solo in sydney

Down and Back Again
November 12, 2010, 8:06 pm
Filed under: dear diary, depression

J got home last night far later than he’d promised. Before the door had even closed behind him, he pointed to the kitchen counter and asked in a loud, authoratitive voice:

“How many of those have you eaten?!”

He pointed to a box of chocolate muffins on the kitchen bench. I attempted an unphased shrug and answered that I’d eaten two.

He tsked and rolled his eyes, as if this was the most despicable offence I could have committed. As if it was disgusting that in the course of the day, I had eaten two 50 gram slices of pre-packaged muffin.

“Tomorrow, you’re not to touch them. Or this, or go near here, or here!” he declared as he pointed to the pantry, the fridge, and the freezer, respectively.

His words were slightly slurred, so I knew that he’d been drinking, but let’s not beat around the bush. When I met J, I was tiny. I’ve always been petite, and I’ve never had to try particularly hard to be so. My metabolism has kept me at a healthy level for the most part of my life. But there have been deviations in both directions.

The latest one involves my medication. Almost all anti-depression medication involves one side effect in common; weight gain. As someone who has tried various medications over the years, this has never phased me in the slightest. Somehow, my metabolism kept working. Not unsurprisingly in retrospect, the medication kept failing, or at least underperforming.

Until now. Until this medication. I’m doing well. I feel alright. Not great, but okay. But that side effect, the one that had never even bothered me before, the one that I had waved off to my doctor, had taken hold.

I’m 10kgs above my normal weight, and about 15kgs over my ideal weight – the weight I was when I met J.

I’m not tall by any means, so when I carry extra weight, I feel as though it shows. When I tell people how much extra weight I’m carrying, they don’t believe me, but the comments are made nonetheless. Last Christmas, a normally somewhat tactful relative suggested that I could donate all my “ridiculously expensive” clothes I no longer fitted into to her daughters. When my sister came up behind me and subtly re-fastened a button that had come undone on my dress, the aforementioned relative exclaimed “Oh, thank god someone has finally fixed that, it’s been bugging me all day!”

Hard to believe that said relative is even remotely tactful under normal circumstances, but unfortunately it’s true, which made it all the more difficult to hear those things from her. Never mind the fact that when I had bought the dress many years earlier, I had to take it back because one of the buttons was completely faulty and wouldn’t do up at all. That wasn’t the point. It still hurt. A lot.

She obviously had no idea the causes behind my weight gain, at that stage only a mere 5kgs. J however, knows the whole story. He knows that my appetite has increased tenfold since I began this latest medication. He knows that I’m exercising more than I’ve ever exercised. He knows that I’m trying to be healthy once more, and that I’m not doing very well despite my efforts.

Tonight, for the first time since my high school days, I binged. And then I purged. I downed soft drink and chocolate and alcohol and sweets, and then I knowingly, deliberately brought it all up again. Even as some part of me screamed that it was stupid and pointless, another part of my mind calmly told me it was the only way. And I listened.

And despite the glaring obvious, it wasn’t until I started writing this that the two events became linked, that my brain finally made the connection.

Everything had been okay. Since my return to Sydney, things with J had generally been pretty great. But the last 48 hours have been far from it. These are the times that I find so easy to forget, to block out when I really need to remember just what I’ve been through to be with this man I love.

I hope I remember this time. I hope the pain and the shame remains with me, so that next time I won’t make any excuses for him. So that next time, I’ll be strong enough to leave and never return.


So Long, Sydney
September 22, 2010, 5:41 pm
Filed under: depression

I’ve packed up a suitcase and I’m jumping on the next plane to my home town, but Sydney most certainly hasn’t seen the last of me. To be truthful, there’s not much anchoring me to Sydney anymore, but I love it nonetheless and I expect to miss it greatly.

I haven’t decided yet when I’ll return, or if I’ll return permanently. At the very least, I’ll need to come back to pack up the rest of my belongings. I thought I’d be more sure that this was the way to go. I’ve been set on this course of action for so long, but now that it’s staring me in the face, I’m wavering. Despite the struggles, I love Sydney, I love my life here, my apartment, my neighbourhood.

I’d be lying if I said J didn’t play a part too. When I booked my one-way flight a few weeks ago, it was like he flicked a switch and went back to the amazing guy I fell in love with. I’d like to think that I’m well aware that it’s too little, too late, but now I’m more confused than ever.

I looked him in the eye and told him that I wasn’t in love with him anymore. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but it needed to be done. And yet even faced with this, he still wants to be the one to support and care for me, and love me no matter what. When I finally lost my job a fortnight ago, he was incredibly supportive, understanding, and positive.

I feel like I should know better. I feel like the terrible times we’ve spent together should be jumping to the forefront of my mind, telling me that it’s just another hollow promise. But when I try to think of those terrible times, it’s all just a vague blur. All I can remember are the good times, the great times, and I don’t want to let go of that.

Yesterday as I attempted to pack for an indefinite period of time, it hit me all at once. I’m really doing this. I’m really packing a bag and leaving. After months of being sure this is what I wanted and needed to do, a sledgehammer of doubt took my breath away and struck me to the floor. I stayed there for what felt like hours, crying and gasping for air.

I thought there’d be clarity.

I thought there’d be relief.

Instead, there’s just grief, regret, doubt, and heartbreaking pain.

I don’t know if I can do this.

August 23, 2010, 3:03 am
Filed under: dear diary, depression

There’s no other word for it. Flat. This week has been a whole lot of nothingness. I can’t get enough sleep, and when I’m awake I can’t get enough food. I’m positive I’ve already stacked on at least 5kg in the last 4 weeks alone. My so-called New and Improved Anti-Depressant is not treating me well.

Hopefully it’s just a teething process. If you’ve ever been on any kind of anti-depressant medication, you’d know that it’s a hit and miss affair. Some medications will treat you well, some will drag you to hell and back before you start feeling better. Some just drag you to hell and leave you there, dumping you out from a moving vehicle and flipping the bird as it speeds away. Many bring you back in some distorted zombie form.

Currently, I’m feeling flat. Not great, not bad, just hovering somewhere below alright. Comfortably numb. And nocturnal. I’d be far more comfortable if I could just keep regular hours and return to my day job, but my body just won’t allow it. No matter how many alarms I set, I sleep until the sun rises and sets again. My snooze button gets a workout. Most mornings I will continue to hit it every 8 minutes, from 7am all the way through to whenever J gets home after work. Every 8 minutes. It’s not even worthwhile sleep, yet still, I can’t break the cycle.

One more week. I’ll keep setting the alarms, keep getting my work clothes ready every night, and keep telling myself that today, today will be the day I start to get better. Again.

The Wringer
August 16, 2010, 1:27 am
Filed under: dear diary

Even though the last two months have been an eventful, tumultuous blur, I’m still right back where I started and very little has changed. I feel like I’ve been through the wringer, and for what?

My grand plans to move out with my friend haven’t eventuated. It’s still an option for me, there’s still a bedroom with my name on it if I want or need it, but as the last two months have also included my friend breaking up and getting back together with her boyfriend a number of times, it only seemed fair to give her a little space to sort out her own woes before I added mine to the stack. Nevertheless, she’s been an amazingly supportive friend and I can’t thank her enough. Having a friend in Sydney has been amazing. Not just a casual acquaintance, but someone I can call at any time. It’s a huge relief.

Work is a different story. My attempts to go back to work regularly have been hit and miss. Mainly miss. Just when I feel like I’m getting back on my feet, I’ll be knocked down by a cold or a migraine or an inescapable bout of insomnia. Somehow, work remains patient with me and I still have a job to return to. After my last lengthy hiatus, I was afraid my time had finally run out, and whilst my return was a little rocky at first (one person was particularly cool towards me), it wasn’t long before I felt right back at home. My boss is utterly amazing.

On the relationship front, I’m beyond confused. After a few weeks of endless, explosive arguments, I told J I was done. We were due to fly to my hometown in a few days, and I made it clear that he was no longer welcome. I was going to pack my bags, get on that plane alone, and seriously consider whether I was ever coming back again.

He begged for one last time, one last try. He pleaded for me to get back on my feet, get settled on my new medication, and take it from there. I agreed, and generally speaking, things have been better. Much better, in fact. J has been more thoughtful, loving and affectionate. He really is trying. Some days, like today, he’s absolutely amazing and I remember why I fell in love with him.

But on the whole, I still regret giving him (and ‘us’) this last chance. It feels as though I’m just delaying the inevitable, and it wracks me with guilt. I don’t know if I love him anymore. We used to say ‘I love you’ every day, but now I can barely look him in the eyes when I say it. What’s worse is that he knows I feel this way, yet he still stands by my side. Even on the days that I’m at my lowest and my absolute worst, he tells me he loves me and he goes out of his way to show it.

For the last few weeks, the good days have far outweighed the bad and we haven’t argued since we agreed to give it another try, but for some odd, unplaceable reason, it still feels like the beginning of the end.

So here I am back at square one, and I still feel like I’ve been through the wringer.

The Turning Point
June 22, 2010, 11:56 pm
Filed under: dear diary, depression, sydney

The title is quite optimistic, perhaps foolishly so, but damn it, I’m feeling optimistic. Maybe I’ll look back on this moment and laugh (or curse) at how uncharacteristically positive I was, but for now I’m just going with it.

I caught up with a friend on the weekend. That really shouldn’t be a post-worthy event, but after struggling so long with depression and severe anxiety, it’s actually a huge achievement. But that’s not all. I have a friend in Sydney, a true friend who will open her doors to me even though I haven’t seen her in years, even though I’ve cancelled on her too many times to count. She heard me out, my whole pitiful story, and her arms and her doors were instantly open to me. I get teary just thinking about it.

Suddenly, I have another option. One that fortunately doesn’t include relocating back to my home town. It includes a friend who lives only a few suburbs away, a couch while I get back on my feet, and a room of my own if I choose to stay.

I’m blown away. I’ve always known this friend to be amazing, but we were never amazing friends. We’ve known each other since high school, but we were never all that close. Out of the blue, and a simple catch-up over coffee, I can see a happier future. I’m not 100% decided just yet, but I’m actually excited. The idea of being single, really single, in Sydney, is exhilarating. The idea of ‘going it alone’ with a friend by my side makes me smile from ear to ear.

For the first time in as long as I can recall, I think I can do it. Perhaps not just yet, not right now, but soon. And I won’t be doing it for J, I won’t be doing it for S, I’ll be doing it for me. That long elusive spark of hope and belief is finally back.

When One Door Closes
June 16, 2010, 11:35 pm
Filed under: dear diary, depression

If you’ve come across my Twitter stream, you’ll know that it’s been a strange few months for me. Even more strange than usual. I’ve been back at work, for the most part, but I still have the odd week or two where I can’t find the energy to get out of bed and out the door. Yet somehow, I still have a job. I’ve been working from home on occassion, tackling small projects that are both trivial and fulfilling.

I’ve been back to my therapist twice now, and our sessions have taken an interesting turn. I won’t go into details just yet, but if we’re on the right track, it could be a very positive step for me. My medication is currently getting me by, but it’s far from perfect. The sedative effect I need at night renders me dazed and incoherent come morning. As my dosage increases, it becomes more and more of a struggle to push through it and get on with life. If my doctor is right about his current hunch though, all this could change.

Things with J have been about the same. Some good days, plenty of bad days, far too many horrible days. We had friends stay with us over the long weekend, and I truly lost count of how many times he told me to fuck off or shut up. There was nothing joking about it either, it was cold and brutal.

Money is still a huge issue. I’m paying him back hundreds every pay day, yet it’s not enough. He wants me to pay it back faster, yet he won’t give me a total because he doesn’t think I’ll be able to reach it. I’m begging him to give me a goal, something to aim for, and he keeps telling me I just can’t do it. I don’t know what he wants from me. Oddly enough, throughout the constant complaints our financial situation, J can’t stop talking about a trip overseas later this year. He keeps insisting that he’ll pay for me, but I know how that goes. If I agree to go with him, he’ll think he has a free pass to treat me how he wants, and he’ll use it against me at any opportunity. He’ll call me ungrateful, and ask why I said yes, forgetting that he’d begged me to say so.

In other news, B is gone, and attempts to stay in contact with him have been shut down. It was all completely innocent, mind you, but it was nice to talk to someone who made me laugh and feel special, if only for a few minutes a day. That door is closed, but as is often the case, another door has since opened.

For some time before J came along, I was trying a long distance ‘thing’ with a great guy. I don’t know if you’d call it a relationship, because although I took it very seriously, I was never convinced that he did. When I met J, I had a difficult decision to make. I honestly felt like I was cheating on long distance guy, let’s call him S, by even entertaining the thought of going on a date with J.

For reasons that I can’t even begin to understand in retrospect, I chose J. I told S immediately. I wanted to be honest with him, but I didn’t want to hurt him. I didn’t even know if it would hurt him or even bother him in the slightest, as he always kept his cards close to his chest. His reaction was fairly mild, but eventually the hurt started showing through. I didn’t want to rub salt into the wounds, so I ceased contact. We went from talking every day, to the occasional email or text. I spoke to him briefly when I found out he was dating again, and he said she was a great girl, but she wasn’t me.

I always thought he was joking. I never took him seriously. And all these years later, I’m realising what a mistake that was. We’ve been speaking again, and he assures me he was absolutely serious. He still is. He’d still drop everything and move across the world to be with me. I don’t know how I ever chose J over him, but at the same time, I’m not sure I deserve a second chance. A lot has changed over the last few years, and my emotional baggage has increased tenfold. I’m not in a good place and he’s largely in the dark about what’s been happening. He deserves better than this, better than me, but I don’t know if I can say no.

The Waiting Game
April 29, 2010, 9:40 am
Filed under: dear diary, depression

I’ve lost track of how long it’s been since I went to work. It’s been a matter of weeks, but I honestly can’t recall how many. After constantly emailing my boss and telling him I still wasn’t well enough to work, I finally received the response I’d been expecting for months. He’d hired someone else. That someone else would be sitting at my desk, in my chair, using my computer, from the next week onwards. My boss told me to take another two weeks off to rest and recover, and then “we’d talk”.

My heart sank. My chest ached. My eyes stung.

I’d replied almost straight away and basically begged to come back, but I didn’t receive a reply. That was two weeks ago. A week ago, I emailed again, hopeless and pitiful, saying that I was feeling better, that I was ready to go back to work. I lied.

And still, no response.

He’d finally had enough. I’d been replaced. I understood. In fact, I was surprised that it had taken so long to end like this. I cried. I thought about all my amazing colleagues, some of them true friends. I thought about my incredible boss, who had been so supportive and understanding to the very end. I cried even harder.

Then I thought about how I was going to find another job. I thought about the anxiety of applying, of interviews, of knockbacks and rejections, and hopefully, but fearfully, of first days and introductions. I panicked.

Then I realised I’d have to tell J. I stopped panicking, I stopped crying, I stopped breathing.

As soon as I read that first email, I decided I wouldn’t tell him yet. I’d just keep up the charade for a little longer, and then tell him once I’d had “the talk” with my boss. That gave me two weeks to prepare, but it also meant two weeks of lying to J’s face. This week, I just gave up and told J that my boss had told me to have this week off and start back next week. It was wishful thinking, but it was a lie. J was livid. He’s still livid that I haven’t been able to hand over multiple thousands of dollars to him, so this was just another reason for him to yell, and slam doors, and storm out.

This week hasn’t been enjoyable, but I’ve been coping. I’ve been keeping reasonably normal hours, cooking and cleaning and finishing projects I’ve been neglecting. I’ve been baking and gardening and checking the mail and running errands. I’ve been doing just about everything but telling J that I don’t have a job to return to on Monday. I’ve barely even been thinking about how to tell him, because every time the thought crosses my mind, I’m struck by such a violent wave of nausea that I can barely stand.

The whole disaster has been messing with my sleep, but last night I didn’t sleep at all. As soon as J left this morning, I relocated my misery to the couch and prepared myself for another day of fervent procrastination.

And then my phone vibrated, a single, innocent buzz.

An email from my boss. He’s glad to hear I’m doing better, and I can start back on Monday.