The Bibbulmun: an afterword

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. I wrote this four weeks after I finished.

It feels like something is happening. A really deep, seismic shift. The deep cores of worthlessness, hopelessness, self disgust and despair are being aired, opened, examined. In a new light – the light of feminism (I was conditioned to hate myself by society!).

There’s a part of me unfurling – it feels inevitable and un-doable. And as though it’s going to change a bunch of stuff. There’s a crack, and I can finally let the light in. I don’t need to hide anymore. I can actually be me. Embody myself. All of myself. With love and acceptance. And without blame or judgement. If feels like I might finally be able to love myself. For reals.

I’m kind of shy and excited to meet this fresh new self who’s emerging, like a soft pink new born. Like when you’re a kid and you see your favourite cousin who you haven’t seen for ages, for a few moments you feel shy and don’t make eye contact. Then one of says ‘you want to go play?’ and then you hold hands and go off together, inseparable until your parents force you into two separate cars at the end of the night. It’s like that, meeting this new, soft and shiny self. Only this time we get to hold hands and run off together, and not leave in two cars. This time we stay and play together.

Right now though, I’m still at the shy part. I’m anticipating it’s going to be fun but I’m not yet brave enough to offer my hand. It also feels good not rushing it. I can sense the unfurling, but there’s no shortcut or speeding it up. It’s going to bloom in it’s own time. Somehow I feel certain that it’s happening though. Even though there’s not that much evidence yet, something feels different.

When I finished the Bibb, I was disappointed that with all the time I spent mulling over the problems in my life, I hadn’t solved any of them. I didn’t think I had any answers, no conclusions about whatthefuckdoidowithmylife. And yet, since coming home, everything is shifted and nothing is what it was before.

Each day, each km, each step – they were like gentle waves on a beach, each washing away another fine layer of silt, to eventually reveal what beauty lay beneath the whole time – beauty that was previously concealed. Me.

The Bibbulmun: day fourty one – Frankland River -> Giants

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

Happy birthday Mum! First time in years haven’t organized a present for her. Hopefully enough of a present that she is spending another night and day with me on the track tomorrow night. Today was so easy it felt like a holiday. Slept really well last night, 7-5:15, woke a couple of times but each time straight back to sleep and no getting up to pee! Walked with Helle and March girls (x2) all day, so slower than my usual pace – and only 15km! Reached tree top walk @ 1300, did it ($21, ergh) was pretty boring tbh. Short. No better than the free one at the zipline place in the Otways. Then the giant something walk, which was fine, but we’ve seen enough tingles during the Bib! Anyway, whatev, it passed the time. Terrible $3 push button machine coffee, black. Not as bad as 3(3.50?) instant @ Mumbellup Tav. V hungry again. Interested to know how much weight have lost. Don’t think it can be much, think look v similar in mirror. A rap-looking dude and two chicks just wandered past on a day walk – they asked ‘do you guys know where this track ends?’ and we look at each other…‘Um…Albany’ haha! ‘Shit, we’re turning around now then!’. Funny.

My competitiveness is coming out, as I anticipate seeing Mr Deer soon – can’t see him singling these days! Too easy! If Mum wasn’t meeting me would maybe double tomorrow just from boredom/something to do. In fact almost surely. Obvs regained strength in Walpole. Sigh, again, so frustrating to have someone else dependent and not free to change plans at will! What is the lesson here? Was thinking just today about wanting to practice being less independent. Don’t want to be resenting Mum before she arrives. She asked me more than once if it was still ok that she was planning to come, and I could’ve said I wanted to be alone. Hopefully it is a nice night. What’s one night, anyway. I was all afraid of being alone earlier in the piece, now I’m afraid of not enough alone time. At least not doubling tomoz means stretching it out one more night – now that I’m getting anxious about finishing! Crazy mind. Anxious to start, anxious about not finishing, anxious about finishing. Is it never happy/satisfied?

Light rain on the roof, we’re all sitting here reading/writing. All hoping no one else turns up. Darren last night was a ‘character’ – it felt odd to have someone else in ‘the group’. Spend a few days with the same people and you feel like you’ve always been travelling together. The trees around these parts have a story. Put your hand on them and you can feel it. So horrified by the quote in the Tree Top Walk discovery centre from an early settler saying how great it felt to take a sharp axe to the ancient karris and ‘rob them of their majesty’. What arseholes.

No clearer today about life purpose. Feel may not get clearer by end of trip. Or for long time perhaps. A bit afraid of going back to Melb and just falling into Melb life as per usual and then into pit of despair. What have I learned from being out here, doing this? That I can do hard things. That I am ok by myself. That there is always ebb and flow, change and movement. Nothing stays the same. Just keep moving. One step at a time. That I want to live in nature, and especially the sea. That I don’t want to get caught up in the biz. I don’t want that life. Right now I feel (again) like I want to leave it. Don’t want to strive for riches – see that I don’t need much. When you live in a society that has a lot, you want for a lot. When you live with less, you want less. (Sitting here in my mozzie free cave is so great. I can see them buzzing around and landing on the mesh. Fuck you, mother fuckers! You can’t get me!).

I don’t know. How do I know what I want to do? And I feel ashamed that the prospect of working in the business and eventually getting rich is a lure to me staying in the status quo in Melbourne – even though I just declared that I want to lie with less. Maybe I want to want to, but in reality I want to live in a beautiful house and have nice things and travel etc. Already I’m eyeing off other hikers’ down jackets and wanting to buy another (thicker) one. Even though this one has been perfectly adequate for this trip. Sigh. No answers.

The Bibbulmun: day fourty – Walpole -> Frankland River

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

Big brek this morning before leaving RL, of three eggs, 4 x bacon, field shroom, broccolini, spinach and 4 x toast. With butter. Good. Then bowl banana and strawbs with yoghurt for 2nd breakfast. Called Linton as I was leaving Walpole, had a less than pleasing chat. He hadn’t looked at any of my photos, even though I’d been excited about them and asked him to. So he looked them up while we were on the phone, and said ‘ who’s that random dude on the beach in the last picture? He looks alike a ken doll’. And I was like…It’s me. Then I was really offended and upset and even got a bit teary. (Can I blame it on hormones?). I’m really conflicted by this body image stuff. I understand it’s advertising and conditioning, and society’s fuckedupness, cognitively, but I still yearn to be a ‘pretty girl’ – straight teeth and nice hair and a well proportioned face. The older I get, instead of getting more comfortable with myself it seems like I’m becoming I’m less and less happy with my face shape – I just look jowly to me. Anyway, so I want to not care but I do care. I also want to do my thing without buying into the hype but I find myself conforming anyway. So frustrating.

I also realized that as well as wanting to break up with health, I have also kind of lost my love affair with science. I no longer believe science or its hype, especially related to health. So where does that leave me? When my whole last decade of life has been based on health science? I feel a bit lost and torn and almost like I’m grieving.

I want to be a different person in my relationships – more loving, forgiving, patient… How do you go about changing those parts of yourself, those ways of being? I feel like who I was is slowly draining out of me, all the things I thought I knew about myself are emptying, leaving a big hollow. But what will fill it? Being a creative? Energy healing? (nah just kidding). I want to also drain out those relationship aspects that I want to let go of. How to let them go? It feels uncomfortable, this shedding of a very familiar skin. I’m reluctant. I want things to stay the same. I could have made it in this industry, this niche. And now throw away everything I worked towards for a decade? For what? Something that I don’t even know yet? It’s not like I’m letting go of it to follow some other great passion.

How do I use this time of emptying and space to become the person I want to be? And will that be with or without Linton? What do you do with your life when you don’t want kids OR career?? Beautiful, beautiful walk today through Karri and tingle forrest. Those trees must have some wisdom – 400 years old. A lot of smoke in the air this arvo, hopefully from a prescribed burn. Feel very sore today and walked the 18.5km quite slowly. Started last and arrived last.

The Bibbulmun: day thirty nine – Walpole -> NOWHERE! Rest day :)

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

First rest day in so long. Since Balingup. It seriously feels like a holiday. A lot of that is also because I’m sitting in a cafe writing thoughtful things (long letters to Yael and Linton). Eating cake and drinking iced coffee (with cream AND icecream), there’s bird noise/panpipes playing and a water feature trickling and it’s SUNNY AND WARM! I seriously can’t get over the weather, it’s divine. The only downer is the smell of tar and the roar of trucks as they bitumise the road out front of the café…Other than that I could be in Bali. Had a big (2.5h!) talk with Linton this morning about all sorts, including us and me. And who I am. Became clearer that this idea of health as an overarching value/life direction is no longer the biggest thing for me. But as it has been such a big part of my self identity, now I don’t know who I am without it. I hate the world of health and wellbeing these days. I know there must be ways to do it, live it, that don’t get caught up in the hype and the fakeness, but I don’t see them. I feel disillusioned and want to distance myself from it. It’s become too mainstream? I need to be different? I thought health people were my people, but now they all piss me off so much. So then who am I? Without that? A wandering soul. Linton keeps telling me I seem lost, and I tend to agree.

I do feel like I’ve come to this sense of calm within myself, but it’s a contentedness with myself here, myself at my core outside of society. I don’t think it will last when I’m back in real life. Slash, it won’t be as relevant. Nor do I have any desire to be a wanderer forever. I don’t know why I have this sense that it wouldn’t work to do my own version of ‘health’ that fucks off all the hype….I don’t think I can quite articulate it, but it just doesn’t seem like it would work. It doesn’t appeal to me, anymore. I want to break up with health and wellness. But where does that leave me? Single in the world of life meaning/purpose. And yes, there’s plenty of life meanings to align myself with, but how do I pick one? How do I know which will last the distance? The last one didn’t. Maybe I’m destined to be forever single and purposeless. I’m afraid of commitment now, in case it doesn’t work out again. My secret crush is to be a creative, but honestly I think creativity is too good for me. I’m afraid to even flirt in fear of getting shut down and rejected. I did enjoy this single life, for a while – since I quit my job and just did book keeping, but now I’m getting that twang, the thought that it’d be nice to curl up on the couch with my life purpose and just, you know, hang out. Settle into that comfort of knowing I’ve got a life direction to come home to at night. The adventure stuff gets me a little bit excited, but again, I don’t know about the long term prospects. This short term fling of the Bibbulmun Track has been fun, but there’s a possibility that I wouldn’t have the stamina to keep up with a full time commitment to Adventure. I suppose it will become apparent in due time, the right meaning will fall into my lap and until then I’ll just keep going on dates with whatever comes up – adventure, aikido, wilderness, blogger…writer? Business person? (nah). Photography? Videography? Helping those less fortunate? Traveller? Yogi? Dancer? Movement person? It sounds like I’ve let go of the idea of mind/movement specialist….Interesting. No promises at this point. Grateful for the mental space of this rest day to ponder those things. And the phone call with Linton, challenging as it was, he does help push me to greater parts of myself. Even when I don’t want it.

The weather is tipped to change this weekend which is very sad. This sun and warmth is glorious (although hot to walk in, and snakey). I’m going to move down the street to the next café and have coffee and cake there, to ahem, compare the coffee. Research purposes.

The coffee at the second place wasn’t bad. Pity the server was too over-friendly/slightly offensive. Prefer the place with the unsmiling hostess. What is life? Four walk days then peaceful Bay, three walk days then Denmark, Four walk days then done. Eleven days to go. Of 50. Just crazy. How do you even go about making a judgement of how it is? Although I don’t want to get ahead of myself – I still have nearly two weeks. Feet are still hurting in new places so anything could happen: just look at Sonja! Peter emailed some of the crew this morning, she had a fractured tibia!! I do at least feel somewhat refreshed and rejuvenated by this zero, and feel ready to tackle the next few days. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow after carrying a heavy pack full of food with a broken hip belt. Can’t help myself but take these extra cliff bars of Peter and Sonja’s even though they’re heavy (because, food). Mum is coming to meet me at Conspicuous Beach to spend a night at Rame Head. It’s her birthday. I feel ok about it but also a little protective over my dwindling few days. Already getting anxious about space, even though, as I said, I still have almost two weeks. I’m also thinking I’ll stay at Denmark, which I was originally going to bypass, and not at Mum and Dad’s – would be too much of a sojourn to the other reality. Dad gets it. It seems silly to pay for accomm at Denners but I want to stay in the headspace. Especially if the rellies will be down – don’t want that kind of needing to be clean and polite and, I dunno, ‘normal’, ‘real life-y’. While I was sitting at Top Deck cafe today I did a really loud fart – I just forgot I was in the real world. Luckily no one was sitting near me. How does a person function in real life again??

The Bibbulmun: day twenty seven – Tom Road -> Boarding House

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

Had a reasonably peupty day. Morning was nice, left just after 6:30, and it was really nice walking along river. Then the clouds came over and it drizzled for 1.5 hours and I was just like, fuck this. Realised that I keep doing the same thing with people – putting up the emotional walls, which then makes me shitty at anything they do. The question is, why? And how to stop it? Just writing this I’m like, why do I need to ‘stop it’/fix it – Can I just let myself be??

Got to picnic ground – almost ½ way – by 9:10am. Too early for even 1st lunch. Ate some doritos (left over from ages ago!) while resting with my feet up. Passed the ‘linear’ 1/2 way point but didn’t even see it. Left rest spot, crossed suspension bridge (1 tree bridge) and kept on. Just felt grumpy. Got to where guidebook said ½ way is, had heard there was a marker there but didn’t see anything. Felt pissed/ripped off. Saw a piece of duct tape on ground – handmade ½ way sign. 100m on, real ½ way sign. Took selfie – horrified by selfs face. Sad that still think that about myself. Created witty self-deprecating insta post reminding others that thru hiking is not what you do if you want to take good selfies. Sigh.

Another couple km, passed 2 women who were camping. Sat near river for break. Mr Deer caught up to me, walked last 5.5km together (at quite fast pace, set by him!) it fucking dragged, even with two people. After chapel bridge, track was covered in such deep water that I scrambled up onto top of railway cutting to avoid wet feet. Got to hut around 12:45 – had HOT LUNCH (thanks Mum) and snickers as reward. So tired. Two rangers came and said (as many in book have said) there are 2 x big karri trees down over the track in tomorrow’s section –already meant to be a tough day. Plus forecast is predicting rain, hail, strong winds…Mr Deer and I are going to get up at 4am again to try and get a few hours done before weather really sets in. Bucko (old dude) might just stay in the hut – he was going to turn around at the next hut anyway. Not stoked about the prospect of getting saturated again tomorrow – with two more days still to go before Pemberton. Anyway. Just a grumpy whingey day today. Tried strapping tape plus ½ bandage – worked ok on right foot but on left too much pressure on top of foot/bone and it hurt SO much. CAN’T WIN! Had first moment of actually looking forward to being able to not have to torture my feet every fucking day…like a normal person , just throw on any old pair of shoes and not think about it! Imagine!

 

The Bibbulmun: day seventeen – REST DAY! Collie

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

First rest day!! Got into Collie around 4:30pm yesterday, 36.9km/8 hours walking. Big day. Feet v v sore. Sore by 15km, let alone 37! Phoned Mum and Dad, Linton. Showered. Domino’s GF pizza, garlic bread, choc mousse. Finally not hungry for a little while…Today eating ’til I feel sick. More shower. Picked up food resupply box from hostel. Washed clothes (wandered around the hostel wearing literally only my raincoat while clothes in the wash and the dryer. Felt a little like a flasher. Luckily is a 3/4 length coat). Post Office (sent home some spare stuff, sent some choc and jerky onwards to my self at next town, picked up my heel lift that Dad posted here), podiatrist (got a last minute cancellation appt!) – she was most unimpressed with my shoes and orthotics. ‘Useless, simply useless’. She tried to suppress her anger at how ‘useless’ they were but I could hear her muttering around the corner of the partition in the room. I thought yesterday – although I feel no great passion for my life at home at the moment, nor do I feel great passion/any passion for anything really. Like, there’s no point to doing the Bibb, but also no point in not doing it.

Have been eating ALL the gluten. Farts very bad. Want very much to go back to gluten free. A whole iced apple log thing from bakery, sausage roll, croutons on caesar salad (anchovies! Too much mayo :/ ) chicken noodles in hut the other day, garlic bread…bleh. Mr Deer has hooked me up with a super cheap airmat that is insulated! V happy. $107. Cheaper than I paid for my (not insulated) one. He’s a good boy. Have bought wind screen reflector to go under my current mat to get me though ’til then. V tired. Sugar, food, people – tiring. Plain food, walking, bush – less so. Even though much increased exercise. Have sorted my food for next section. Much more, think I’ll have leftovers. Pack will be heavy though.

 

The Bibbulmun: day eleven – Dwellingup -> Swamp Oak

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

Lovely Lisa drove me to Pinjarra this morning to try get gas (no luck! Only had ginormous size cans which didn’t want on account of weight) and probiotics. Saw Mr Deer (!) randomly, in the supermarket carpark (Pinjarra being a twenty minute drive from Dwell where we both spent the night) and told him of my gas predicament; he got his parents to bring down a spare and is going to drop some around to me at Lisa’s shortly. Saving my bacon that boy. Felt overwhelmed when got to town and café yesterday – noise, people, food? And wanted to be back in bush. Now settled back to reality and hard to leave…

….

5pm: Struggled today. Only 13.3km, and took around 4 hours with several stops. Feet/Achilles hurt, shoulders hurt, just felt TIRED. Also felt emotionally all over the place. Felt sick in gut and sad/frustrated with that. Am only one here so far so likely to be first night alone. Feel a little anxious/nervous! Very still night which makes any noises more obvious. Have told people that my Achilles isn’t getting worse but I think it might be. Very sad and upset – and trying to practice acceptance. Was so very well cared for by Lisa, such a lovely connection. Parrots/cockies nibbling gumnuts and dropping them noisily (especially noisy when fall on the roof of the hut). The birds are my protectors, according to Lisa. Hoping I’m just tired from not sleeping as much. Not sure if I can go back to life as it is/was in Melb. Need the bush. Looked in book for Eddie coming through here last year, found his entry – three days after Julian had been here! So funny. Brain is already telling me many scary scenarios that could happen involving scary men etc. Brain is nervous.

 

My new biggest fear

Oh dudes. Its been a tough week.

Last time I wrote, about declaring my intention to hike the Bib, I listed my biggest fear as starting the journey and then having to cut it short due to repetitive use injury (pretty common on long hikes). Ive now replaced that fear with a greater fear: to not even start due to injury.

Almost every day this past week Ive woken up with some different sort of body pain. Ironically, I wrote a draft blog post about the movement practices Ive been doing of late, and how great it feels that Im moving so much. And then this week, starting the day after I drafted it, Ive been in struggle town with the whole movement thing. Ive had achilles tendon pain (thats been going on for a while actually), back pain (also going on for a while), random sharp pains in my heel and, for the first time in my life, sciatic pain.

Its pretty hard for me to deal with emotionally, for two reasons:

  1. Obviously, Im planning a fuck-off long hike. This is likely to be hampered if Im not in good physical shape.
  2. Movement is my number one ultimate super tool in my box of how I manage my mood. So when my movement routines are hampered, I really notice how it affects me, mood-wise.

Its a really tricky scenario that a lot of people face,

whether they use movement as their mental health management tool or not – how to keep active when your body hurts. Ive had a bunch of hurts in the past – bone bumps shaved off, torn ligaments, surgery on multiple joints, blah blah. However, I still really struggle with the idea of listening to my body. On the one hand, Im afraid that because I know Im a sensitive person, perhaps Im too sensitive to discomfort, and therefore likely to make a big deal out of nothing. The fact that in the past many of my sensations of discomfort have been due to legitimate causes that were improved via medical intervention doesnt seem to give me any more trust in my own body signals. Because on the other hand, I like moving so much, and its such an important part of my life, I dont want to hear when something isnt working. I just want to ignore it and hope it goes away. I tell myself that its probably nothing and Ill be fine. Then I stress about it. Because of the first point I made. And ironically, the worrying about what could be wrong likely makes it worse. A stressful mind and body does not make for a good healing environment.

If I was a client and I was seeing myself, as an exercise physiologist, I would probably make some suggestion like, perhaps consider a different type of movement that doesnt make your back hurt? Try doing some swimming so whatever is going on with your foot gets a break? But my client self says, fuck that, I dont want to try swimming! I want to do what I enjoy doing! And stubbornly keeps doing it. Largely because Im clinging to it as a mental health flotation device at the moment.

Its kind of odd, isnt it

That my whole message is based on minds and bodies and intuitively listening to your own internal environment to figure out whats right for you, and yet I struggle with that myself? (We could also argue that the very fact that I struggle with the same issues gives me greater insight) Its another situation where I dont really have an adequate answer. Rather, Im just exploring my own discomfort with discomfort and offering it to you, the blog-reading public, for no real reason other than the fact that I think its important that we dont create these online identities where we can come across as perfect beings who dont struggle with exactly the same issues that you do. Im also just a person, trying to do the best I can with what Ive got.

 

Let’s get real

I’m tired of reading about people who have beaten their demons.

We get a story written about us in a newspaper or on a website?when the story is along the lines of: “how I beat depression”, followed by a saga of how shitty we used to feel, until we discovered xyz, and now look at us, we’re great! And Happy! And here’s five tips you can take away if you want to be like us.

“I used to be fat and unhappy, until I lost weight and now people want to hear my story because I finally fit the image of what society says I should look like!”

“I used to be sad and cry all the time until I started exercising and now it’s worth talking about me because I’m a well adjusted professional functioning as society says I should!”

“I used to work in a corporate soul sucking job until I started my own business and now it’s worth writing a story about me because I’m really attractive and happy and rich! I’m successful, just how society says I should be!”

The message we get from this? My story is only valid when I’ve dropped my baggage and imperfections, and achieved success.

I want to see more stories about the people in the trenches. The people who are living with being obese, and how that is for them. The people who are living with difficult emotions, and what its like trying to go through life with that. The people who are still stuck in the jobs they don’t really like, and how that affects them in their day to day.

But that wouldn’t be inspiring, would it. That wouldn’t be click bait-y enough to get published – “I used to be overweight and I still am.” “I was depressed, until for a while?I thought I wasn’t, then I realised I still was.” “I was working in a corporate, soul sucking job, until I quit and got a different, soul sucking job.”

But you know what that would be? Real. People are already commenting?on how social media presents an unrealistic image that we all compare ourselves to, by only sharing our happy photos and brag worthy status updates. But it’s not just social media. It’s all media. You are story-worthy once you’ve gotten over your shitty past, achieved something great, and shed your imperfections along the way.

I saw a story recently about a person who used to have depression, until?she ‘beat’ depression, and now she sits on various boards of influence and has started a not-for-profit to help others who are like she used to be. Which is awesome, we need more of that. But when I’m feeling down, it’s also just another way that triggers me to think that I’ve failed. That I wont be good enough until I can fix myself from being the way I am, and become something great; some Louise 2.0, which is all the great, funny, compassionate, likeable parts of me, without the tired, irritable, depressed, achey parts of me. The Louise who starts meaningful businesses with purpose, who makes a difference to peoples’ lives, who tells her story of how I ‘used to be’ and how different that is from how I am now.

But what if it’s not so different? What if I’m still dealing with a bunch of the same stuff??

A person called me the other day, wanting to work with me. She told me she resonated with what I’d written about my story, about using movement as a tool to improve my mood, about the struggle with apathy and hateful self-talk. She told me that I seem “perfect”. That I seem to have figured it out and she wants to be like me. I literally burst into laughter. And I told her that I still deal with those things, I still find myself thinking from time to time, that I’m a piece of shit. She was surprised. I told her, the thing that has changed is that I don’t necessarily believe it straight away now. I question it. (Sometimes – sometimes I fall straight back down the rabbit hole). I’m not saying that this is all there is to hope for, that one day I might be able to get to a point where I don’t ever have the thought that I’m a piece of shit anymore, but for now, I’m still right down in the shit with everyone else.

And I feel sad to think that people might read my story and think that I’ve passed through the storm, that I’ve made it to the tropical island and I live in peace and happiness. Because the reality is that I am still on the boat, and ride out storms with frustrating regularity. I’m tired of reading about other people hanging out on that island, drinking cocktails seemingly without a care in the world, because I can’t relate. I want to read more about the other people who are on a solo mission around the world, weathering storms, icebergs, ripped sails and giant whales. The other people who are feeling?the grit and the rawness of life. Who also, incidentally, get to see some pretty amazing rainbows out there on the ocean.

PS – where did that sailing/ocean metaphor pop up from? I don’t know.

What’s the difference between self-care and self-fixing?

Today I’m feeling hopeful. It’s the first time I’ve felt hopeful in a while, so I’m pretty excited about it. So excited that I rang my boyfriend to tell him – I thought it would be a nice novelty for him to get a happy phone call from me rather than a grumpy or crying one.

 

I’ve been feeling crappy for a pretty long time now. Not 100% constantly crappy, but up and down-y, when I think back over time I mostly see it as grey, forget-about-the-happy-days kind of crappy. And when I saw a long time, I mean months, not days. When I first started feeling consistently down, as opposed to just having a bad day (or a bad week), I had so much happy-and-well-ness built up in my tank, that I was ok about feeling shit. I was almost (not quite) looking forward to the challenge of depression (again) in a sort of yay, now I can try out all of those strategies that I’ve been talking about for so long! Put it to the test! kind of way. When I felt good for a few days in a row, I had this (very, very, tiny) sense of disappointment – oh, it’s over now, I didn’t even get to let myself get to the depths so I could write some really great depressed connecting blog post about depression and it’s shitness. But oh well, to be well is better anyway.

 

But then I wasn’t really well, for a long time. The happy streak didn’t last. Even the mildly cheerful didn’t hang around. The grey kept going (keeps going). And that big tank of happy-wellness that I had carefully cultivated over the previous few years slowly dwindled, as I drew on it again and again without ever really having the opportunity or energy to refill it. And then I found myself empty of it, completely. And shit got cray. And when I saw cray, I mean, bad. Unhappy. Crying-y. Life-has-no-meaning-or-purpose-y, why-do-I-even-bother-being-alive-y. And I dragged myself onwards, in this state, for weeks. I cried every day, often multiple times a day, often triggered by almost nothing. I raged and snapped at the people I love most in the world. I avoided my friends because it was too much effort to pretend to be ok, and if I let slip that I wasn’t ok, I was going to collapse with the outpouring of despair and sadness. And on the good days, I put on my shiny face and I laughed and worked and I did life, like a more or less normal kind of person.

 

And then eventually I took some drugs that a doctor gave me because it was either that or a slow rotten death of my life and my love and my relationship and my job. But unlike in the past, the drugs didn’t help that much. They helped enough that I didn’t cry every.single.day anymore, and I avoided my friends less. But I still had recurring thoughts of what the fuck is the point of my life?

 

Interestingly though, I fell for the story that this life pondering was a meaningful, legitimate question. I thought I was searching for a purpose, like all the good entrepreneurs and life-changers and move-makers. But, all of a sudden, after reading a line in a book a few weeks ago, I realized that all this pondering of purpose and meaning and point to life, while veiled in an illusion of ‘productive action-taking to define your mission and fire up your doing-ness’ was actually a destructive thought pattern that was triggering me over and over into grey-pointless-meaningless land.

So there’s that.

You think you’re being proactive and bettering your own life and then BAM! You realize you’re bringing yourself down.

 

Then, shortly after, I admitted another hard truth to myself. Somewhere along the way in between my tank emptying and now, all the strategies and things I was doing (there were many – like: going to integrative doctors ($$$), taking buttloads of supplements, movement, reading self-help, talking about ‘it’, doing things that made me laugh, etc) somehow ninja-ed without me even noticing into something they didn’t used to be. They started off as beautiful acts of self-love, where I cared so much about my health and my wellbeing that when I saw I was down, I was offering my love to myself through actions, in the hopes that I may accept those actions of love and feel better. Along the way though, unbeknownst to me, they turned into actions of desperation. A desperate, clawing attempt to fix my broken self, to rid myself of this fucking way of being. A product of disgust, despair, and dislike about who I was as a person, and a last-ditch attempt at escaping this horrendous way of life, which as many of you know, can be quite excruciating with its discomfort.

So there was also that.

My acts of self-care and kindness had become acts of self-loathing and fixing myself.

 

Farrrrrrout. Where does one go with these realisations? How to get back to a place where my self-care is about love and kindness and not fixing? How to fill up my tank again? How to accept myself completely as I am, and love myself through that, while simultaneously acknowledging that how I am is pretty fucking uncomfortable right now, a lot of the time? I don’t necessarily have the answers to these questions, but I am letting them marinade while I continue with life.

 

I also want to point out that I haven’t shared a lot about how I’ve been faring for months, as I really resonate with what Brene Brown writes about vulnerability. I’m paraphrasing, but it’s something along the lines of how sharing your vulnerabilities with people when you’re still hurting and healing isn’t being vulnerable, it’s over-sharing. She says, “I don’t tell stories or share vulnerabilities with the public until I’ve worked them through first” and goes on to say that sharing a vulnerable story in an attempt to meet a need for attention or care isn’t a great idea. All this to say that while I’m still going through things, as we all are, I want you to know that this isn’t a desperate cry for help, I’m doing ok. I deliberately haven’t shared it for a while, but now seems like a good time, for whatever reason. So there you go.