Guest Blogger, Kate is here!
As I write this, I am watching two young red wallabies that have been slowly venturing from the safety of their mother’s pouches, they are darting through the long yellow grass and to the tree line together as fast as their little legs can carry them, back and forth, back and forth along natures perfect playground.
I smile at the view from my open Sanctuary window and take a deep breath in, the spring air is heavy with the fragrant scent of crab apple blossoms and humidity, the grey sky casts a shadow of dim hope that maybe, finally, it will rain again. We haven’t had real rain in months. Our dam is the lowest I have seen it in the seven years we have lived on the farm, the parched edges lined with vacated Yabby holes and the foot prints of wildlife that visits at dawn and dusk.
My heart lies here, in rural Australia. I hope they scatter my ashes here, into the wind, so my spirit can forever watch the wallabies playing as the golden sun sets along the tree line; this is my home.
Hi! My name is Kate, I have a blog over at www.thecolourofmadness.wordpress.com . I first found the wonderful jamoalki through an iTunes Podcast search for ‘depression’. When I heard him speak I could have sworn he was reading my mind, for the first time I had found someone who seemed to understand the bizarre inner workings of my broken brain. We connected on Twitter and have been corresponding ever since.
We have decided to do some guest blog posts for each other from time to time so I thought I would start out by giving you all an overview about myself, my life story and my demons.
Bullied as a child, I was the fat kid everybody loves to hate but nobody hated me more than I learned to hate myself. Suicidal ideation has been a regular part of my life since I was 8 years old. I began self-harming as a young teen, making little cuts along the stretchmarks on my thighs to hide the scars. I felt it was a well-deserved punishment for my general stupidity but sadly it’s a hard habit to break.
I have suffered with eating disorders since I was 14, my current diagnosis in that regard is “EDNOS” which is secret code for ‘Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified’. This means I don’t fit into a nice little criteria box for the more well-known eating disorders like Bulimia (I sometimes binge but don’t purge) or Anorexia (currently too fat but I restrict). My world is limited by food, numbers and strict self-imposed rules and frankly it’s exhausting, but the blinding fear of not having control ultimately keeps me stuck inside this regimented thought pattern.
My parents were always kind and supportive but my low self-esteem and poor mental health ruled my decisions so I drank, smoked pot and dropped out of school at 15 to work in a pet shop. I moved out of home at 16 with the intention of shacking up with my 30yr old boyfriend (as you can see I was the perfect teenager). I first attempted suicide at age 16 after an argument, I think it was probably with my boyfriend but I can’t actually remember. It was an impulsive move and it (clearly) didn’t work, but I woke up again the next day and didn’t want to admit how I felt, so didn’t tell anyone what had happened.
After breaking up with said boyfriend I hooked up with a flat mate, we moved in together and at just 17 years old I fell pregnant. Teenage mother hood with a dose of post-natal depression on the side is tricky stuff to deal with when you are too frightened to ask for help, luckily my flat mate also turned out to be my soul mate and my rock, he helped get me through that time and the turbulence that would follow.
My other big affliction is Bipolar Disorder, I don’t really know if I am technically type 1 or type 2 it depends on who you ask; I have been given both diagnoses at various points. It means while like Jp I suffer from deep depressions I also have extreme highs, or ‘mania’s’ which can be enlightening and euphoric or destructive and terrifying. I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2012 but in hindsight, I have had symptoms of it most of my life.
Like Jp, suicidal thoughts never truly leave me – they just vary in severity. I have attempted suicide a few times in the last five years, my last attempt was in 2015. I have been hospitalised twice, once for a week to control euphoric mania after an accidental overdose and once for mixed mania where I attempted a nearly successful suicide while inpatient and spent a further two months on the psych ward. The sad truth is that even today, I am only still alive because I feel obligated to be, not because I want to be.
For the sake of my family I am trying to stay as well as possible, but lately I have been struggling again. I attend weekly therapy sessions with a psychologist, see my psychiatrist every two months, take medications and try to exercise regularly. It helps, but the demons are always there.
Writing is my biggest outlet and so I journal and blog and write the odd article for The Mighty hoping that sharing my story will encourage others to do the same. I want to say a big thank you to Jp for letting me post here today and also for all the time and effort he puts into the Depressed Not Dead podcast, being able to connect with other people in the mental health community online has been a saving grace for me and finding the podcast was like finding a little piece of myself on the other side of the world, just knowing that I am not alone in this struggle makes the dark days easier to bear.
Until next time,