Coming off Risperidone Day 4

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running in the elements

Well I have logged 7 runs with Nike+ totalling 21 kilometers. Not bad for my almost-the-start three weeks of running again. I would like to run more but have been plagued by shin splints, sore knees and rainy weather. I have run in the rain once though, and admittedly I enjoyed it. There is something freeing about running in the elements, like it washes away negativity and brings a sense of renewed beingness.

Starting to run again was a decision I made as my weight hit the 90s – kilograms, not generation. Mr. A assures me that BMI is meaningless nowadays, but I was shocked to see mine in the overweight range. If nothing else, the BMI is something that I know from weight gain issues in my early 20s. Slogging the hills every day and eating loads of salad tapered my waist line then, but I unfortunately can not feed my ten month old salads, so instead I am trying hard to reduce my portions, and also reduce the amount that I drink. Reduction, not elimination and also being gentle on my time. I hate cooking at the best of times so really want to avoid multiple meals if I can help it! I think elimination of alcohol and ‘bad foods’ will come when I am ready, and I am still not ready to say farewell to my daily glass of red grapes!

I guess I am writing about this because body image is something that has plagued me since having Master X. Amidst friends’ assurances that the weight was natural and reminders of the marathon effort my body had gone through to grow, birth and then feed my baby, I could not help but look in the mirror and lament my once size 12 figure, now squeezing into size 16. These changes that I am making – diet and exercise – is not limited to body image, but also sense of wellbeing. I feel like weight is not only literally, but also figuratively being shed. I have managed to lose 4 kilograms since beginning running almost three months ago, although until a month ago it was really sporadic and at the whim of my mood and the condition of my body. As my joints have strengthened I am able to run longer and faster, trailing 4.5 kilometer ‘long run’ once per week at the moment, with twice or thrice weekly 3.5 kilometer runs. It is truly freeing.

So in an attempt in really integrate the basics of ‘healthiness’ I have signed up for the How To Get Your Shit Together In 14 Days: Wholesome Habits 2 Week Challenge. I’ve printed my logs and am hoping for this rain to pass. I hate working out in the gym and they are expensive visits for a casual!

I’m excited about the challenge, but will need to alter my expectations. For example, it is just not realistic to expect to sleep 8 hours a night for two weeks with a ten month old!FullSizeRender

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Going to bed

Sometimes the sleep is just the hardest thing in the world. The cycle starts after tea time, I can feel the adrenaline pumping, the anxiety creeping in, the knowing that you are going to fight this, that you hate the delicious, sweet experience of slumber and that you will do anything to try to prolong its inevitableness. I walk the bowl and spoon (so little and plastic in bright colours) into the kitchen to leave on the bench. I will later return to put the scraps into the compost and the utensils into the dishwasher, but for now they lay obsolete, cold and lonely on the bench top. You chatter away in the chair, seemingly relaxed after your bath with dad where you played and gurgled, splashing wildly and freely like a bird in a puddle.

I creep slowly back to the chair and reach to unbuckle the clasp that is holding you to its hard plastic base. I did not bother to put the tray on the seat this time as I am still in control of feeding you as you have shown no interest in self-feeding, so there is little mess. We even did away with the bibs months ago, deciding that they were cumbersome as you always would just rip them from around your throat before we even had the first mouthful of food on the spoon. I swiftly collect you from the seat as you let out a delightful giggle, and start t make our way down the short, narrow hallway and toward your bedroom. We reach the door, adorned with the poster I made you a few weeks ago at Play Up at Old Parliament House, the white lettering spells out your name in contrast to the dark blue background. Now I think, did I choose those colours unconsciously because you are a boy? Who can know.

You arch your back and see that we are entering your room, and you immediately begin to squirm. My hands instinctively grasp tighter as I try to ensure that you do not drop out them and onto the ground. I gently reassure you with some shushing and rocking and you quieten. I grapple to find your pacifier in the bed amongst the bed sheets and gently pop it into your mouth. Shush, shush.

But this is when it begins, for you do not shush, instead open your mouth wide to let the dummy escape and you begin to release this scream, this screech that reaches decibels that only my heart can hear. And my stomach turns as I know, I realise, I remember that the night is long and your cries will only intensify.

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Running, smoking… parenting

I feel like being a parent is like running. Or quitting smoking. I try and try and fail, and then one day (hopefully) I succeed. What this success looks like changes day to day. Yesterday it was that nice firm poop that made my day a success. Today it was being able to cuddle Master X for over ten minutes after a very long day at childcare. I still haven’t gone for my run today though, couldn’t find the motivation plus my lactose-free stomach was in pain after consuming a caramello koala at about 4pm. Sometimes it is a wonder that we get anything else done besides being a parent. In fact I would say that my headspace has been all up in the parent zone for the past two days while my body has attended work. By work I mean that which I get paid to do, rather than the two work days I spend with my son for which I don’t get paid.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about this running and quitting smoking analogy a lot lately. Mainly because I have indeed started to run again, beyond the type of running where I dash to get Master X before he damages himself or something, or the mad tripping over my feet as I try to get the house tidied before Mr. A returns home after work. Also it stems far beyond the running I do in my head as my brain spins itself through experiences of anxiety, tearing worn tracks that groove and weave like a snake into a burrow. It has been a hard slog, these last two weeks of running. Amping myself up to even just leave the house as we now knock on Winter’s door in Canberra. I do not listen to music when I run, just get lost in the breath and let my brain cycle amok with thoughts and cycles. I see this as my best therapy, but also my hardest.

And I try to keep going the next day.

But then days like today, I am faced with my brain and body ailments winning. Like quitting smoking. There would be days on my journey to quitting where I would excuse myself and allow myself… just a drag. I’ll just have a drag and then I’ve done it, the craving will still be there, but I’ve placated my yearning. I’ve let myself have a toke on the sweet breathe of death (sorry to any current smokers here). And it does nothing to stop the yearning, in fact it makes it worse. In the same way, missing my run does not make me feel better, in fact it makes the thought of needing to go for my running therapy even stronger. More prominent in my thought patterns.

Stop making excuses.

As a parent there are times where I think ‘opt out. You don’t have to give 100%’ and then I turn the television on. All the hype around not letting kids have too much screen time then blares in my thoughts and I have guilt.

Even when you have it or do it, listen to that negative voice, it does not quieten the ‘should be…’ voice. It is like they are at war. And the pull is endless.

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I have been feeling a bit nostalgic lately. Things, places, events, facial expressions, a piece of music… they all trigger something in me, a sense of sadness, but also hope. Knowledge that I am improving, that I am getting a handle on this space called motherhood with a mental illness, but also knowing that I will never be complete again. I mean that I can see now that the journey of life is continual and that I will constantly change and grow.


IMG_2222.JPGThis week I took Master X to Questacon. An expensive adventure, but upon entry I heard him make noises of excitement that I had never heard before, it was money that I felt was well justified. As I watched him engage in independent and group play I noticed that everything is fluid and that there is no permanence in life.



  • My psychotic episode was not going to be a solid feature
  • My current anxiety will also pass
  • My knowledge of myself will evolve
  • My relationship with the people I love will grow

IMG_2228.JPGSometimes change can be positive as in the example of Master X splashing in water and making everyone around him laugh and join in. Change can also be scary as I venture into the unknown such as starting a new job, or tossing a ball down a cone and into the dark abyss.


I am trying to flow with the change and to see that things can, and will change. Maybe this will help my anxiety. Maybe it will open space for new anxieties. Maybe it will make my life more enjoyable and valued.

I am not sure how else to move through this time. Last night we were woken four times by Master X.


This is not permanent.

Things will change eventually.

They may even change tonight. But it is difficult in the midst of the change to be able to see the light at the end. Last week I felt suffocated by the anxiety of starting at a new workplace. This week I feel slightly better, more in control, less panicked. This week I feel slightly anxious but I can see light. I am the ball that has reached the bottom of the cone and I might be starting to come out the other side.

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Dancing with darkness.

It is all I can do to sit here tonight
It is all I can do to not run and fly
The week has been so bad and a fright
That this glass of wine is saying more than just why

It started out well, this week I meant to say
With all giggles and wiggles and blue skies above
But the anxiety crashed in over my head when it lay
On the pillow at night next to my beloved

I am a terrible poet, so I am going to stop here. Alas it should have told where I am at on this cold Friday evening. As I explained to Mr. A, all I want to do is eat fish ‘n chips and then curl up in bed with my book (teen fiction – Allegiant). It is not that anything in particular has occurred, but more that I am finding this process of starting again in a new workplace to be rather confronting. I am finding it difficult to control my anxiety and in fact, it looks to be taking over my nights.

Oh how I miss those nights when all I was anxious about was how many times Master X would wake up.

I have been for a walk today and feel slightly better, although I managed to miss an appointment for specialist for Master X due to my cloudy head, and ended up bursting into tears to Mr. A when I realised that I was parked at the wrong medical centre some 20 minutes away from the intended appointment.

Oh my.

But I made it through the week, the first week, the hardest week, the longest week and I can enjoy my wine and television because, well, my brain is flooded with anxiety and I just need to learn to accept it. Cause I did everything I could to change it, but sometimes you just need to dance with the darkness.

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Returning to work. Why I’m drinking wine on an early Sunday afternoon.

I returned to work officially about a month ago. I recall clearly the personal pain I felt and the tears I shed over the impending day. It seemed that as the day loomed ever nearer that all the worries I had been experiencing about staying at home like boredom, constant wingeing, not coping and loneliness dissipated and in fact being at home with Master X became absolutely delightful and felt wholly natural that final week before returning to work. As I left Master X at day care for his orientation I was crippled from the thought that I was abandoning my baby, and that going back to work and leaving him in child care was actually the most unnatural thing that I could do for us. I felt guilt. Mumma guilt.


So how do we do away with that guilt to be the best that we can be, in whatever the circumstances and for whatever reason? This brings me to why I am drinking at three o’clock on this Sunday afternoon. Apart from the fact that it is Mother’s Day, I am partaking in a glass of wine because I am scared of starting at my new job this week and want to relax somewhat and take my mind off the upcoming day of revelation. I am enjoying and savouring the glass as it represents to me all that I can do, including going to work for three days and looking after my son for four days a week. It reminds me that I can and will do this, and that it is okay to be scared. I need to allow myself some time out, even if it is not in a ‘socially acceptable’ manner.

I am going to have a glass of wine, breathe and remember the process that I went through when starting back at work last month, because this situation is not that much different and there are good ways to think about some of these factors.

  1. New Role

When I returned to work after nine months of maternity leave, I was going back to a new position in a whole new area outside my expertise. I was faced with a new set of discourses and practices and expectations. I had to relearn systems and unpack new ways of working too. Similarly, motherhood was also a new role with different rules, understandings and tools of the trade. I drew on my personal resources to learn what these roles meant both personally and professionally. I discovered the art of asking for help without using the word ‘help’, and when the defer to management. The new role after maternity leave required me to really step outside my comfort zone.

The role in this new job is similar in that it is not in my area of expertise, however I do have the skills necessary for the job otherwise they would not have hired me. I have been trying to read up on the area though so as not to seem like a complete outsider, and also as I am aware that there is an expectation for me to hit the ground running. All excitement.

2. New Relationships


The thing that people don’t tell you in the ‘returning to work after maternity leave’ articles is that everyone will have changed. Even if you were like me and managed to stay in touch with colleagues during your period of leave, the way that they work would have undoubtably altered. In my case there was a whole new set of staff challenges as I moved into a new area. I ached for my old area and it took a couple of weeks before I considered that I might have to let go of the old ways and relationships. This was very difficult.

I am nervous about building new relationships as I worked in my last workplace for about 6 years so I knew people across a variety of sections. I will be walking into a whole new workplace with no connections. I hate the feeling of being judged and trying to fit in. It just does not serve my personality type.

I just need to breathe and remember these are people too and they just want to get to know me so I should go in with the same mindset.

3. New Office

I have just walked into my boss’ office on the morning of the first day that I am returning to work. I sit down and the task is carefully explained to me. I am escorted to my new office… a shared office with some twelve other people, but no-one is there. In fact over the next four weeks, the only day that there are people there consistently is my last day! I had to get used to holding in my farts, eating outside and people being able to see my computer screen.


As I mentioned, I am moving to a whole new workplace. I have to learn how to get there on time as I need to drop Master X off, drive and then ride my push bike to avoid paying for parking. I also need to get used to not twelve, but some forty people in the same room. But collaboration is key to a healthy workplace and it will be good to be around other people for social security.

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
My Petit Canard
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