Thursday, 16 April 2015

I called the Tax Office.

This morning, I called the Australian Tax Office.

Like all wonderfully impersonal call centres, within seconds I was subjected to the grand tour of options. 

"If you want to discuss outstanding payments or settle a debt, press 2..."

As I'm listening, I started to feel nervous. Not because I have a debt to settle or because I've committed paperwork felony, but because somehow, deep down, I start worrying that I might have. 

I start to think, "but what if I didn't read the PAYG information thoroughly enough? And what if they've made some changes to the superannuation rate recently, so that my payments have been calculated incorrectly? I checked that last week, didn't it? DIDN'T I?!"

I reckon this behaviour goes way back to high school. There, I cemented the occasionally helpful but predominantly stressful thought patterns associated with fear of getting stuff wrong.

When it comes to sitting exams (of which there were plenty, back then), I can see how this is a good train of thought to have. It means you're not at risk of neglecting areas of the syllabus when you study. It means you don't neglect study, period. Instead, you work hard. You want to do well. You aim high. You don't accept failure.

But in the real world, getting stuff wrong is ok. It's normal. It's how you learn. And it's a really good way to grow. I can see that now. It has taken me a while, but I got there.

So as I listened to the automated options and waited for mine to come up, things were... calm. For the first time in a long time. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Going on medication.

Recently, I made the decision to go on medication.

It had been a long time coming. I had been more or less coping for years, but a few things still remained problematic. Things like sleep. Recently, my psychiatrist explained that it's possible to correct sleep dysfunction with the right medication, and that now might be a good time to try it, given my lack of success in correcting sleep issues "naturally".

For that reason, and a few others, I decided to give it a go.

Before I talk about the changes that have occurred in the last few weeks, I would just like to thank one of my friends. I know she will be reading this, so this is a good opportunity to let her know how much she has helped me reach what has become an incredibly transformative decision. Along the road to compliance, she was never critical of me or my objections to taking medication for mental illness. At the start, I was incredibly opposed to taking medication. I was scared. I was resistant as hell. I made up all kinds of baseless justifications as to why I wasn't having any of it. But she patiently waited, emailed, messaged, checked in, CARED, for as long as it took. She stuck right by me, through the whole darn thing. And continues to do so. If only there were more people like her!

Since going on medication, I have noticed some big changes. For one, my sleep has definitely improved. I am able to sleep through a night without waking up, which is like, amazing. Seriously. Words can't even describe how wonderful it feels to wake up in the morning and feel rested. Like I've actually slept. Because I have!

Something else cool -- I'm legitimately excited about life now. I know that sounds lame, but truly, life is exciting to me right now. I look forward to stuff. I want to go out. Do things. See people. Sure, it doesn't always come off, and there are times when I feel tired and lethargic, but it's so much better than it was. I feel like I've got my life back.

One other awesome thing has happened as a result of going on meds, and I wasn't expecting it. I feel good in myself. Comfortable in my own skin. When I speak, I know the words are mine. They don't feel foreign. They don't feel like I'm making stuff up just to fit in or be accepted. The things I say and do are real reflections of who I am, because I feel okay now with being that person. It's awesome.

My love of cats remains unchanged. Things are looking up.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


In the past two days, I've spelled two people's names wrong.

One was due to an unwanted autocorrection on Facebook. But regardless of the reason, I never let myself off lightly. ("I should have checked before I sent it! It's someone's NAME for goodness' sake!")

Names are pretty important. Pronouncing them right, and spelling them right. Get it wrong, and it essentially communicates that you can't even be bothered to spend a few seconds ensuring that what you call a person is actually correct.

I know this, because people spell my last name wrong all the time. The weird thing is, I'm never offended. I'm always like, "well, they were obviously in a rush when they wrote that email" or "it's my fault after all, I'm the one with the weirdly spelled version of Carmen."

Reactions aside, spelling people's names wrong creates other problems. Like when someone sets up your email account when you start a new job. If your email address isn't correct from the get go, it'll have to be corrected eventually, because it's not like you're going to remember to spell your name wrong whenever you log onto the server. Also: certificates. A certificate is null and void if it doesn't have your actual name on it.

Here's another name-related issue that can cause problems: nicknames. I never shorten someone's name unless I've heard or seen them refer to themselves by the abbreviation first. There are a couple of reasons why I take care here. One is that some people HATE nicknames. (And hey, when people hate stuff, it's best to avoid it.) The second reason is that some people are only cool with being called a nickname but their partner or specific friends/family. So if you launch right in with a "Hey Robbo!", you be overstepping some line you didn't even know existed.

The name game is a tough one to play, because there are no consistent rules. Like life, really. And what works for one person doesn't work for another. Just like how some Sarahs like to be called Sar, but this one doesn't :)

Monday, 2 March 2015

The drum.

It is an understanding
Few may reach.

We gather here,
Streets apart.
We seek connection
Through thoughts we never share.
Lonely days, distant sounds,
Lonely nights; minor feats
Are major wins
For us.

Because for us, the cells slow.
Minute by minute, hour by hour,
They slow.
And what was once so creative, so contemplative,
Is now an empty drum.
A drum
Beating without a cause.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Only the lonely.

I have been thinking about the difference between being alone and being lonely.

Based on what we learnt at primary school, being alone is the less bad one. It's the one where you're physically by yourself, but that's cool because everything is ok and someone's coming home later on to have a chat and watch TV with you.

But being lonely? Well, that's more serious. To be lonely is to miss people; to be unable to reach out. Lonely people are sometimes even a bit unsure of how to change their situation, so that they become less lonely.

If I've got my definitions correct, being alone and lonely are two things I've been this weekend. (Does that make me alonely? Are made-up words even allowed on blogs?)

Right now, nobody is home, and I'm sort of wishing somebody was. I know that there are people outside home who are around on weekends and who would be happy to chat, but it's hard to reach out.

Reaching out is hard, especially when you know that you could have seen aloneliness-busting people at pre-arranged things, only you didn't go, because you are alonely. Aloneliness is a tough one to crack.