Reality of Recovery

There are so many people still suffering in silence. That’s more astonishing when you consider how many people use the internet every single day and have access to knowledge and support and help, yet it does not always seem like enough.

One of our aims with Don’t Lose Your Grip is to give others who are going through or have been through the struggles that we are facing a platform to speak openly and honestly and most importantly in a judgment free environment. Our weekly #TopicsToDiscuss does just this.

Tonight we back to our routes a bit and reminded our followers that we do these discussions because we have been there… It really is that simple, we have been in similar situations and we want know how much opening up about these issues that are considered taboo has meant for our recovery.

From a personal perspective: I haven’t really been eating in a healthy manner and I can feel it throughout my body. I can feel my energy levels dwindling and my control slowly dissolving. I know that this is not acceptable and that I can’t go back to the beginning of my eating disorder struggle. I can’t go through all of this pain and loneliness again. I can’t start all over again. I can’t give up all of my triumphs in one foul sweep. I simply can’t! For the last week I have been eating only my 3 favourite foods. And only eating half portions… This scares me. I know how hard I have worked to get to this point of not allowing my eating habits to control me; I know how many times I cried and begged for help without anyone being able to read the signs and I don’t want to go through it again; I don’t want to go back to that lonely place where I hate myself.

By now I’ve realized that I am not alone in my struggle and whatever I’m going through, there is probably someone else out there who feels to same. So we asked our followers to share their recovery fears with us. These were some of their fears 

–          Not knowing when you will relapse

–          Fearing the relapse

–          Not knowing if it will ever happen again

–           The fear of losing my strength

–          That doubt in my mind that I never did fully recover and it will happen again

–          The fear that I’ll never actually beat it, that it’ll just be sitting there waiting for me to mess up again

It comes down to realizing that there is still so much about eating disorders that people have not been able to articulate or understand. These are all things that you won’t find on a recovery pamphlet. People don’t talk about the reality of recovery openly enough. This sets us up for a dangerous fall because we have no idea what to expect and that builds so much anxiety and fear. We need to talk about these issues more openly! We really need to get to a stage where people do not judge you for the label of your disorder.

And then, as soon as you open up about your disorder, everyone wants to ‘fix’ you. And as they through their ignorant comments about, they don’t realize that they are actually hurting you a lot more. This is why we asked our followers what the worst advice was that they have received regarding their eating disorders. This is what they shared

–          “You’re doing it for attention; you’re being so selfish”

–          “Just get over it”

–          “Just eat one”

–          “you need to get some chips inside you”

–          “You’ve got to have SOMETHING!”

–          “When you’re at work, leave your issues outside”

–          “Go on a diet”

–          “your being pathetic now, grow up”

–          “you are too fat to have had an ED”

There were a few extra implying that you can just switch your disorder on or off whenever you feel like it. Plus a few where they were told that it was their choice to suffer from an eating disorder. These ignorant comments saddens me… if you do not understand what someone is going through, don’t patronise them by spewing out the first phrase that comes to mind. If you really want to help, give them a hug and tell them the truth: tell them that you don’t understand and that you just don’t get it. At least that way we have the opportunity to give you more information and let you in on the other side of ED; the side that no one really talks about.

One of our followers commented that some think we do it for attention. So when people die from EDs, is that for attention seeking too? It really hit home how much these simple little phrases can affect our choices and lives. Simply by allowing an ignorant and negative comment in, we’re placing ourselves at risk. Going on a diet to reduce the amount of food intake or your weight can result in an over correction and lead to anorexia or bulimia and all the way back to over eating again. Finding a balance is hard under any circumstances but when you have this shadow of an ED constantly following you around; it makes the subject a lot more sensitive. When someone mentions food, your mind automatically races to figure out what they are implying about you; how this mention of food will affect you and what everyone else expects you to do about it or how they expect you to react to it… That is a lot of thought that goes into just one bite. There is a lot more to an eating disorder than just eating.

The emotions that are involved are far more powerful than the physical aspects. The scars that we hind behind our ED are the ones that last the longest and you can be on the healthiest eating plan in the world but if you do not take care of the emotions behind it, you cannot succeed. We asked our followers which things have resulted in their relapses. These were just a few

–          SCALES!!!! They always renew the obsession with getting on multiple times a day

–          Magazines like Vanity Fair which forces the idea that being super, dangerously skinny is beauty

–          Too many bills to pay and pressure of everyday life

–          Normalisation of junk food always tells me I’ll be able to eat it this time… because other people can

Realising that the things that most people do not give a second thought to affects you this much is tough… Trying to remove them from your life or finding ways around the pressure is just as tough and when you have to do all of this while being judged, it a hundred times worst. That lead us to ask what has helped our followers find the strength to keep fighting and we got two very clear answers

–          Support from friends or family

–          Music

Having someone who can remind you of all of your strength and beauty when you cannot see it, is extremely powerful. Having someone to go to when nothing makes sense is very useful and knowing that you can build up a relationship of trust where they see you for more than just your diagnosis, is truly amazing. Support is a big part of recovery.

We have been big advocates of the power of music from the get go. We have always believed that music is just one more way to express how you feel and remind you that someone else has also been there and experienced the same trials and emotions and they made it… If they can do it, so can you. Music gives hope when words fail. Also the reason we’re dedicating our #InspirationalSongOfTheDay competition to #20DaysOfRae by Rae Earl.

So what did this 2hour conversation between friends in a safe environment mean? Well, maybe nothing to you… But for me, it was great to talk about the things that society tells me to keep secret and it is nice to be reminded that you are not alone every once in a while. It validates the feelings I have by showing me that I am not the odd one out. It reminds me that I have a lot of support.

Ok, so it’s not exactly a world changing event but it’s a start… It’s a place for people to express what’s on their mind without being afraid of the judgement and everyone is welcome.

Love Never Fails

I’ve been suffering from depression since the age of 7. But I didn’t realize this because well, I was 7 and back then people didn’t talk about it.

I barely understood emotions, let alone the fact that they affect each of us differently. I had a good home: both of my parents loved me; I had a dog; I got A’s in school and I had friends and played sport… but I couldn’t understand why I was so sad all of the time.

I tried to distract myself… by playing with my dog; always doing my homework and dragging my friends outside to play sports. It worked, sort of… I had enough reasons to pretend to be happy. I had enough excuses to hide my pain and fear behind smiles. But then I got a little older and at 14 I realized that all of my friends were in that constant giggling phase and how much it annoyed me. At first I thought it was just because it’s sort of annoying but then I realized it’s because I couldn’t. I couldn’t giggle or laugh out loud. I actually became one of those people who would substitute a laugh by saying “Ha, that’s funny”. I couldn’t remember what my laugh sounded like and to make it worse, all of the things that I was able to use as distractions were no longer working. Instead of giving me a momentary relief, they were just reminding me of the fact that I needed a relief from being me!  And so, I had to find new things to help me find or rather fake ‘happy’.

I changed sports; took up drama and debating and I was even a cheerleader for 3 days before I came to my senses – I have no rhythm and I am not flexible! I changed subjects and my career path and I secretly hoped that it would get better. It didn’t really. I mean, I had a lot of fun and made really amazing friends and experienced things that I will remember forever but when I was alone, I was still me and I was still sad and it still hurt.

But I was finally old enough to understand psychology and with the help of some older therapists I got to take a closer look into my life and figured out a few things that I could make peace with and let go and a few months after my 15th birthday I had an amazing revelation of forgiveness that helped me breathe a little easier. And for a while I was only sad sometimes. It was around this time that one of the therapists who’ve known me for quite a while mentioned to me that she noticed that was suffering from manic depression and that she wanted to help me. The thing was, I didn’t want to be suffering from manic depression and I was scared of what helping me would entail. So I brushed her off and said that she was overreacting and that I was fine.

That’s when I realized that my hiding techniques needed to be updated. I filled my schedule to the extent where I would pretend to have watched TV shows that my friends are talking about when in fact all I did was spend 15min reading TV guide between all of the other activities… Thinking about it now, it seems really crazy but to me, it was the only way I could ensure that I had no time to think by myself or about myself. The distraction was great, ok not really. It stressed me out a lot! I was so busy all of the time and never slept more than 3hours a night and as productive as that part of my life was, just thinking about it exhausts me. And when High School came to an end, that’s when my little plot went up in smoke…

I was really stressed and lost and couldn’t figure out how to ‘be normal’ or at least calm.  I spent a summer getting back to family and nature and that was pretty cool. I found a couple of reasons to smile and it made the bad times seem not so bad. And then my grandmother was diagnosed with stage 4 Cancer, my dad died, my life changed and I moved to London. I started a new life and hoped that I could run away from my depression. That didn’t work… As much fun as my new environment was, depression was creeping back in and this time its hold was a lot stronger than ever before. When I finished studying I started to see my life flash before my eyes and I was that confident that I was where I needed to be anymore. So, there I was: lying on the bathroom floor hoping that something would happen and magically it would all make sense again; that everything that I had been through would not have been for nothing; that I was strong enough to go back and face my life. Sadly that was not even close to what my mind wanted. I would spend days not sleeping and then crash by sleeping for 30hours straight. My eating habits were, well erratic to say the least and getting out of bed was a massive effort let alone getting out of the house. I did have a few friends who never gave up on me and kept dragging me out. I’m really thankful to them, because without it I would not have been able to make it through those years. But just like before, none of those mini distractions were able to ‘fix’ my depression and the thoughts that were stuck playing on a loop in my mind…

So once again, I changed my surroundings and moved to the other side of the world. I thought that maybe simpler would be better and that if I could just go back to the basics, everything else would make sense again. That’s not exactly what happened. Instead I just had way more time to myself and the loop of negative thoughts in my head just became louder. It was also during this time that one of my friends committed suicide. This rattled me a lot! More than most of the people in my life realized. See, to me, she had so much more to live for than I believed I did. And I was so close to the edge myself. Push the thoughts of ending all of it out of my head was getting harder. If Lacey couldn’t cope, what chance would I have of living a happy life? Or even just surviving?

But once again my friends came to the rescue. One simply talked to me about his problems and allowed me to realize that I was not completely alone in my misery, plus it gave me the opportunity to put my painful experiences to good use by giving him a little bit of advice. Then there was Chrisselle, after everything that she has lived through, she managed to turn it into something productive. All of her pain and anger channelled into making a difference. This life saving difference goes by the name of Don’t Lose Your Grip.  It saved my life. Chrisselle saved my life.

Not only did I have a way of coping with the loss of a friend and a reason to give a positive meaning to this pain but I also had something to do when being stuck in my head got too much. And one day as I was talking to all of these people on the DLYG twitter page, people who were also going through the things I was feeling, I realized that this was a great opportunity to talk about our fears and fight stigmas publicly. One thing lead to another and that’s how #TopicsToDiscuss was born. It’s an open platform that allows all of us and the DLYG followers to share their views and opinions on everything from Mental Health issues on Monday to Eating Disorders on Tuesdays and Self Injury on Wednesdays.

Sometimes it’s hard to talk about these things openly and honestly but the way I see it, if we don’t, who will? We have the opportunity to educate those who have experienced our thoughts by sharing the thoughts we have kept secret for far too long. Occasionally we ask questions we do not even have the answers to and every once in a while someone new will join the conversation and we’ll be able to change their negative perception of mental health or eating disorders or help them see beyond the scares of selfharm. That, to me, is a victory.

Every conversation we have brings us one step closer to an accepting world. One without judgement.  One where love never fails…

Just one more bite

I’ve been having food issues this week. It’s not that I dislike food; I just don’t like how it makes me feel. Do I have bulimia: definitely NO, I’m nauseas every day of my life but throwing up is not something I even consider to be an option so purging is definitely out of the question! The loss of power over my body is just way too much for me to fathom. Do I have anorexia: no… I don’t think so… but maybe…

 

I use to define Anorexia as an eating disorder that stems from wanting to be thin or seeing yourself as fat. I have discovered that this is only a tiny part of the definition: like most eating disorders it’s all about control. When you’re young and you have parents and teachers and sometimes even friends telling you what to do and the media telling you what is expected of you, it’s easy to feel like you have no power or control over anything in your life, which is frustrating considering the most important word in that sentence is ‘your’. One thing we can all control is what we put in our mouths… of course there are other things we can control like our attitude or how hard we try or our dreams and pretty much every other action but when you’re 12, you don’t really see it that way, all you can think of is your mother telling you to eat your broccoli. So taking control back by not eating or over eating or pretending to eat (purging afterwards) seems like a good idea that will prove to yourself that you are not worthless or just a bystander in your own life… This lie is what makes anorexia, all eating disorders in fact so dangerous.

 

Anorexia has a bit to do with the media image that tells us anything above a size zero is ‘plus size’ even thought they completely forget that zero is not a real number, it’s just a place holder… But that is a whole new conversation. This messed up media image we are so eager to follow has resulted in anyone who thinks they are fat actually seeing 25% (that is a whole quarter) of yourself more in the mirror and thus fuelling the notion that they are overweight. Not eating also has the added long term effect of messing with your biology so that your body starts rejecting food and making it physically difficult for you to eat nutritional portions. It gets to the point where scare tactics like ‘when your body runs out of fat and food it will feed off your muscles’ doesn’t even help even though most of us know that our biggest muscle is our heart and is also the biggest target aka causes death. It’s easy to say just eat your food but when your head is telling you that your body has enough food and anything else you’re eating will just make you feel ugly, it is really not a convincing statement. It’s easy to say that someone is not fat but when you look at yourself and all you can think of is every single bite you have ever eaten vs. every step you have taken and the pile of food in your head seems a lot bigger than the footsteps you took, it’s not a compelling argument. It’s easy to say that it’s all in your head or just get over it, but it really is a lot more complicated than that…

 

The strangest part about Anorexia is that the signs are not always as obvious as everyone thinks they are: you do not have to be skin and bones in order to be anorexic; you do not have to talk about fashion or your weight in order to be anorexic; you do not have to know the calorie count of a piece of lettuce to be anorexic; you just have to allow food to control you once… Recovery is even more confusing to those around you because you might be within your weight limits and eat every meal or at least those that people see and you might even eat more than your friends can fit onto a plate but that’s all because you’re terrified of slipping back into that place where food controls you…

 

So my story is a little complicated: not sure if I have anorexia or not, what I do know is that I hate food. I love cooking it and smelling it and the social factor that goes with it but actually eating it annoys me because I know that it will make me feel bad and not just emotionally because I let food and social pressure and my past control my choice to eat rather than be strong and say that I’m not in the mood for that particular bite at that particular moment, all because I’m afraid, but also physically. See I have this little excuse that can be blamed for my physical feelings. The thing that’s so frustrating is that I allow this little syndrome that is not even worth more than 2 lines in a medical dictionary determine how I live my life.

 

I have Gilbert Syndrome and it’s not really supposed to be a big deal but I was diagnosed with it at the age of 17 and it did change a lot of things in my life. Basically it means that my body doesn’t produce the chemical that collects the toxins in my blood that goes to my liver to be disposed off so it just stays in my body and is sort of like a never ending jaundice just varied in ferocity. It’s not as bad as an actual liver condition; it is not lethal but there isn’t a cure just some medications I really don’t want to take every day of my life treating the symptoms. So I spend most of my time watching my skin to see when I need to lay off anything fatty or remotely sweet or that even resembles unhealthy in any way and drink a lot of water. Everything I put in my body gets stuck there until I flush it out so I have to be careful of what I put in. Most people will see this as a good thing since it motivates me to be healthy but when all of your friends are eating pizza and you have to say no because if you don’t you will feel the consequences for the next 3days, it sucks and most of them don’t understand it so they jump to the conclusion that you have an eating disorder so you end up trying to prove that you don’t by eating stuff that makes you feel bad and psychologically proves to you that food equals feeling bad… Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way trying to justify my choices by blaming my friends for not understanding something I had trouble understanding, I just want you to know that it wasn’t a choice I made overnight or that I actually sat there and decided to hate food, it just built up and now I feel like I am doomed whether I eat or not.

 

I can go days without eating and it won’t even phase me, most times I don’t even run out of energy… eventually I’ll get a really bad headache and be forced to remind myself that starving my body is bad and the headache is it’s way of telling me that it needs something, that it needs food and that I have to consider the consequences of not eating and how dangerous it is. So I eat… and then I feel bad and then we start all over again. So I originally made up my mind to only eat things that my body wants to eat. But here’s the thing, firstly sometimes your body can be indecisive or you just have no idea how to read it’s mixed messages or you just don’t have every single thing on the planet in your fridge and secondly it’s quite exhausting to envision how everything is going to taste and make you feel and calculate if there are other products you could eat or drink that might counteract the negative feeling. So you end up standing in front of the fridge to that point where you’re actually getting a chill and then giving up because you have no idea what you’re body wants you to eat… resulting in not eating. And after you’ve done this for a month or so only eating the odd bite here and there you realize how far you can push your body before it feels bad. And you keep pushing it. Also, feeling bad because you did not eat is so much better than feeling bad because you did: see, if you feel bad because you ate something then it is your fault for introducing the toxins into your body but if you feel bad for not eating it gives you hope that the next time you have a bite of food to eat it will feel better and you can still get control back from your body… it’s better than the alternative.

Before I go any further, I just want to point out that I am stating what is going on in my head and what I have been through, in no way do I recommend or even endorse any of this! In fact I would encourage you to not follow my example at all, a medical opinion or 2 is always the best way to go. If they are not giving you enough info or giving you help that is actually working for you, challenge them, it is your life after all.

 

So I hate eating food and on a daily bases I try to remember to eat at least 3 times a day just so that I can say that I am eating and have some resemblance of healthy and ‘normal’. Half the time one plate of food takes me 6hours to eat because I would much rather be doing anything else so I allow myself to be distracted. However when I get back to that plate of food I use the simple logic: have one bite to prove that you are still in control, just do it, just eat that one bite. And some days it really takes a lot of work and convincing just to not spit it out as soon as it touches my tongue but at least at the end of the day I know that I will be able to live a lot longer than if I did not eat and put my body through that kind of strain that destroys my muscles and organs.

 

I know this sounds very mixed-message-like but that’s pretty much the ongoing conversation in my head and I’m not sure it will ever really end, but for now I just want to make sure that I can get through the day. That I will live long enough to have this conversation again tomorrow… Ultimately the battle between food and how I physically feel is a daily challenge and when the psychological confusion is brought into it, it can get really complicated and frustrating. So do I have anorexia? Well some would say yes, I would say: I don’t like labels so no… I don’t think so… but maybe…

Be The Difference

I would like to introduce you to an amazing woman. It’s actually hard to believe that she’s still only 19. She’s just a kid but she’s already doing great things.

Maybe that’s the point: she’s still a kid. It seems like as soon as we cross over to our twenties we stop caring. I mean, obviously we care about our families and our jobs and stuff but it becomes very much centred on ourselves. We stop trying to change the world the way we wanted to when we were little kids. It’s like we lose that drive and start thinking small. Well Chrisselle isn’t there yet and considering the amazing team she and Hammy makes, I don’t think either of them will ever end up like most of us: forgetting about the fight for world peace.

Now before your mind starts dwelling, I’m not suggesting that they have found the answer to world peace but then again maybe they have… By doing everything they can to promote happiness. So let’s get back on track: this post is about one particular act of spreading happiness to those who need it most. Check out Chrisselle’s blog post about the charity concert she’s planning in aid of Suicide Help-lines “Don’t lose grip”.

So if you are anywhere in the UK, make sure you get involved! This is good and this is important. If you can do anything, anything at all to help someone else: just do it! I know I’m not doing a whole lot at the moment but I’m still that little kid who wants to change the world. I honestly don’t know one single person who is completely happy with everything in the world, so why have we stopped trying to change it? Why does it seem like we’re all waiting for someone else to do it for us?

Recently I moved to Zimbabwe and since I’ve been here I haven’t really done a whole lot to promote change but I haven’t given up yet. I’ve spent the last 9 years talking about change and how beautiful this country is, which is why I felt it was time for me to move here and do something to make sure my children will one day be able to experience its beauty. If Chrisselle can go big and focus on more than just her personal life, then what’s stopping the rest of us? I’ll tell you: nothing!

Ghandi said: Be the change you want to see in the world. So you, yes you reading my ramblings, get off your butt and be the difference! Don’t complain about this hectic world we’ve inherited, find a way to fix it! Don’t just sit back and watch as people you care about give up on life and themselves, get active! We have this amazing advantage over all things bad: numbers! There are more of us in this world who believe in peace and love and happiness than those who don’t, we just have a tendency to forget that. This is just one project out of hundreds that you could get involved in, why this one? Because this one is right at your doorstep, actually it’s just a click away! Why are you still reading my blog?! Go to http://Chrisselle.com/?p=137 already! I really won’t mind…. Go!

We have a shot at being the difference in someone’s life. If this event benefits just one single person by providing them with someone to talk to when they have lost all hope, then it’ll be so worth it! If you have any free time what so ever, why not get in contact with your local help lines and go be the difference. Start an after-school chat group and give someone else the opportunity to talk about their lives to someone outside of their life. Get involved; don’t let more people lose their grip on life. You have no idea how much a hug or smile or just a few kind words mean to someone who feels all alone in our messed up world.

Please be the difference! You know you want to…

AM

Backwards Evolution

I was having a little trouble seeing the gorgeous sunset right in front of me, so sat down and wrote this: Backwards Evolution

*****

Sitting here in the garden

And I start to wonder

When did the sound of a boy playing ball become an irritation?

When did the sound of my heart beat drown out the early birds tweets?

 

Isn’t this life meant to be better?

Isn’t evolution meant to bring peace?

How did we manage to screw up nature?

Claim to uphold it but we ignore it

 

Walking on the beach

Fully dressed, can’t wait to get back to the office

When did the beauty stop being beautiful

When did the roar of the ocean fade beneath the thoughts in my head?

 

Isn’t this life meant to be better?

Isn’t evolution meant to bring peace?

How did we manage to screw up nature?

Claim to uphold it but we ignore it

 

Driving down the highway

Telephone poles and mountains all become one blur

When did a mountain shrink to the point where I can miss it?

When did the sound of the radio become the crutch I use to refuse the silence?

 

Isn’t this life meant to be better?

Isn’t evolution meant to bring peace?

How did we manage to screw up nature?

Claim to uphold it but we ignore it

 

Finally make it home

Not even the dog has enough energy to greet me

When did I become obsolete in my own life?

When did life start controlling me? Am I just the pawn?

 

Isn’t this life meant to be better?

Isn’t evolution meant to bring peace?

How did we manage to screw up nature?

Claim to uphold it but we ignore it

 

Just about to enter dreamland

A place I can control and envision a future I want

Maybe I can find inspiration or just a little bit of hope

Maybe, just maybe it’s not too late for me to be the difference

*****

Sharing my view,

AM

Consulting My Thirty Year Old Self

Just a little something I wrote while listening to P!nk’s I’m not dead album.

Thought I’d share it: Consulting my 30 year old self

*****

Don’t forget now; remember the person you use to be

All the things you fought for, the things you dreamed you’ll be

I don’t know you yet but if you’re anything like me

All your dreams will most definitely be reality

Even failures by others standards make you happy

For you’ve lived your life fully

 

Look back on the kid that fell of the swing

Got back up and learned how to jump

From a little one struggling to reach the light switch-thing

To the women she’ll become

You get to look back and see it all work out

 

Don’t forget now; remember the person you use to be

All the things you fought for, the things you dreamed you’ll be

I don’t know you yet but if you’re anything like me

All your dreams will most definitely be reality

Even failures by others standards make you happy

For you’ve lived your life fully

 

Look back comparing the 10 year old who cries to her dog

Learned to trust herself and fight her own battles

From the girl who wakes up terrified walking through the fog

To the women she’ll become

You get to look back and see it’s all good

 

Don’t forget now; remember the person you use to be

All the things you fought for, the things you dreamed you’ll be

I don’t know you yet but if you’re anything like me

All your dreams will most definitely be reality

Even failures by others standards make you happy

For you’ve lived your life fully

 

Look back as a teenager has no time to just relax

Juggling plates like she has 20 hands

From a young adult who laughs so no one sees the fear behind the cracks

To the women she’ll become

You get to look back and see me pull through

 

Don’t forget now; remember the person you use to be

All the things you fought for, the things you dreamed you’ll be

I don’t know you yet but if you’re anything like me

All your dreams will most definitely be reality

Even failures by others standards make you happy

For you’ve lived your life fully

 

Look back while a kid makes adult decisions heard in a fable

Speaking words of wisdom that force elders to listen

From a minor who has learned to be brave and vulnerable

To the women she’ll become

You get to look back and see us reclaim me

 

Don’t forget now; remember the person you use to be

All the things you fought for, the things you dreamed you’ll be

I don’t know you yet but if you’re anything like me

All your dreams will most definitely be reality

Even failures by others standards make you happy

For you’ve lived your life fully

 

Look back to now where I sit here thinking of the you I haven’t met

Wondering where I go from here and how long it’ll take

From a women in training who’s not quite there yet

To the women she’ll become

You get to look back and see your younger me

 

Don’t forget now; remember the person you use to be

All the things you fought for, the things you dreamed you’ll be

I don’t know you yet but if you’re anything like me

All your dreams will most definitely be reality

Even failures by others standards make you happy

For you’ve lived your life fully

*****

It Hurts

Honestly I don’t remember writing this at all but then again generally I’m highly emotion when I write so here’s a very honest piece of me: It hurts

*****

I walk through this house

I look through that album

And I don’t see myself

I don’t recognize anyone in those photos

Because I can’t remember the moments

It hurts too much to feel

I can only see the person I am now

The people you have become

Those who do not know him

And those who see only him

When they should be seeing me

I drive down these roads

I notice every house, every building

And pass a million memories

I wish that I didn’t have the attachments

Because I have to breathe before I can speak

It hurts too much to feel

I can only see the person I am now

The people you have become

Those who do not know him

And those who see only him

When they should be seeing me

I avoid the restaurants

I turn the corner

And look at the same mountain

I can not hide or even pretend to forget

Because it all reminds me of way back when

It hurts too much to feel

I can only see the person I am now

The people you have become

Those who do not know him

And those who see only him

When they should be seeing me

I go away, far away

I always find a reason to come back

And try again, try to face you again

Because you are a part of me now, forever

Even though it hurts so much when I feel

*****

Sharing my view,

AM

Zimbabwe Elections

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything about Zimbabwe. Mostly that’s because this country is just like any other: we have flood warnings and more summer rain than we’ve been use to in the last few dry years; we have the latest songs on iTunes and the exact same problems that come with living in the 21 century as anyone else. However, in typical African fashion, we’re a bit self-involved…

What I mean by that is that our news only includes 5min of international news and even then it’s mainly based on Africa. So the world could actually collapse and we’d probably only find out about it next week. Instead we are very focused on what’s happening here, right now. One of the major things is this year’s elections.

President Robert Mugabe has been in charge of Zim since their independence 30 years ago. He may be old and rumoured to be even more ill than most people believe he’s been for years but he’s not going anywhere. A lot of people are obviously opposed to him and feel that he is unfair and wrongfully giving certain people privileges they did not earn. He’s also been hugely criticized for behaviour such as going shopping in Paris while half his country can’t afford to buy a loaf of bread. And then there’s the fact that he’s been president for 30 years even though his last 3 elections were less than above board. In the last election he ran unopposed because his adversary wanted to reduce the violence in the country and with protest in mind; he withdrew from the ‘unfair elections’. This forced the world to wake up and look. They had no choice but to step in with sanctions and the Queen of England finally revoked his knighthood a few years ago.

This is all part of resent history but let’s get back to right now. You’d think that with half the country not being able to pay their bills and no municipal water [everyone has their own bore whole] and regular power cuts/ load shedding [most people now have generators] that the citizens of Zimbabwe would be thoroughly fed up and NOT vote for Mugabe again. This is not the case! Firstly there is still a lurking gloom of intimidation, if you don’t vote for dear old Uncle Bob you die… To be honest this intimidation has reduced or at least isn’t as open as it was 10years or even 5years ago. But the fact that the previous elections were surrounded by so much violence has left that threat in the back of the minds of every citizen who wishes to rebel. This knowledge of history and desire not to repeat it or end up like the ‘rebels’ of the last decade is a far more effective scare tactic than anything the current government could come up with.

You need to remember that if the current government is over thrown or loses the election then most of the ministers and party members will be subject to charges of in-humane behaviour. It’s like they are currently still under the protection of ‘post-war’ so they can get away with bending the rules and disregarding the human life but as soon as they are no longer in charge, they will be held accountable for their actions. This provides a very strong motivation for them to remain in control!

The other important factor is the opposition party. They suck. I really can’t put it any clearer than that. I’m not a news blog, so if you want to know how exactly they have managed to become more hated than the current government, you should check out The Herald or whatever news network you prefer. I’m just here to share my view; share what the people around me feel and the things I see that you on the other side of this computer screen can’t possibly know… So the opposition party has managed to disappoint everyone and through their internal power struggle, they have managed to alienate their voters.

In Africa our loyalty lies with our families. We will do anything and everything to protect them and give them the best life possible. But that is as far as our loyalty goes, we don’t have loyalty to our governments because they have proved to misuse that trust through all of the years of corruption. We obviously have loyalty to our country and the physical land, so if a war would break out all our differences would be placed on hold and we’ll be one hell of a force to reckon with but in everyday circumstances, if our government doesn’t live up to their promises, we want them out! We don’t care who our parents voted for or what this party has done for the country in the past; we only care about now and the future. If they can’t deliver, we just won’t vote for them.

In Zimbabwe the level of ‘alleged vote rigging’ is of such a high elevation that people have lost faith in the process itself. So half of the people I know are simply not going to vote. These people are absolutely NOT supporters of the current government but since they have no intention of voting, it’s 20% of the country that Mugabe’s people win by default [if they don’t vote against him it almost counts as a vote for him]. The fact that the opposition party is in a bit of chaos and having their own power struggle is not helping them gain support from the citizens of Zimbabwe. The fear being that they are headed down the same corrupt road Mugabe chose to walk. See they are fighting about power and status within their party and Zimbabweans have seen it enough to know that once you become power hungry, you don’t go back. So far the MDC has been able to portray themselves as human rights activists who want equality for all Zim citizens but as their internal power struggle started to rear its head, people realized that they are not righteous, they are just like most other African leaders: power hungry. Obviously the current government has their fair share of in-fighting but since no one really expects anything from them, we just don’t care…

If the villain in a movie steals candy from a baby it’s not that shocking but if the hero does it, you can’t help but feel betrayed. That is where most Zimbabweans currently find themselves: trapped between hating the current conditions and feeling betrayed by the people who once offered them hope. Considering their dissolution with justice, it is no surprise that most are choosing “the evil we know above the one we don’t”. The way they see it, Mugabe has unequivocally messed up this country but it’s going better than it did 5 years ago and it’s still getting better so maybe, just maybe Mugabe isn’t that bad… The hope being that the worst is over. If they allow someone younger and someone who doesn’t really have the eyes of the world on them, to gain power like those currently on the opposition party, history could repeat itself and this country could end up going through the exact same controversy 30 years from now. That is something this country and its people will not be able to survive!

The current government has its issues but at least the people of Zim are use to their issues and can anticipate what is coming. If a new government that’s proved to be equally power hungry, steps in now, they will have new strategies and unpredictable game plans that will cause far more stress and concern to the voters. So here’s the line I’ve been dreading to write all the way through: Zanu PF can win a fair election come June. Yes, you heard me: Robert Mugabe’s government won’t have to cheat or even make threats to win this year’s election.

There really aren’t that many people left in Zimbabwe [I could give you numbers from a census done a year ago but they would be incredibly inaccurate as so many un-happy Zimbabweans have left the country already]. Those people who should be voting for the opposition because they are truly unsatisfied with the current government has left the country; those who are left and not a fan of the sitting president have spent the last 15 years being threatened or their families murdered so they’re not willing to risk their livelihood for someone less than honourable to come take his place. Most of them agree that voting for the party who threatened you is immoral but simply abstaining from voting is the closest to a protest they can reach. Basically this election the current leaders will once again run unopposed: not because their opposition is protesting but because their voters are.

It’s terribly depressing realizing that your leaders aren’t fit to lead. Whatever you’re reasons may be, not voting is not the most effective way to bring about change. But change is scary and unpredictable and unfortunately in this case, change appears to be for the worse so in an effort to reduce the usual violence that accompanies Zim elections, not voting seems to be the smartest choice…

Just sharing my view,

AM

Five Steps Of Grieving

Call it a poem, call it a song, call it a random string of words but either way this stream of thought I wrote awhile back has always helped me feel more stable when missing someone I’ll never see again became intolerable.

So I thought I’d share it with you: Five Steps Of Grieving

*****

It always gets me how they through around the phrase

Five steps of grieving, like it’s a ‘how to’ page

You don’t know what I’m feeling inside

I don’t even know, coz it’ll come and go

 

Denial is just the start of a process I must face alone

It didn’t happen; it’s not real; this couldn’t happen to me

Sitting in the dark scrolling through the messages on my phone

The light goes on and the penny drops. How can it be?

 

It always gets me how they through around the phrase

Five steps of grieving, like it’s a ‘how to’ page

You don’t know what I’m feeling inside

I don’t even know, coz it’ll come and go

 

Anger follows like a shadow that never leaves, just grow

How could I let it happen; he could’ve done more

Punch a wall and push everyone away, what else can I through?

One wall wouldn’t budge, instead embraced me and calmed my core

 

It always gets me how they through around the phrase

Five steps of grieving, like it’s a ‘how to’ page

You don’t know what I’m feeling inside

I don’t even know, coz it’ll come and go

 

Bargaining is short lived but a desperate cry to our saviour

If this is undone, I promise I’ll be better, I’ll do everything right

Writing up a contract, negotiating the favour

I can’t sign on the dotted line, because it’s a false plight

 

It always gets me how they through around the phrase

Five steps of grieving, like it’s a ‘how to’ page

You don’t know what I’m feeling inside

I don’t even know, coz it’ll come and go

 

Depression is lethal; a combination of issues to stumble threw

Pretending not to be awake, hiding in the corners of my mind

Need to find my inner voice and those who love me too

Picking up and seeking sunlight where ever it, I can find

 

It always gets me how they through around the phrase

Five steps of grieving, like it’s a ‘how to’ page

You don’t know what I’m feeling inside

I don’t even know, coz it’ll come and go

 

Acceptance alluding, mostly fleeting, not set in stone

Everything happens for a reason but so do I

Can’t change it, I feel it, through a dog a bone

I’m fine for now, with a family that loves me, knowing tomorrow I might cry

 

It’ll come and go

Love will surround me

I’ll survive

I’m not alone

*****

 AM

The Power Is Yours

I’ve been watching a lot of old Captain Planet episodes lately. That program was truly ahead of its time: environmental hazards and global warning, 20 years ago… But as a kid the phrase that got stuck in my head was always: “The power is yours!”

I was raised to believe that I can do absolutely anything and that I can change the world in whatever way I choose. Now I’m sitting here in Zim talking to guys my age or even guys 30years older than me and they are only just realizing that the power is theirs. Something I’ve known since I was 3years old it has taken them an entire lifetime to figure out…

Yes, I have always been very fortunate and my parents seemed to have done everything right when it came to raising me but even if we don’t compare these guys to me and my perfect little life, only realizing that the choice is yours when you are 45 is pretty rough! It’s definitely not like these guys are thick or something, it’s just part of their culture. You can say a lot of bad things about Robert Mugabe but one thing you have to credit him with is the fact that he has given a lot of young farmers their power back. Actually he’s given a lot of career farmers a choice for the first time in their 60year existence…

See, when you’re born as a farmer’s son, it is expected of you to take over the farm. If you were of the female persuasion, you were expected to marry a farmer who could take over the family farm and continue the tradition. Even if you have older brothers the farm is still ultimately your responsibility too and that’s it. That is your whole life planned out before you even learn how to say your own name. No choice; no options and no power… The strangest thing is that most of these farmers never even realized just how trapped they were until the government took their farm and all of a sudden they had options and a chance to do whatever they wanted.

Yeah, they have absolutely nothing in the monetary compartment and the home they’ve grown up with is no longer theirs but for the first time in most of their lives, the power is actually theirs. This land redistribution bill has a lot of downsides but nothing is without a silver lining! Zimbabweans who would never have considered leaving their country before have managed to scrape up the courage to go explore the rest of the world, something they would never have done if it wasn’t for the unintended push from their government… A quarter of this countries office workers and IT admins would have stayed on a farm even though they knew deep in their hearts that it wasn’t meant for them simply because they had no choice in the matter. No power to say no!

Having your entire life planned out before you’ve learned how to walk isn’t always a bad thing but when you can’t say no to the plan and you are powerless in your own life, it’s not much of a life. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely NOT defending the hectically enforced redistribution bill but I’m not blind to the accidental upside that came as a consequence either. It’s amazing to see a 50year old who has been struggling on a farm with very little resources and practically no rain his entire life, wake up the morning after his farm has been repossessed and actually breathe a sigh of relief because for once he doesn’t have the weight of his entire family heritage on his shoulders. To see a man who has been conformed to walk in his father’s footsteps realize that he has the right to walk on a different path. When you no longer have a farm to be responsible for or an entire legacy to uphold, you get a shot at freedom and a shot at dreaming again. Actually having the power to say: “I’d like to be a doctor” or “I’d like to live in Brazil” or “I want to manage a mine” or whatever!

Most of us take the fact that we can dream for granted but when you have never had the power to dream, it’s like discovering a whole new spark. My friends and I have this saying we live by: “People who don’t dare to dream, scare me” It really is that simple… If you’re afraid of dreaming you don’t have much to live for. While you’re busy wasting your life too scared to dream, remember that there are people out there who simply don’t have the luxury of believing that The Power Is Yours!

Sharing my view,

AM

Story Teller

I’m not really sure anyone will be interested in reading any of the things I’ve written. To be honest I’m not even sure I’ll have the guts to publish it…

Most of what I share is just everyday stuff and random observations mixed with some crazy thoughts but some of it I share because I can. There are a lot of people who live similar lives to mine but I’m not writing this for them, I’m sharing my experiences for those of you who will never have the opportunity to meet the people I know or go the places I’ve been. They may not be famous people or rare locations but they are different and amazing in their own right.

Obviously if you ever want to talk to me about anything I write or think, you know where to reach me. If you find my babbling boring, I won’t take it personally. At the end of the day I just feel obligated to share at much of my experiences with who ever will be willing to listen.

I love my life and the people in it and sometimes I feel so incredibly blessed that I almost start feeling guilty. It is at these times I am inspired to share what I’ve learned or even what I’m still struggling to understand.

I hope you don’t mind that I’m taking up perfectly good bandwidth in order to play story teller…

Just a thought,

AM

“An Insistent Optimism”: Dealing with Depression and Anxiety in Springtime

*hug*

Lucia Lorenzi

As winter starts to fade away, as the daylight hours increase, as everything seems to start blooming and thriving, depression and anxiety are suddenly thrown into much starker relief than during the cold, dark, wintry, stormy days and nights of late autumn and winter.

At first, I couldn’t quite place why spring always felt so very awful. It was absolutely incongruent: wasn’t I supposed to be as cheery as a floral-print dress, as refreshed as a cool pint of lemonade? The seasons, indeed, seem to have odd emotional mandates: the thoughtfulness and reflection of autumn; the melancholy and mutedness of winter, the serenity and sensuality of summer, and, yes, the insistent optimism of spring.

It was this optimism that made spring so terribly painful: it was the feeling of the world coming suddenly alive again, everything thawing much too quickly, and all I desperately wanted to do to stay under the…

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8 Great Literary, Book Nerd, and Storytelling Podcasts

Check it out

Andrea Reads America

I am a huge fan of the podcast medium. I listen while I clean, while I walk, while I cook, while I dress after my shower. I do not subscribe to print periodicals that run book reviews, I am not a librarian, and I no longer work in a book store, but I am a reader who is interested in what’s going on in the book world, in reading culture, and who loves a well-told story. With limited time to consume print media, but with ample time to listen, I have become an avid fan of podcasts, and my hungry mind devours the bookish and storytelling podcasts below. These shows provide the literary fix I need as a word nerd. I plan special walks or add extra chores to my list when any of these drop new episodes. I hope you enjoy them, too.

The New Yorker Fiction Podcast icon on iTunesThe New…

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A good day after a long weekend

After a long weekend of family, friends, fun and way too much food it’s not that easy to get back into the swing of things….

Today is like a double Monday! Not only do you have a long weekend to recover from, your week is shorter so you have to double more in less time. So why am I stating the obvious? Well, as hard as this day was it wasn’t my worst. I have had so many bad days over the last few years… Days that were horrible and sucked without a real reason for my misery. So when I get to walk away from a double Monday without feeling completely defeated -don’t get me wrong, I still wish that I had gotten more done today but a part of me is proud of what I achieved.

Usually by now I would be completely warn out by my anxiety. Usually my Sunday’s are filled with anxious anticipation of the negative persuasion because of the week that is upon us but I managed to allude the pressure I am prone to place on myself. And this morning I woke up and took it one step at a time rather than trying to attack an entire week’s tasks in one day. It helped.

Small things like taking a minute to show my bosses kid how to get to the high score in the Shrek game on my phone or having lunch with my friends even though I was only seconds away from bailing on them because of work pressure or that extra 2min I spent talking to a customer about her family or actually going through my music to choose a song I like to start the day with instead of relying on the random button and spending the next 5min skipping a bunch of songs I wasn’t quite feeling…

Music has been an amazing pick me up throughout the years and today I’m just really grateful that I’ve been able to get inspiration when I could have easily convinced myself that today was a day of doom…

Today I had a good day

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Inspirational Song Of The Day

First you hear the melody and your fingers start to tap… Before you know it, your head is nodding in rhythm and you start to smile as the first line of your favorite song is blasting through the speakers!

As you sing along, every word of every line seems to have been written just for you about your life. In that moment you know that you are not alone! Whatever you are going through, someone else has also been there and they survived to sing about it. And so can you…

We had this amazing friend Lacey Crawford who was incredibly talented and loved pouring her heart out in we music and we will always remember her laugh… Sadly she was suffering from depression and her internal loneliness overwhelmed the love surrounding her, which prevented her from seeing her options clearly and in November 2010 she took her own life. We have dedicated the Don’t Lose Your Grip account to reminding everyone (including ourselves) that life is worth living and there is always someone who loves you, you just have to hold on a little longer…

If you ever need to talk, just message us on twitter and will be there in a heartbeat

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To the Woman Behind Me in Line at the Grocery Store

Just a reminder to all that we are on this planet together and there are still people who care walking among us 💞

True Stories of a Midwest Yankee

Dear woman behind me in line at the grocery store,

You don’t know me. You have no clue what my life has been like since October 1, 2013. You have no clue that my family has gone through the wringer. You have no clue that we have faced unbelievable hardship. You have no clue we have been humiliated, humbled, destitute.
You have no clue I have cried more days than not; that I fight against bitterness taking control of my heart. You have no clue that my husband’s pride was shattered. You have no clue my kids have had the worries of an adult on their shoulders. You have no clue their innocence was snatched from them for no good reason. You know none of this.

What you do know is I tried to buy my kids some food and that the EBT machine was down so I couldn’t buy…

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“Found in Translation”

Lovely poetry

Cosmic Heroism

I come from a country

with eleven official languages,

where the first speech

was painted on cave walls

with the red ochre of our soil

and the charcoal of our fires.

A country of the Old People,

of Shaka, Cetswayo and Dingaan,

Smuts, Verwoed, Botha

Rolihlahla, Tambo and Sisulu.

The land of Saartjie Baartman

and spitfire sunsets.

I come from a country where

names were used to divide,

to oppress,

carrying a history of

separate development

that echoes in guttural growls

and clicks no colonial mouth

could ever find its way around.

I know the power of names

because I understand so few

in a country where many take

one name for the modern

One name for the traditional,

far removed from me.

I know the power of names

because I do not know so many,

cut off by barricades placed

in the townships of our past.

But I also…

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I Wondered What Life Was

End Kwote

I was sitting on a curb in an empty parking lot, smoking cigarettes and wondering what life was. I had no idea what else to do. It just seemed right. I felt like I was in a movie, like there should have been melancholy music floating in the background. It’s ironic, though. I felt like I had to suck in dirty, life-threatening smoke to understand life’s meaning. I had to lose a few minutes to make sense of it all.

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The essay my mother wrote

Jeremy Podolski

Five years after her death, a 20-year old letter tells powerful story of a mother’s love

I was rummaging this week in my Windows documents folder – my generation’s version of a cobwebbed attic – looking for something I no longer recall, when I saw a folder simply labeled “Mom.”the essay my mother wrote mother and sonIt’s been more than five years since my mom died of ovarian cancer at much too young an age. Five years: a blink and an eternity all at once. I try desperately to remember the sound and cadence of her voice. I trip over triggered memories of time-bleached events, hoping to add new detail to my imperfect archive of childhood. Occasionally, I pick up the phone to call her, only realizing my folly when I struggle to remember her number.

Unexpectedly finding something that is about her, belonged to her or pictures her is like discovering treasure buried beneath a…

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Revealed: Apple and Google’s wage-fixing cartel involved dozens more companies, over one million employees

5 TV Deaths We’re Still Royally Ticked Off About

Brings back so many childhood memories. Just for laughs….

The Judgery

It’s just TV, it’s just TV, it’s just TV. That’s the mantra we frequently have to repeat when a character on one of our token shows gets the axe (sometimes literally). We’ll be the first to admit it’s silly, almost lunatic, to mourn fictional characters as much as we do ( here’s to you Will Gardner !), but sometimes it’s more than grief—sometimes we get seriously pissed when our on-screen favorites die, especially when they go out in random or extraordinarily dumb ways. Here are five TV deaths that are still grinding our gears. Warning: spoilers abound!

Joyce Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
buffy_Body049
When:
Season 5, episode 15, “I Was Made to Love You”
How:
Brain aneurysm
Why we’re still pissed:
Because for us millennials, it was our first soul-crushing TV death. First, there was the fake-out: after learning of a brain tumor, Joyce Summers (Kristine Sutherland) was…

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