
Today:

• I kept my appointment with the psychologist, and realised quite a few things about my past and myself.

• I gave myself permission to nap.

• I went for a long walk, played silly on a playground and strolled home in the rain.

• I did something creative! 'Winosaurs' ;P

• I went to a trivia night, and while I noticed myself feeling anxious a few times, the scene did not overwhelm me as it often would.

• I had a day and night filled with good people who I love, activity and movement, laughter and life.

I feel peaceful now, cozy and warm... I know that there is hope.
I want so much for it to stay.
Aug 30, 2013
I hate waking up.
I open my eyes and regain consciousness and already my entire body is in fight or flight. Panic. I despair. I don't see hope, I don't feel peace. I am without a horizon in a nauseous, murky sea of wretched feeling and thinking.

Lord, won't you walk to me across the waters? Won't you save this drowning one of little faith?


The thing that bothers me is, I know all about depression and anxiety... I know the pitfalls, I know the lies and distorted thinking it gives, I know the false basis for the emotional wreckage... But I can't change any of it. Though I know there is good in the world, I don't believe it. Though I know I have reasons to be happy, I can't feel it. Though I know depression is telling me there is no reason to live, I can't argue with it. Why, if I can see what a sneaky disease this is, can't I challenge it, why can't I get better? I'm so tired of this torture.

It's like being stuck in a jail cell that has no bars. It should be so easy to escape, but I simply can not. I can't drag myself off the floor to even find a way beyond these invisible walls keeping me captive. I hate this, I want to scream but haven't the energy.
I find that I've been feeling better at nights. Sometimes. Actually I don't think there's a pattern to it, but tonight I feel okay, and when I think about why, these reasons come to mind:

• I've had all day to wake up, move about, eat food and think positively.

• I swept the front steps – a project I've been wanting to complete for a while. Sweeping is my favourite chore, I felt very satisfied 'post sweep'.

• I got to see and speak to lots of people I love today (though to do so required me being in some overwhelming social situations).

• I engaged in worship. Often, even through pain, I find freedom in worship.

• I spent the evening with safe people in laughter, I'm quite sure it helped to lift my mood.

Now if I could find a way for this mood to transfer into my dreams, and stay with me until the morning, that would be great.

If at all you pray, please pray for peace for me to sleep. I have slept fitfully for a couple of months now and it is taking its toll emotionally as well as mentally and physically. Please pray that I am able to sleep the whole night through, preferably at least 7 hours, that my dreams would be encouraging, and that I would wake feeling refreshed, cozy, light, and ready to face the day. Thank you.
Aug 29, 2013
Tired of waking up scared.
Tired of restless sleep.
Do not want.
Aug 28, 2013
'Would you want me when I'm not myself?
Wait it out while I am someone else?'
I'm stuck on the couch worse than before.
I've never felt this consistently fatigued.
Here's hoping it's all worth it.
Anything to help me hear those whispers.
I hear again and again
The softest whisper

'Trust me', it says, 'trust me'.

The whisper carries peace on its breath
But I am not quite sure how to take hold
Of peace, or,
How to trust.

But again I hear the voice,
'Trust me'
Breathe.
The yawning continues
The fatigue won't leave
My pupils are dilated
I crave light but it hurts my eyes.

Here goes.
Aug 27, 2013
Can
Not
Stop
Yawning
I mostly just need

To know that I'm not alone
To know that you won't leave
To know that the sun still shines
To know that I'll feel warm
To know that I am worth something

And more than those
I just need to believe
The things I know

(A postscript apology for the emo overtones spewing out of me right now... Call it cathartic, call it self pity, call it whatever you want, but it's where I am)
The best time is the lull before my body reacts.
This couple of hours before my insides start feeling tumbly and grumbly, before my head feels like gravity's new best friend.

The morning sunshine helps me enjoy these hours, and I look forward to them. That's something, at least.

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