Sunday, 7 June 2015


I love music - music in all shapes and sizes.
But who doesn't?
It surprises me there are some that don't- I wonder why they don't.
I've heard them say it just sounds like a lot of noise.
Yes, but heavenly noise arranged to make magic.
Here's a favourite at the moment.
And favourite bit at 2.06min
"and why did you kiss me,
to make my heart beat out my chest?"

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Hibiscus Flowers and Good Health Practices 1

Hibiscus seem to be synonymous with the hot weather of Summer but really they are an Autumn flower.
They just quietly go about their business flowering in the most neglected gardens - we seem to take them for granted in this part of the world.
Are they not magnificent?!!

BTW the photos have nothing to do with the following words.

So....for a long time now I have neglected my health and well-being.
Obviously there was the depression and anxiety thing and that brings a whole new set of physical health challenges.
That, on top of an already neglected body is very, very bad.
But here's the good news - CHANGE is a choice!
So while I have been beavering away working on good mental health, I've also been slowly but surely rebuilding good physical health.
I thought I'd share some things that are helping me to feel better - maybe someone out there might find the information beneficial.

Last year when I first went to see my Psychiatrist he changed my anti-depressants.
He prescribed Mirtazapine - apparently it is notorious for making users ravenous and extremely sleepy.
And boy oh boy did they make me ravenous - I would have gnawed my right arm off if I hadn't had food in the cupboard.
In a very short period I put on 15 kg - that's a lot when you are 5'1' (155cm).
But I was in such a bad way I couldn't have cared less about being a fattie - I just wanted to feel better.
And sleep ..... I couldn't wake up before 10am and when I did I felt so terribly ill - like morning sickness, dry-retching, the whole thing.
Then I would drag my sorry behind through the day - I was weary to my core - it was like walking through cement.
And my joints were so stiff - I was walking like my old arthritic Grandma used to - I was all twisted and bent over.
I put my symptoms down to the effects of depression/anxiety and the effects of the anti-depressants and weight gain.
Or....because my sister had recently had weird hormone stuff going on, I thought it could be peri-menopause.
There was no way I would have entertained the fact it could be something else.

Anyhoo - my GP asked me if I snored.
Now, snoring is something most lay-dees don't like to admit to - actually I find most are horrified to find think that they might snore.
I guess coz it's not lady-like.
But you know what? There are worse things than not being lady-like.
So yeah - My name is Letitia and I am a snorer.
I have for a long time.
I'm a real mouth breather.
And the weight gain and the somnolent effect of my drugs weren't helping.
My GP suggested I have a sleep study done.
Man oh man I wasn't happy about that - sleep apnoea was something fat old men had.
But sleep apnoea can be a pretty serious thing - over time it can lead to serious health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and weight gain.

If you are thinking of having a sleep study - Medicare covers it - I didn't pay a cent.
And these days you don't have to go to a clinic to sleep for the night.
You can do it at home in the comfort of your own bed.
You wire yourself up with all kinds of monitors with tubes going every which way and then try to sleep.
A little SD card records all the important information.
My SD card came back with the results of mild to moderate sleep apnoea caused by partial obstruction.
So now I have an anti-snoring machine!
Within a week I felt better.
Not so bone-achingly weary.

I've been using my anti-snore machine now for about 3 months and my health has gone ahead in leaps and bounds.
It's not all attributable to the CPAP machine - lots of other things have been going on.
They're not cheap to buy - about $1600 but the CPAP really worked for me and was well worth the money.
I hired a couple of different kinds of CPAPs initially to see which suited me best.
So if you are feeling bleh - ask your doctor to send you for a sleep study - you might just get a new lease on life!

Photos - MotoG2 phone
Toowoomba, QLD, Aust. - Autumn 2015

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Autumn Leaves and Self-Congratulations

Excuse me while I indulge in a little bit of self-congratulation.
Well, I've bloody done it!
It took me 12 long hard months - TWELVE MONTHS!!
It started in April last year and was a quick downward spiral to October
and November when I was bereft, lower than low.
I was very mentally unwell and I felt I was hanging on by my fingertips.
But I persevered and kept searching and trying to find my way back to good health
when most of the time I just wished I didn't exist.
Then a tiny turn upward in December, and another in February, then in March that tiny little flicker of confidence
I had left grew just a little but enough to take hold.
Then waddya know those ghastly looming spectres of depression and anxiety have seemingly been exorcised.
Well....I say exorcised, that isn't really correct.
They existed as lives unto themselves - they consumed my being and I don't think
an exorcism can ever be a reality.
But they are placated, understood, accommodated, assimilated, quietened.

What an unusual, illuminating, humbling, life-affirming journey this has been.
I have worked extremely hard and drawn from many resources (here and here)
in what must be one of the most intense years of my life.
Most of those months I didn't want to be alive - that sounds dramatic - but it is what it is.
Each day was something I suffered through until I could drop into bed and dream my life away.
I was tormented by a dark emptiness - I knew joy existed out there somewhere but it all seemed so abstract, so oblique.

That is until it starts flooding back in and I could just weep with the beauty of it all.

Life has certainly provided me with a roller-coaster of a ride over the last few years.
I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
I guess it depends on which way you look at it; certainly whilst in the depths of despair,
I could tell life to quite frankly stick its ride in its ear!
But without those monstrous times perhaps the sweet is not so gloriously sweet.
I wrote back in November '14 in my About Me page of this bout of depression:
"....But I am nothing if not determined, and once again I am fighting my way out of the abyss.
I'm not quite dancing in the sunshine yet but I'm certainly making my way to the surface - kicking my legs with my lungs about to burst til I break through and gulp in the sweet fresh air of light and well-being"

Well.... halle-bloody-lejuh...I've made it to the top and I couldn't be prouder of myself.
I bloody well did it!
Yay me!

Photos: MotorG2 phone.
May 2015 - Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

Friday, 20 February 2015

Scenes from the Garden on a Rainy Day and Brain-Talking

Scenes from the Garden on a Rainy Day and Brain-Talking - they have nothing to do with each other,
but I just can't write a post without photos.

So here I am in month 11 of my journey from depression and anxiety to wellness and things are really starting to pick up speed.
Back in the beginning of December my depression started to lift but anxiety was still kicking my butt badly.
In yet another desperate search online for ANYTHING that might help, I came across this book:-
Panic Attacks - Why They Were Worth Experiencing by Paul Ianni.
I don't know why I thought this book might be any more helpful than any other of the seemingly hundreds I've read but a desperate desire to find my way out of this black hole kept me clutching at any straw I thought may help.

I found immediate relief.
Paul expounds many techniques, each of which is helping me enormously in finding good mental health.
I'd like to share some things I have learnt from Paul's books.
Maybe it will be helpful to someone reading this who is suffering with depression/anxiety.
Obviously, I'll only be touching on Paul's ideas - the book of course, explains these things in detail.

And.....I should firstly qualify this by saying - I was already several months into recovery when this book came into my life.
When I was in the grips of the anxiety maelstrom there is no way my mind could grasp, let alone practise any healing techniques - the fear was absolutely all consuming and overwhelming.
But as I've mentioned before, I was at the extreme end of the depression/anxiety scale.
I go back to my post 'You Can't Do It Alone' to demonstrate the months of support and help I required to get me to the point where I was well enough for Paul's book to be of use to me.
But most anxiety sufferers should be able to dive into Paul's book straight away.

There's too much to share all in one post so I'll start with
the first technique I used - talking to my brain.
Paul puts forward his belief that there are 3 people living in your head.
Firstly there's you (this is called lots of things in psychology but all that stuff just confuses me,
so I'm just keeping it simple and calling it 'me').
Then there is what I call my big brain - the one that you use all the time.
Then what I call my little brain - the subconscious where all your memories and fears live.
(Paul calls them, his in the now brain and his little mate).
Again I have seen these called other things but these descriptions rang most true for me.
"You" are in the driver's seat and you are the leader.
"You" can tell your brains what you want.
Imagine that!
Genius, right?

The other thing to remember, Paul contends, is that our big brain just wants to please us.
That was really revelatory to me!
The idea had just never occurred to me.
How wonderful - I have an ally in my own head and I didn't ever know it.
All we have to do is ask and it will deliver.
Also we must treat it with respect.
After all, consider the millions of things it does for us so brilliantly and still we will treat our brain terribly by constantly berating it (that was me, I did that).
The little brain is where your emotions live - that's how it operates.
Reason is not its first port of call.

So when anxiety rears its ugly head it's my little brain experiencing fear.
A sub-conscious trigger has gone off.
I can then ask my big brain to help me calm my little brain.
So 'me' and my big brain talk to my little brain.
We help it to reason and reassure it.
I ask my little brain what the problem is.
And it talks to me and lets me know what's going on, what it's feeling.

I'm not 100% sure why this works.
I suspect it comes from recognizing the fear, naming it and acknowledging it, then addressing it.
Seems so simple, right?
As I said - I found immediate relief.
And how sweet that relief was after months and months of anguish.

This is just one of the techniques from Paul's book - and I'm just giving you the bare bones.
The way he expands on it in his book is really accessible - no high-falutin' stuff.

So....if you too are struggling with anxiety, can I recommend this book to you - you just never know what you might get out of it!

Photos - phone, Feb 2015

Paul Ianni on Pinterest

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Meringandan West Cemetery

I like visiting country cemeteries
(my sister does too - that's her in the photos.
So does my Mum, and my Dad - we are a family of taphophiles).

Not city cemeteries.
City ones are too crowded and orderly.
Country ones have graves strewn all over the joint.
Seemingly without rhyme or reason.
I think they start off with a plan when the community is young and flourishing but as the people
move away from the area, the plan is lost.
Although.... Meringandan West is experiencing a resurgence as a satellite suburb - I wonder if that will give the cemetery a new lease of life (is that phrase oxymoronic? - not quite).

I've posted about country cemeteries in the past.
You would think 'seen one country cemetery, seen 'em all";
but each is unique in it's own way.
This one in Port MacDonnell, South Australia swallowed by sand dunes.
This one in the middle of sheep paddocks in Concongella, Victoria had wooden head 'stones'.
And this one - in the middle of old gold diggings but crowned with Lilacs and Roses and Irises - Spring Lead, Victoria.

I'll remember Meringandan West Cemetery for its skewiff headstones and graves and the hot and steamy day we visited.
The grass was fairly jumping out of the ground, sticky grass seeds sticking to our legs and little insects pinging everywhere.
Black soil is the culprit for the skewiffness.
That black soil is notorious for 'droppage' - I'm sure there is a proper term for that - I just don't know it.
Especially after all the rain the area has received in the last couple of years preceded by the decade of drought.
There was a definite lack of tender ministrations for this little old cemetery but it had a lovely feel to it.
The skewiff graves gave it a friendliness - a lack of pretention.
It's a little pocket of remembrance of 'once was' amongst an area that will soon be swallowed up by urban sprawl.

Photos: phone - Jan 2015