Awesome People Plants

In our home, there are four teens, one tween, and a close to be adult who lives a city away. There is also a troll, sorry, challenging old woman (who has insisted since birth that I call her Mom) who lives upstairs and other living beings, including my growing collection of cactus that thrive in the shade. Yes. My cacti and I are all prickly, fat, and prefer languishing in the dark. The most important of my growing beings are definetly my growing brood of chickens. And just in writing that I realise how much describing them as chickens just doesn’t describe the enormity of who they are. What they’re blooming, growing into. I am at a loss for words actually. Because as much as I tear up when thinking of their amazing, step by step, aww growth spurts (ongoing), it has come with a hefty DIY catering and grocery cost (also ongoing).

When not selling a pound of flesh to keep us in house and home I do get invaluable moments and times with our many children, well, at least some of them. Our eldest son lives in another city which is to as he says: “foster a better relationship” which I read as: “I can only handle you in short, precise doses, after which we need to be seperated by land and sea”. Our next two, The Duchess, our eldest daughter, who holds the most superior rank until eldest son gets home, and The Queen (her BFF) still and regularly speak fluent flenglish to me. It’s when they talk to me using the little bit of flab they are trying to lose for their matric farewell (our prom) and they make voices and gesticulations to support. It is both frustrating and funny for example with me spending 10 minutes saying with increasing irritation instruction 1, instruction 2, and them saying in flenglish, laughing, sorry what? But it makes me smile on the inside that there are moments when they literally giggle in, out and with their bellies.

Our next son is immaculate in appearance, and a good looking guy, but less so in his immediate surroundings, particularly that which is in close proximity to me. He also adores me so much, that he takes my things and keeps them close to his heart. It’s a cute little habit that stretches my understanding of being a mother. He did however tell us that he remembered each of his school plays, and said that although he never really had a speaking part, he was amazed that my husband and I had come each time, cheered and waved in the audience and had once even taken him out for dinner (which is a treat in our house), and most importantly that he felt important each time. Our last, but certainly not least “I want to be the oldest” tween is a defiant, combination of all our entire household’s best AND worst traits. She also reguarly undertakes life threatening activity like talking back to me when I am reprimanding her. And argues, like she has a briefcase and hopefully, a TITANIUM cage to protect her from me. It’s like a good meme said: “There’s nothing like your daughter’s mouth to bring out your inner gangster”. Indeed.

So aside from all these endearing habits, languages, and moments, I concede that we are growing amazing things. That they are growing themselves. That it is usually, mostly a blessing to be part and parcel of all their development. That somehow I get to be a usually positive contributing factor to their lives (vitamin enduced I tell you). And that they don’t see me as disordered, mentally ill or broken. They see me as Mom. Momty. Someone to laugh with, cry with, inhale sweets under the blanket with. They actually want to be around me (poor kids) and know what to do when I need some space. Each day, though I don’t know how it will turn out, I know that they will be there. With kissy lips when I “don’t” want them, tissues for tears, and Mom and Me selfies even when I don’t feel pretty. And though I often prefer myself and my cacti in the dark, I always try and be in the sun for them. Also for me. Because they are awesome. Awesome People Plants. Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t. I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.

(Thank you Pixabay for the beautiful picture).

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Weepy Watering Can

Hello Friends. It has been difficult to write of late.  Ok a lot late since I seem to start each blog off with that.  Truth is it’s been tough going and it’s taking it’s toll.  The days are losing colour, no difference between night and day and tasks their appeal.  Even those much wanted ‘things I did ticks’ I dilligently worked to attain, matter less and any kind of of sleep more. It’s too much, and it has been for a while and my chest feels like it will soon cave.  It feels like it can no longer contain the force of the emotions within, outside and on it.  The repeatedness of the stress and not having many outlets for it to go away, if only temporarily.  Because this body and all its bits have been used so frequently from such an early age that I think it’s broken.  Almost like a watering can with too many holes after years of use – it still waters, but perhaps not only from the spout.

Now not everything is wrong, and I know that the world has not stopped turning on account of a slight mood dip.  Maybe. But I do feel like I am being pushed too hard, from too many sides all the time. Woken up and being demanded by everyone for every thing, when I already had a pressing day planned by my standards.  A day where again I get up and choose to be up, when I so fiercely wish to remain asleep.  A day that follows too many others where I have not slept properly.  The fact that I sleep a medicated sleep each day.  Sigh.  And when this happens for too long, I can’t control what I spew out.  I shout, scream and swear, because my insides explode in words that are designed to push the offending person away so I don’t give into the feeling of collapsing and crying.

So what I have decided to do is to spend time wondering and plotting what I will or will not do next.  I am also going back to the mental health clinic (was there today) and going there until things improve.  I will try and engage less in chest caving engagements.  Rest more.  And I think importantly, will go and revel in the sun, grow a plant maybe.  But I need to fight for and promote what is right for me.  Even if others I thought would don’t. So you will have to excuse me for a while – I’m going to plant my weepy watering can self somewhere sunny.  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.

Internal Alarm Clock

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt and had like a little internal clock or reminder app or something that said I had something to do.   Sometimes I didn’t know what it was, but it bothered me, and sometimes I did.  The times I did, I would do this something over and over until I perfected it in my mind.  Until I could tick it off this silly internal things to do list I believed I had created for myself.  These ticks would bring momentary relief, but for some reason no matter how much I did, I never managed to take away permanently, the you haven’t done enoughness feeling.  And it’s this that keeps me awake at night, that makes me catch my breath sharply with the weight of never being able to just sit down and feel what I think other people call calm.

Now I’m not running about doing stuff – most times I am sitting on my side of the couch feeling sad about the stuff I don’t do.  But it’s exhausting, constantly either doing something or feeling bad because you didn’t.  And I’m a lot tired of it. But I know that I haven’t truly found a way to switch it off other than being sedated or asleep.  Oi.  Last week though on the Farm, as I mentioned in my last blog, Water Donkey, I had the time, the fresh air and other factors that allowed me a slight reprieve from my demanding internal clock.  I participated fully in playing Scrabble, laughed from my belly with my children and enjoyed the sun.  And I didn’t do anything other than just focus on one thing at a time.

At home it is harder to do this.  Harder to focus on one thing at a time.  There is so much to do, so many children (that haven’t gone to school for a long time) a sickly mother, and again, so much to do.  This makes my clock tick even more loudly and it keeps me awake. And staying too much awake makes me a lot cranky let alone other impacts I’d prefer not to describe or experience.  So I’ve decided that I am not going to do this to myself anymore.  I am not punishing myself for some unknown sin in the past, present or future.  No.  Life is challenging enough and I do not need some pressing internal anything more than what I already experience.  I am even considering going back to the Farm.  No, that’s not true.  But I am going to try, try anything, to be rid of this internal alarm clock. Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.

 

Water Donkey

I’ve been struggling to write.  Not wanting to put proverbial pen to paper. If I did you see, I would have to find a way to say that I had made fun out of Farm Life, and well Farm Life bit back and made the most fun out of  me.  It started quite innocently a week ago when my darling (now past tense) husband suggested that my youngest children and I accompany him to one of the most rural Provinces in our country.  It was planned that we would stay in a scenic / rustic / flowery words space, while he worked with local NGO’s.  Awesome.  A break away, a bit of sunshine and time with my kids.  Scenic views and clean air.  Away from the hustle and bustle. I imagined my kids frolicking in the sun, lazy naps and a scone with my tea in the afternoon.  So I diligently packed, got the kids done, and tried not to scream at my youngest daughter who asked every single five minutes when we would be leaving, 48 hours PRIOR to departure.

I should have smelt a rat when on Monday, when we needed to leave, we couldn’t go as the car required 4×4 clearance to clear the driveway.  I shrugged it off and packed extra snacks as this lovely farmy place would probs be a bit far to get bread and milk from the shops.  Off we went with my well curated pack of the family, and South African “padkos” (food for the road) and something just I don’t know, curdled in my stomach.  I thought I should inspect the place we were going to a little bit further.  This um, “picturesque” home is located in the Highlands, it had cute pictures and rated really well from previous visits until it said two things: 1) Instructions to reach the property are only available on request and 2) that showers were heated twice a day via a Water Donkey.  The Water Donkey is a contraption which heats water via fire.  Making fire.  Hmm. I immediately made my husband stop the car and made him explain in clear, mental illness friendly terms, why the actual strong word we were heading to a place where I was required to make fire and what was an actual few more strong words water donkey?? Who is the donkey? NO words.

After reaching the Water Donkey Farm, we soon learnt that the hosts held an outdated perspective on the Farm.  For example, the Water Donkey was not lit twice a day.  No. That only happened when the awesome Farm Worker stood close-by to the faucet room while you showered.  Also, when describing local wildlife, and saying that the majority of it would be in the actual house and that you shouldn’t “disturb it”, you really need to spell that out upfront, because as a person who takes drugs that sedate them, well I just didn’t want to feel unnecessarily itchy or be a nuisance to the local in-accommodation aviary.  I went to sleep, praying no birds would come and tried to laugh it off as fun.

The next day I decided to make the best of it, made the family breakfast, and played with the kids.  I even managed a sleep on the porch, until my youngest daughter woke me up because she was bored.  Yes.  And it took gargantuan effort to not react unfortunately.   But we ended up playing Ping Pong, Twerking by the Pool and eventually Salsa Pong, and other variants.  We played Scrabble, talked about family memories and made some new ones.  We even had a glowing night tiara that Dad was the most proud to wear.  And at the Farm I learned one thing that I had never mastered before.  That there was no pressing nothing other than being together, being happy together (even with grumpy old me).   I don’t know that we will be returning to Water Donkey Farm.  But it’s certainly warmed me.  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.

 

Farm School Cum Laude

I was today years old when I learnt that there was something like Farm School.  And that farm school apparently only went to the end of standard eight (does not know international equivalent) and I was gob smacked.  Gob smacked for three main reasons: a) that there was this prestigious level of education I could have claimed (this is my highest level of education), b) why the petunia I hadn’t already checked in permanently (going from student to master zen farm instructor) and c) that there was a Farm School. Farm School.  What the butter did they teach?  What the oink?  I imagined lessons in the basics of baking bread, mathematics of manure, and how to hoard / de-wool / vaccinate unruly animals, which increases with difficulty with each year of the School.  A cranky horse could canter the life out of you if you’re not careful.

The thing that struck me was how wonderfully I would fit in there… Well with most things.  I would not for example ride a horse.  No.  A tearful humpty dumpty riding a heavily laden horse.  No.  I would be made into a meme.  But there were other things about a farm kind of environment that would appeal.  For example, the lack of access to electronics.  A respect for time.  The concentration and dedication to one thing at a time. Doing it right the first time.  Because on the farm, the milk / bread / butter etc. all come from you and your hard-working hands and if you don’t do it right, it looks like the closest shop is far away.    I think also think that the ability to really, really be quiet is important.  Now, I’ve only visited farms (once) and watched Pioneer Woman (regularly) to get this picture but it was enough to suggest that there was a peaceful quietness in which I could live.

As you all know I have been struggling of late, it’s been tough and it’s been hard.  I’ve a lot wished that there was a canterkerous horse I could set on many people.  What’s a group of horses again?  An angry kick of cantering horses?  That’s the kind I needed. And the anger and irritation has flared so painfully internally, so repeatedly, so overwhelmingly that I just wanted to sleep.  And a lot of me still wants to do that.  A lot of me still wants to give up.  BUT then I would not be true, horse yielding Farm School Alumni equivalent.  No.  The butter must be churned, cows milked, etc and all of that Farmy stuff I’ve equivalently learnt through mental illness (none enjoyable) but more importantly because I am trying to muster all my academic expertise to tell my mental illness and friends to um, Butter Off.  I am a Farm School Cum Laude.  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.

Walking where Angels Fear to Tread

Hello Friends, so many encouragers (thank you) and what looks like an increasing number of followers. This warms me but has made me think that I need to be upfront and post regularly an upfront disclosure.  On this blog: I commit to, advocate for, vent / whinge and intricately attempt to frustratedly describe what I experience and the complete and utter absence of mental health where I live.  Accordingly this has a baring on what I personally experience and talk about which may be inappropriate for sensitive readers.  I’ve always had a potty mouth. And perhaps you will smile or identify in some way or other. If you do, please tell me. I learn in talking to you and reflecting on my own experience.The grim reality is that Mental Health in my world is unnecessary, does not address poverty or hunger, nor any other life threatening ailment.  Sure feels and is treated that way.

You see, Mental Health is like the forgotten part of the neighbourhood. Where people live in deplorable conditions, the wrong side of the tracks, the people stuff had happened to that had hurt them and that probably needed the most help of all. The houses and people with too many holes.The extra people.  The ones that didn’t really fit anywhere else.  Or so they were told.  In this place, people like me can only afford  disappear and not be considered a burden. It’s a cold and lonely place. Where you are numbed from feeling to protect yourself.  And though I looked, I concluded this was and is a place where even angels fear to tread.  I’ve felt the most angel-less after close to a year of trying to undertake steps to get my medication, trying to see a psychiatrist with too long no care periods in between, fluctuating moods and grating levels of irritation, bad sleep, and a terrible appetite.

Relative to many people in my country, I am probably doing well.  At least I have some form of care, and I’m trying my best to be happy, happier at least for my youngest daughter who doesn’t understand the angry outbursts I feel horrible about as soon as they erupt. And honestly, I just need some softness, the equivalent of lavender pillow spray, for my heart and mind.  I’d also pay good money, scratch, cookies, for the angel of sleep to sprinkle just a bit of rest.  And perhaps a little feather or two, so I’d remember in the morning how it had happened.  For now, I wrote this.  I said something.  I’m not sticking to being silent. And that’s a start. Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.

 

 

 

 

Embracing Silence

* Trigger Warning *

Hello Dear Friends – I haven’t written for a while for practical and other reasons.  I’ve been adjusting to meds, recovering from my interface with the public health system and um, weathering a mood relapse recovery with THREE teenage children who NEED to go to school so I can continue to love and miss them.  I’ve cabin fever at an astronomical level in addition to an ongoing, loud buzzy,  lovely internal sandpaper like irritation which I feel intimately.   I’ve much more to complain about, but I wonder if that’s really what I want to communicate.  I’d like to believe that I’m not ungrateful, I’m just tired and frustrated. Frustrated to the point of not wanting to try anymore.  Of not wanting to get up anymore. It’s too hard.  Too tiring. And it never goes away.

One night this week in the early hours of the morning, I sat up and cried hot, angry tears.  I wailed and asked why I had been beset by something that I often find difficult to aptly describe.  Something that can’t really be treated, how you are told that the prognosis is not great no matter what you try. How it takes you over no matter how you try and how inconvenient this is when it happens.  And even when I started to articulate what was wrong and needed help after an extended period of being quiet, it made things worse not better.  Either my family would tip-toe around me, my children would pat me while I am asleep, or talk to me loudly as if that would make it better or more understandable. I get left out of conversations, am referred to in the third person, and the number of soul-destroying “sympathetic” smiles and pats I’ve received took more off me than what they added.

The funny thing is though that many around me who are supposed to help and support, take from me in ways that hurt even more when I’d hoped they’d be the ones looking out even more so. I am both a patient / psychiatrically disabled but only when it suits them.   My few little belongings are ruffled through,  things taken I know were there, and being told I had forgotten because well, you know, I am ill, my mind is broken and thus there’s no me, so, so what? It’s like taking a packet sweets away from a kid – if I’m that – and returning half, trying to convince the child there was always that much left.  My intuition, upon which I have relied my entire life, is dismissed because I am Bipolar now, eyes rolled and I am silenced because I say and do too many inappropriate things. I just want to sleep and stay asleep.

For today, I don’t want to try for a world that never tries back.  That doesn’t just try to walk in your shoes, but in your sleep deprived, taunted body and mind which knows no rest. Instead, through this great and painful instruction, I’ve come to believe it’s better to embrace silence. To be quiet again.  At least there I am respected, not broken and not conveniently “most likely to fall apart”. Hello Silence my old friend. Be part of those who support us opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.

Wading through Adversity

Hello Friends, it’s been a difficult time and honestly, I’ve been battling to cope. Our electricity has been cut, I’m adjusting to new meds, and our children are all on holiday. Hmm. I’m struggling to see the wood for the trees and to have a teachable spirit. How can those affected learn more by experiencing greater affliction?? It’s winter here and I’m feeling so cold… Inside and out. What do you do in times of trouble? Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t. I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.