On anxiety and engagements – aka things are not always what they seem

Those of you who know me a little bit (or a lot) know that I recently celebrated my 40th birthday and that my lovely man took me away to a very romantic place where he presented me with a gorgeous engagement ring that he designed and had made especially for me. You may also know that I have a job I love and that earlier this year I got to travel around SA for a month as a competition winner, and then got to go to the UK for a family wedding and reunion. To some it might sound like this is *my* year, a year full of wonderful and happy experiences. I have an amazing son, a wonderful family, awesome friends and a man who loves me more each day.

I should be so very happy and content.

But for the past 2 months I’ve been sucked back into a dark place I know only too well. A place filled with fear and nameless anxiety. A place where panic attacks come thick and fast day after day and where I feel like I’m drowning in them. I’ve been here before but it’s been a long, long time since things got this bad. Back in my early 20s in Israel it was this bad and I didn’t leave the apartment for weeks – I became agoraphobic. Since then I’ve had the odd battle, I’ve had a few weeks of bad panic and anxiety and I’ve been to my wonderful counsellor and she’s helped me get my groove back.

But today I sat and cried in her office, telling her that while I am so happy to be engaged to the man I’ve loved for 14 years, I can’t get past this round of panic – that none of the tools that usually work are working. That I feel robbed of the joy and excitement I want to be feeling now because all I can feel is this shadow over me.

G is so very good about it and he is more understanding and patient than I could be in his position but it’s not fair on him or on me or on R.

So finally I agreed that I need to get some medical help this time. It’s something I have fought against since I first started dealing with this curse back in 1989 when my sister died, but I cannot carry on like this. I have a wedding to plan! A life to live! I want to get my joy back and if that means a couple of months of meds then that’s what I have to do.

So I am seeing my GP at 5 today – who said when I called her ‘at last!’ cos she’s been trying to tell me this will help me for a long time. I know what kind of meds I WON’T take and I also know this is just to get me out of the place I’m in and then I’m getting off them and back to coping with natural things that have worked in the past. But for today the fight has gone out of me and I can’t carry on like this.

Why am I blogging this?

Because too many people keep quiet about mental health issues and that’s why so many of us feel alone, and like freaks. Someone else out there might read this and realise that no matter how together and happy another person seems, we all have our battles to fight.

Posted in anxiety, love, Me, myself & I | Tagged | 5 Comments

Yay me :-)

Today I am proud of myself for a number of reasons:

1. I have started yoga again (with G this time) and even though the classes are beginners’ classes, they are pretty hard core and I am pretty VERY unfit! So having managed to keep up with an almost 2 hour class is quite an achievement and I am really enjoying the after burn of our second class.

2. Last night I tried working out on the new climbing wall G built for him and R in the lounge, and not only was it lots of fun and a hard workout, but I did pretty well! I managed to do all the moves G and R did, not as often as them but still I kept going and broke through some moves that initially I couldn’t do and thought I wouldn’t be able to ever do. It’s totally addictive!

3. I have been having quite a number of panic attacks again lately – had a few days of them just before G got back and then the last 2 days they’ve spiked again and I am proud of myself for a) working, battling through them – it’s exhausting, I know the tools I need to use but it’s still very hard work – and b) being brave enough to be honest about them with G – he can’t do anything to help, but knowing he knows does help, and it’s quite a big thing for me to tell him something like this because it’s a part of me I really don’t like.

4. This is the big one: I do try, when I am wrong about something, to admit it and apologise as soon as possible but today I set a new record .
See, I projected some of my friends’ relationship problems on to my own relationship with G and accused him of things he doesn’t do. I did this because I am afraid of ending up in an unhappy relationship myself, but after making the accusations (and being completely hypocritical in the process) I realised that as much as I have a right to speak up when I’m not happy about something, in this case I had no grounds for what I was saying apart from fear. Never a good reason to do or say anything. Unless of course you’re faced with a charging rhino in which case the fear is totally real and useful and you need to climb the nearest tree. Groundless fear I should say is never a good reason to lash out at someone.
So by the time we were on the way to work I saw the error of my ways (I might add without them having to be pointed out to me because if G had tried that I would have stubbornly stood my ground). Instead he was rather bewildered and quiet and to his credit still bought me en route-to-work-coffee while I mulled over the one sided conversation I’d lobbed at him and realised I was not only wrong but was also being totally unfair.
So within less than 30 minutes of having a go at him I turned off the radio and apologised and even went as far as explaining just how wrong I was, and also why I had made the accusations (the whole projection thing) and by the time we arrived at my work peace had been restored.

Hence, I am proud of myself today.

Yay me 🙂

Posted in anxiety, Health, love, Me, myself & I | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

The Great Big High School Debate


UPDATE: Raph was accepted at both schools at which he applied and has chosen to go to Westerford. 🙂

So the time has come. With R turning 13 in less than a week (eee!) the next big decision on our radar is which high school will he go to next year.

This particular topic is number one on the list of all the parents of his class mates, and other moms I know who have Grade 6 and 7 children. And it’s quite interesting how each mom (I would say parent but on the whole it’s moms who talk about this stuff) has a different approach to the Great Big high School Debate:

1. The moms who want their boys at the all-boys schools have had their kids’ names on the short list since they got home from the delivery room 12 years ago. Their boys have been to interviews at every possible school over the past few weeks and there is little doubt that all of the schools will offer them places. These moms love the whole posh school vibe; the uniforms with hats; the extensive lush green sports fields in the shadow of Table Mountain; the possibility of boarding…

My take: I can see the charm, and if your son is sporty then I reckon he will love these schools. However my high school boyfriend came from a school like this and the boys were told from day one they were the great hope of the future of the country; that they are golden demi-gods. Said ex boyfriend is now an ambulance driver in the UK. Also: R is not only not great with ball sports but he actually ducks if a ball comes near him. He would be eaten alive.

2. The moms who want their kids at the local school because it’s a las to drive over the mountain and they’d rather their boy and his mates had their first beer in their garage (this could happen at their son’s 13th birthday next month). It’s not as if their son is ever going to become a doctor anyway.

My take: I definitely see the practical pro’s of having R at the local school and I like the fact that the snob factor is pretty much absent. The fact that the gangster factor is quite prevalent is possible cause for concern…

3. The moms who are taking out second mortgages on their homes to send their child to the arty, free thinking school in Kenilworth – it doesn’t matter if they have to work every weekend to make up the extra needed for the over R50 000 a year school fees, nothing else will do for their arty, free thinking child.

My take: Honestly, I would LOVE to send R to a school like this and am just jealous that we cannot afford it and in fact both G and I think it’s a ridiculous amount to spend on a school, no matter how good it is.

So where does this leave us? R has been to just 2 interviews and next week we hear if he’s been offered a place at either or both. If both, we have a big decision to make. It comes down to the local school (where G went, and as he says, he’s fine. Then again he’s a very different person to R…and who wants their kid to be just ‘fine’?) or Westerford, which is where I would love him to go BUT the distance, the travel and the sport are all factors that need to be considered.

In the end I know this much is true: The best and worst schools have drugs, bullies and bad teachers. The drugs may be different but they will be there. The bullies may operate differently but they will be there. Every school has its amazing dedicated teachers and its bored, or boring, or sadistic teachers in among the mix. What will count more than where R ends up is how good we as his parents have been in preparing him for this next phase of his life.

Still bloody scary tho. But also quite exciting!

Posted in Family, Motherhood | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Fathers’ Day

This weekend is Fathers’ Day. My dad is currently in the UK but usually he lives right next door, with my mom. He won’t be here this Fathers’ Day and I don’t know if he’ll be around for next year’s either. But I do know he doesn’t remember last year’s Fathers’ Day and chances are he won’t recall this one for more than a few days either, whatever he does.

My dad has always been an absent father, yet he is probably the most stable person in my life. He’s always been there, but never really been here.

It is my own belief that dad has Asperger’s Syndrome. He ticks all the boxes in all the symptoms lists I’ve ever read and I’ve read a lot. This would explain so many things about his way of being. On top of this he is afraid and worried all the time, about everything. He has never been emotionally present in my life, but he has always been there. ‘There’ could be at work; he is a doctor – was a doctor – worked long hours at government hospitals and was loved by most of his patients, many of whom ask after him at the supermarket checkout or at the petrol stations or behind the counter at locals stores. ‘There’ could also be asleep on the couch, nodding over an empty lap. That’s where you can usually find him now, too.

My dad also has Parkinson’s. This brings with it a spate of challenges including incontinence, shaking, a stooped shuffle, the inability to move freely, and forgetfulness. Not the kind where he can’t find the keys (oddly he ALWAYS knows where they are!) but the kind which means he now gets lost in his own home. He could no longer find his way to the nearby mall if he were still driving, which he mercifully isn’t. And he is slowly forgetting the names of members of his family (to be fair with 7 kids, 23 grand children and a 4th great grand child on the way this is perhaps not too surprising).

The point is, I know the day is coming when he will no longer remember my name. And that day is coming soon. I don’t know if it will already have come when he gets off the plane with Mom in August. I’ll be there to collect them and he will be wheeled out in the airport’s wheelchair they will have arranged for him – and I don’t know if he will recognise me, or my son.

There is so much about my Dad I will never know. I suspect a lot has happened to him that no one knows, perhaps he himself no longer remembers.

But for all that I never had a ‘normal’ relationship with him, for all that he has always struggled to express his emotions appropriately – laughing at sad places in movies; weeping in the middle of a dinner – i have never doubted for a second that he loved me. And even when he no longer recognises my face, I will be sure of that. And I will love him.

Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad xxx

Posted in Family, loss | Tagged | 6 Comments

Working from Home Day 1 – Lessons Learned…

Once not that many moons ago I was a freelance copywriter and as such worked from home for a year. I found it stressful and unproductive for a number of reasons, mostly related to working from my own place which is a tiny, rather dark converted garage, and also to the fact that freelancers can’t always be choosers so a lot of what I had to write was boring. I spent much time arbing around, doing laundry, playing with the cats and surfing the Net, then having to work late at night. I was uninspired and not really happy.

From today I started working from home for my current employers 3 days a week – so I still go in to the office on the other two days. Despite my last working from home experience, I think I am going to love this new set up.

Here’s why. Firstly I’m working from G’s home not my own place. Yeah I miss the kitties but everything else here is better. It’s light filled and spacious with a view of Chapman’s Peak and Noordhoek Beach in the distance. Even though it’s grey and rainy today this place is always warm so I have the sliding doors open. There’s a pool for sunnieer days. He’s away at the moment (and every second month) so it’s quiet and peaceful.

In addition to this being an ideal work from home location, here are some things about my first day working from home that I love:

  1. After dropping R at school I have 45 minutes to head for the beach, take a walk and grab a cup of coffee – much better than sitting in traffic on Wynberg hill!
  2. No telephones ringing
  3. Working in old tracksuit pants and uggs is acceptable
  4. I can hit the yoga mat and do stretches and my 5 min ab workout phone app thingy between writing
  5. Real coffee, any time I want, plus G has a milk frother thingy; I love frothy coffee J
  6. I can enjoy the silence or work to any music I like at any volume I like and sing along loudly while working
  7. Major bonus: I get to collect R from school and spend my lunch hour with him before he goes to my mom to do homework / guitar / computer etc while I work the afternoons. I really miss being there at home time to pick him up, and he is unbelievably happy that I will be able to do this 3x a week from now on. Glad I get to do that while it’s still something he wants.
  8. No need to use a public toilet! And if I wanna read in there for 10 minutes it’s my own business 😉
  9. I can bake cookies in my lunchbreak if I choose, creating a delicious aroma in the working environment, plus snacks for the afternoon shift!
  10. One #lunchbeer is a good thing, and costs less at home

I was a bit concerned that my concentration would be affected and I’d be less productive but because this isn’t my own place I am not tempted to do housework or to pop next door and chat to my mom, and the peace and quiet mean I am really far more focussed than I am at work.

I do enjoy the office, and the colleagues I work with are fun, so I am glad I’ll still be heading in two days a week to feel a part of the company and enjoy the change.

Yay for a change, you know it’s almost as good as a hol… ok it’s nothing LIKE a holiday but it’s still all good 🙂

Posted in Work | 3 Comments