How to help your Mentally Ill Friends

First of all I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported my Liptember campaign so far. My goal was to raise $1000, double what I raised last year. Before Liptember even started I had reached that goal and I have since changed my goal to $1500 with $1131 raised so far (if someone would be so kind as to donate $9 so my OCD brain doesn’t implode that would be awesome).

DONATE HERE – http://www.liptember.com.au/miss-fairchild

Again other ways you can help are:

  1. Join up for Liptember and raise money yourself. It’s not too late.
  2. Buy aLiptember lipstick from Chemist Warehouse (or buy them all!)
  3. Buy a special Liptember Candle from TANDA modern (all profits go to liptember) http://www.tandamodern.com/product/liptember-limited-edition-candle
  4. You can also buy anything in https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/Nessbowify shop with 10% of all sales going to liptember
  5. Talk about Liptember. Talk about Mental health. Organise a day at work to talk about the ways mental illness can affect a persons ability to work. Talk about how you can set up support systems. Talk to your nana who thinks it’s all just an excuse to be lazy. Talk to your neighbours. Talk to your friends. Check they are ok. Read. Read a lot. Read blogs by mentally ill people (and you will see we all come from different walks of life as mental illness doesn’t care if your rich or poor or black or white. Read medical journals. Read weird statistics on mental health. If you are in Melbourne visit the Melbourne Museums permanent exhibit on the mind and body (where you can learn about the history of Mental health – like did you know Lithium was first discovered as a treatment for mania by an Australian psychiatrist John Cade in 1949 and is still used today). Or visit the DAX centre http://www.daxcentre.org/ which is an art gallery filled with art made by people with mental illness. Read up on how to see the signs in friends and families. “RUOK” day is great and all but we will often say we are fine. If you know the signs you can sit them down and really ask the question. Not only are they ok – but what do they need? Can you take them to the dr? Drive them to their psych appointments? Bring frozen single meals they can reheat (brushing my teeth becomes impossible when I am truly unwell…if I didn’t have a full time carer/husband I might never eat). When they withdraw it’s often when they need you the most. Ask to see them. Tell them you don’t care if they are in their pj’s. Offer to take them somewhere they love. I personally love going for long drives – but I don’t drive and neither does my husband. Volunteer or donate tp organisations like MIND (who provided us with $500 a few years ago to go toward a family holiday) who offer days out to people with a mental illness – op shopping, picnics, bush walks ect. http://www.mindaustralia.org.au/ or Outdoors Inc. http://outdoorsinc.org.au/ who provide outdoor activities, team building exercises and camps that build our confidence and give our carers a break. If you know a carer remember they deal with the worst of it and it is often their most beloved person (a mother, a sister, a child) and make sure they are ok. Could you do grocery shopping for them or hang out with their loved one so they can see a movie or just get out of the house.

As you can see by that last one there are a million ways you can make a difference and the more you read and learn and  experience the more you will understand. Simply asking “are you ok” or “what can I do to help” is not going to get you anywhere in my case as while I can unload on twitter I can’t talk in person at all when I am depressed. I am not ok but I may say I am. I also have no idea what I need at the time except love and support and even then I will think I am so undeserving of it that I will push you away. I will cancel our fun days out because I can’t leave the house even though those days could help break the cycle.

The hardest part about being friend or family with someone with a mental illness is being pushed away, getting frustrated when you want to help but we don’t let you. We need patience and understanding. Unfortunately at the end of each major depressive episode I have had, I have come out with less friends. Friends who got fed up with waiting to see me. Friends that got sick of me cancelling for the 6th time. Friends tat just couldn’t deal with mental illness. Friends left heartbroken by suicide attempts that decided for their own mental health they couldn’t be around me anymore. Please don’t leave us. We need you more than ever. We sometimes need forced hugs when we are backing away or thrashing – hold us tighter. Tell us you love us. Tell us all the things you love about us. Because our brains are telling us the most vile hate filled things about us. Don’t let us go. Send us care baskets filled with things you know we love. Or something from an in joke (hubby bought me the book of “P.S. I love you” and I laughed so much – at a time I had done nothing but cry). Write us letters and cards. Give us something we can look at and hold and read again and again to show the brain someone loved us enough to write the words and put them on paper just for us. Come and sit in bed with me and watch Jurassic park over and over. Hold me hand. Stroke my hair. Remind me that I am not a totally useless person. Love us fiercely as we can’t even like ourselves. Be prepared to do it all again in a month when we fall down that black hole again. Please don’t let us go.

Blanket Nest Depression & anxiety

 

Thank you to everyone who held onto me and didn’t let me go. Thank you to my husband who held me so tight until I could rest when I was yelling and screaming and crying and trying to pull away. Thank you to my baby girls who leave notes of love on my pillows. Who make me brooches and origami flowers. Thank you to Elise who comes and hangs out in my bed and who let me lay in her lap while she played with my hair. Thank you to Sian and Michael who always had a tweet to share and who never stopped offering visits…you didn’t give up on me even though I was just a stranger on the internet. Thank you to Vanessa who let me come and hide in her flat when I couldn’t handle anymore noise or conflict and expected nothing from me. Thank you to everyone who told me I was a good person and deserved good things. Thank you to everyone who donated to liptember because they knew it meant so much to me. Thank you to those who joined to support me. Thank you to the wonderful friends (I didn’t think I had) for coming to my tafe parade & exhibition and surrounding me all night with a shield of love.

You saved my life.

Miss Fairchild xoxo

It’s Liptember Time Again

Miss Fairchild - Liptember

That’s right folks…it’s almost Liptember time again. This will be my 4th year participating in Liptember and I am hoping to raise at least double last years goal of $500. As I write this, even though Liptember hasn’t officially started, I have already raised $800 which I can safely say is thanks to an anonymous donor who donated $500 straight off the bat.

As you may have read in my previous post – this year has been a horrendous struggle with my mental health. It also included my 5th suicide attempt.

I stopped after that sentence and sat for awhile. What does one say after that. The fallout was horrible. It was heartbreaking. I still feel like the worst part of it was waking up and realising I survived. The look on my husbands face, my brother yelling at me, my children so scared. I already felt like a failure, and now I was even a 5th time failure at suicide. It seems the universe wants me to stay put, despite what I feel, the pain I am always in and the words that could almost be “voices in my head” except they are just echos of the past. Of words spoken to me by people who were suppose to love me. While I am not currently suicidal, that part of me will likely always be there. You can’t ever cure depression. You are like an alcoholic – just in remission. Except they don’t give out little medals for surviving a week, a month, a year.

I am the 4th generation “mentally ill” that I know of. My mother is….crazy. I prefer to only use that word for myself…but she is proper batshit crazy. Bipolar who self medicates with drugs and alcohol. My grandmother also had bipolar and her mother was in an insitution. And unfortunately more and more research is showing that mental illness is hereditary.

The fifth generation, my daughters, are now here. My twins, who also have the added benefit of being on the autism spectrum and who are just 10 years old were both diagnosed with clinical depression. They are in their remission now. A good therapist, early intervention and finally a house where they could fall apart and be built back up again has helped heal them. My eldest has generalised anxiety disorder. She can be so fragile at times. I see so many similarities between us I wonder if there will ever come a day where I get the news she has self harmed.  Oh god. Please universe give my daughters the breaks that I didn’t have. Please let me being open and talking to them help. Please let my love for them be enough. Please let the research continue, better drugs be developed, mental health be talked about, drs better educated, hospitals better staffed. Please let my daughters never have to go to the hospital and say “I have a plan to kill myself” and be turned away because there wasn’t any beds like I was….please let them not fight every day to stay alive and give up 4 weeks later after no support.

We need to know more. We especially need research into women specific mental health. Why?

  • Most mental health research is performed on white males aged 30-50
  • Did you know there are no pregnancy safe drugs for bipolar? Or that bipolar generally doesn’t present until early 20’s – before most women have started having children. Or that your two choices are to take the drugs while pregnant that can cause severe birth defects OR no meds and not only are you at general risk of going back to your untreated state…but once you give birth you have a 50% chance of having postnantal psychosis.
  • And you know how we have all these extra and different hormones floating around? Well those need to be taken into account as welll
  • Oh and what about the fact that many antipsychotics interact with birth control methods (such as implanon) and make them less effective?
  • Or the fact that post natal depression can be a killer – of both mother and baby?
  • Or that women are suppose to be “everything” these days. They are suppose to be supportive mothers who are there for every sports game and PTA meeting, but they are also expected to work hard and have a career. To be wives that are taking care of their husbands after they get home tired from their job. To clean up at the end of the day and then turn into a Victoria Secret model at the end of the day lest their husband strays because they aren’t “keeping themselves together”
  • What about the pressure on women from society that gives them a million advertisements a year that tell them they aren’t good enough.
  • What about the possibility of mental illness being hereditary – does that mean we shouldn’t have kids?
  • What about the threat of loosing your children when you are mentally ill, instead of receiving support?

We need more research. We need to know more. We need to be able to talk more.

When Robin Williams killed himself I was sitting in the waiting room of the women’s for my pre surgical appointment and some lame morning show was on. This person rambled on about how he had nothing to be depressed about as apparently he had “everything” and then she went on to say that at least mental illness has no stigma attached to it. I wanted to laugh and punch her in the face at the same time. No stigma my asshole.

5 Years ago I had a nervous breakdown and to this day I have yet to hear from any, bar one, of the “friends” I had before. People said they would visit me once I got home as psych wards “freaked them out”. If I mention that I am mentally ill people don’t know what to say. Does that mean I am violent (nope – never have been)? Does it mean I will call them at 3am rambling? (nope – I have phone anxiety I am not going to call you ever)

Ok this has been a big long ramble but here is some things about me. I am a mother. A sister. A wife. A daughter. II am 32 years old and after being homeless for 8 months I live in a shithole that might as well be a palace. I only eat sweets when I am stressed…I much prefer eating an entire wheel of cheese. I wear vintage because it makes me feel good. I’m a hardcore feminist. I am sad at the way my country is becoming. I love tea and drink it a lot….always leaf tea. Which may explain the ever growing collection of tea pots. I love red lipstick. My mum or dad did my hair until I left home as I couldn’t even manage a pony tail – now people gush over how I style my hair and I am not sure where I managed to find the skills (that being said youtube wasn’t around when I was little). I am the eldest child with 3 younger brothers – one is just 9 months older than my eldest daughter). I homeschool my girls. My favourite book is “Persuasion”. My favourite show is “Parks and Recreations”. I love so many movies but when I am stressed I watch the three jurassic park movies in a continuous loop. I can knit. I try hard to say the right things at the right times, but I usually end up with my foot in my mouth. Twitter is my favourite form of communication. A week ago at my class parade was the first time I have ever felt not completely alone. I only wear flats. I decided to stop hating my fat, stretchmarked and scarred body a year ago – and it is amazing. I taught my girls to yell “FUCK OFF” from the time they were little so they could get some practice in before they would need it. Despite my addiction to vintage etiquette, deportment and charm books – I have a terrible posture, swear like a sailor and use the word Vagina way more than is actually necessary.

Oh yeah…and I have a mental illness.

So I am once again asking you to dig into your pockets to help me raise more money for this cause that means so much. All funds raised by Liptember are split between Lifeline (funds last year allowed lfeline to double their hours) and The Centre for Women’s mental Health which undertake research into mental health. There area  few ways you can help….

A) Donate to my Liptember page and help me reach my fundraising goal GO HERE TO DONATE

B) Go to Chemist Warehouse and buy an official Liptember Lipstick

C) Donate directly to The Centre for Women’s Mental health by GOING HERE and selecting “general donations”  and then “support mental health research”

liptember-red-poster

This year I am lucky enough to be supported by a number of friends who are joining in and hoping to match my $1ooo so even if you don’t like me you could still dontate to people like the lovely Elise http://www.liptember.com.au/elise-kumar . Not only have joined in to participate in Liptember but a very lovely friend who is CEO of TANDA MODERN who make the most beautiful (seriously – between than glasshouse) candles will be launching a limited edition scent during September with all profits going to Liptember

liptember-tanda-label

So please, please consider supporting Liptember – donate,  join and fundraise yourself, buy a lipstick or buy a divine candle. Let’s make this the best Liptember EVER!!!!

Miss Fairchild xoxo

The End of the Worst 8 Months EVER

I’m BACK!

The past 8 months have been the hardest I have had to endure. What’s worst – I wasn’t alone in my suffering.

10 days before Christmas we were evicted from our home. Our options were the street (well we had all our Christmas money so we would have been fine for quite awhile) or the floor of my brothers loungeroom. Then we were told we would only have one 3hr block to pack up and move our entire house when we hadn’t packed a single thing. Thankfully twitter came to the rescue and people I have never met showed up with hands and cars and vans and the whole house was packed and most of the boxes moved to my brothers garage. Thankfully Consumer Affairs informed us they had to give us “reasonable” time to pack and move so we were “generously” (snarl) given another 3 hours where movers came and did all the furniture. And a few days before Christmas we were officially living on my brothers floor. Seeing as how we had money that would go toward rent and all our Christmas money and a chunk of centrelink backpay we decided if everything else was fucked we would give the kids one hell of a Christmas.

My brother is an angry guy. He is incredibly loyal but he had the same violent abusive childhood I had. The very first night we were there he came home drunk and started picking at me telling me I am a terrible parent and how could I let my kids down like this and I am so irresponsible (note: we were not behind on our rent or bad tenants….) and I lost my shit. 20 years of anger at me giving up my own childhood to raise him and protect him from said violent childhood. I packed my shit and was ready to leave before he came and appologised.

Then my mother came to visit. My mum (I literally started shaking the second I wrote that) causes me so much anxiety I give her anything just to avoid the violent outburts that come at the most unexpected times. Of course she was going to stay with my brother too. The day before she arrived I was such a mess hubby packed me up and shipped me to Benalla to stay with the gorgeous Vanessa. Who kept me from melting down completely. A day later hubby and the kids came down too (we WON’T expose our kids to my toxic mother for more than a few hours) and we spent New Years with her. We pretended we were on holidays as the estate agents were all closed and we literally could not do anything about anything until then.

We thought we would be at my brothers for 6 weeks max. But after hundreds of applications we still didn’t have a house until 4 weeks ago.

Things just kept getting worse. Miss A (one of our 10yo twins) had been diagnosed with depression before we moved. She was withdrawn and angry. My younger three are introverts and all are on the autism spectrum. Then her twin started to show the same symptoms. Before we knew it they were both full on screaming for hours every night. My brother would yell. His girlfriend would yell. I would cry.

My depression which had been really well controlled started to spiral. My kids were hurting. My husband was overwhelmed now looking after all of our emotional well being while looking at houses on foot (we don’t drive). Calling people constantly.

The kids were in therapy – but my therapist was on maternity leave. I was fighting with my brother a lot. Every night I went to sleep to the sounds of him and his 2 room mates yelling obscenties into the gaming headsets.

Then came the plan. I was ready to kill myself so I asked for help. I got none. Not long after my post about me doing better I attempted suicide. I took entire packets of sleepers, valium, antidepressants, antipsycotics and pain killers. It all started with me being just so overwhelmed I open up the medicine box to take some valium and a sleeper so I could have a nap as the house with 10 people was empty and I could have a proper rest and cry. But I just didn’t stop taking pills. I kept going until I was so sleepy I couldn’t swallow anymore and lay down and went to sleep. Next thing I remember is yelling, crying and paramedics. I spent the night in hospital and they discharged me. No psych eval, no support plan – nothing except being told I would be visited by a social worker.

I was struggling at TAFE, I was struggling at “home”, hubby was furious with me, the kids had to see me taken away by ambulance in an already horrible situation, they were in therapy and now the threat of the social worker I knew they were sending her in to evaluate whether or not we got to keep our babies.

Oh and did I mention throughout all of this I was bleeding heavily from February- July? I had Ultrasounds telling me that there were still bits left inside me from previous miscarriages. Appointments at doctors, ultrasounds, blood tests (which showed my blood count and iron levels were low so I had no energy or immune system so I kept getting sick), gynecologists ect. which eventually led to me being put on the waiting list at the womens hospital for surgery.

That’s when Daisy entered our life, My big snuggable Maori social worker showed up on our door. The kids were playing outside and I was in a dirty torn old shirt barely holding it together. She asked to meet the kids and they came running in introduced themselves then politely asked to go play back outside. She took out her clipboard and said “well that covers that” and stuck out “contact DHS”. She could see despite everything our children were still being looked after. They were clean, fed, happy for the most part and loved. She then focused on us. She drove hubby to open houses. Followed up with real estate agents and the housing support group we were using got quite frequent calls from her yelling at them to do something. Then in June she turned up and said a friend of hers was renting a property – it was only 3 bedrooms but it could get us out. We got it and moved in at the end of July.

BUT there was still one horrible stressful thing left to go. My end of year “soiree” at TAFE. The second year students host it and do all the organising – so not only was our class of just 7 organising the whole thing but I had to make lots of hats for it. While I was trying to unpack I was also trying to make hats. I was stressed to the max and then I was informed I had a date for the surgery….my last class before the soiree (where we would finalise everything) and one week prior to the event. CRAP.

I went into surgery in the morning and I was seriously contemplating going to class afterwards (it’s at night) as it was just suppose to be exploratory surgery. I was only suppose to be under for 10-15 mins. I was in surgery for 1.5 hours. They found lots of endometriosis and had to cut and cauterise. I was in so much pain when I was sent home…but then I had an allergic reaction to the oxycodone. SO I stopped taking pain killers entirely and kept working too hard. I saw my doctor 5 days post surgery and I hadn’t healed at all. One of my incisions was slightly infected and I could barely walk. My fingers had been stabbed repeatedly and I thought I had torn something in my shoulder while blocking. I didn’t sleep at all for the next 48 hours and was still making hats in the carpark before the show.

soiree5

 

Taken by my secret identity friend

 

Then after months and months of horribleness I had nothing left to do except sit and watch the show with my wonderful family beside me.

Miss Fairchild - Parade

 

One of the hats that will be in the spring/summer collection (It seems my secret identity has slipped a little)

Taken by Lilli from Frocks & Frou Frou

I had felt so alone all year I cried at how many people turned out to support me. The only 3 classmates who talked to me hadn’t come back for second year so I spent entire classes having no one talk to me but the teacher. I missed so many classes I thought I would fail and yet each time a hat would appear on it’s due date. The event went incredibly smoothly even though I forgot to do pretty much every single job that was mine (I actually fully expect to fail the “work as a team” unit). I was surrounded by people who loved me and who literally (in a semi circle around me) shielded me from the horribleness.

Miss Fairchild - exhibition

Me & my mini b&w collection  for the exhibition part of the soiree (again taken by Lilli)

Miss Fairchild & Family

My family, My hats & Me….

It was that night that I realised how lucky I was. I have had an amazing support team this year who have literally kept me alive…despite depressions best efforts to kill me. I slept the last 3 days straight and have been taking pain killers regularly. I can walk again. The sores on my fingers from sharp sewing needles are healing. My hands hurt a little bit less and I am actually…kind of….happy? I think…it’s not a feeling I am all that familiar with. My girls are happier. Miss A and Miss H have been discharged by their therapists. We all have our own space. We have been eating yummy food like we used too. The tv is never on and the house is silent after 9pm. I fall asleep to the sounds of a quiet happy house. In my own bed. With beautiful 1000 thread count sheets that I could never afford (a housewarming present from a very kind friend). When I get cold I wrap my electric blanket throw around myself (another housewarming present from another awesome friend). I light my beautiful candles each night, no longer mass produced glasshouse ones but beautiful TANDA Modern ones made in a just for me scent by a friend who started a new business of hand poured soy wax candles with wood wicks. Hubby has taken to making sure there is a new bunch of fresh flowers on my bedside table each week.

Miss Fairchild - Bedside table

 

I can’t wait to run again. To lift again. (no exercise allowed til at least 6 weeks post surgery) To do outfit shots in front of my beautiful new lemon tree that fruits all year round. To blog the weird and whacky and wonderful from my book collection which is finally all unpacked. I will also be launching my new business “Miss Fairchild: Milliner” which will commence with a small spring/summer collection of vintage reproduction pieces made almost entirely of vintage millinery supplies.

I survived. Now it’s time to thrive.

Miss Fairchild

Taken the morning after the soiree….well not technically morning… about 5pm when I woke up

Miss Fairchild xoxo

HOME!

Just a quick note to say I should be back blogging soon. After 7 long months we finally are in our own home. After a very long day – I am in my own bed, in my own home with my wonderful family. It’s been rough but finally, finally things are looking up.

Thank you for everyone’s love and support.

Miss Fairchild xoxo