We all carry memories of a life gone by, some of these are happy memories, some of them not so happy. Regardless of their positive sway memories are the foundation of who we are, they dictate how we behave in given situations, and when presented show the outside world a little piece of yourself. Memories these days are displayed in a number of ways, the spoken word through tall tales and exciting reenactments, physical objects such as printed photos or trophies or even items of clothing, and the digital which in todays 21st century world is rapidly becoming our memory storage of choice.
Three months ago I wrote about goals that I wished to achieve in the near future in a post called Fixing a Headmark. As I go into 2019 I am compelled to not have so many goals as to have a way forward, two weeks ago I wrote about my desire to lose weight in the post Setting Goals. Both of these posts are still 100% relevant and correct, and this post is not designed to overwrite them or contradict them. Instead it should be seen as complimentary.
I sit here at my computer getting ready to write this weeks blog and my mind is a complete blank. I read back through my recent posts to see if there is something that needs a conclusion, read back through the end of last years for inspiration, and I think about the week that has been and realise that I have covered all that has needed coverage. It dawns on be, whoever, that I have not written about how life is post treatment, with a stable medication regime, and all things considered a reasonably stable and improved mood with no suicidal ideation. So now I am.
Each year it is not uncommon for people to set New Years Resolutions, or goals for the proceeding year. Though I do not personally subscribe to the idea of a News Years Resolution, like January 1st is the only time of year you can set goals, I do subscribe to the notion that we should be constantly growing and moving forward. To that end I have three overarching goals for 2019, along with a slew of smaller ones, that I would like to see achieved.
Today I conducted a little experiment to see who was paying attention, if there were any folks out there who have been paying attention to my posts, tweets, and articles. The result I have is unfortunately not surprising, and is the reason behind my post today. As a community, whether Maintain the Rage, Church, School, Friends, Family, Work, Clubs, Hobbies or otherwise we need to ensure we keep a closer eye on one another, and Check In once in a while.
Tis the season and unless you have been living under a rock, with earplugs in, completely blocking out the outside world, you are no doubt by now completely overwhelmed with Christmas carols, sales, advertising, lights, trees, and that one person at work who seems a little too involved in the whole Christmas Cheer side things. I am going to start by saying I am not exactly Christmas's biggest fan, not the reason behind the season which is the birth of Jesus Christ, but the commercial, Santa Clause, snow effect, carolling, blinking lights, nonsense that the day and subsequent season has become.
My wife wrote a post this week surrounding her love affair with food and the journey through anorexia to now obesity, this isn't being mean just factual. This has sparked me to share my story, feelings, and love hate relationship with food. I hope this post will resonate with someone and you are empowered to take charge of your intake.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my desire to "get my old brain back" and how I was despondent because it felt like everything I did was laborious or these things didn't happen at all. I was also concerned that my drive to achieve things, my edge, the 'A' factor if you will was some what lost. Well it seems I was running an old version of OS and it just took a little while to reboot, as this week saw a return to a slightly less manic, and more controlled version of my previous self.
Over the past couple of weeks since ECT I have been blessed by the almost complete removal of Suicidal Ideations, reduction in the feeling of depression, and the decrease in general negativity. With this all been said, as I have been back at work, endeavouring to be more proactive around the house with both chores and children, and participating in Bible study with my wife every evening. All in all things have bee going pretty well, but there are a few things that have made me want my old brain back.
This week saw the last exam for the semester, and the last contact day for University in 2018. Though I have enjoyed the learning and content covered this year, I am also looking forward to having some down time and enjoying time with the family, friends, hobbies, and other neglected facets of my life. The journey through 2018 has been an interesting one, with a new child, new mental health issues, and the challenges of continuing to juggle everything else.
Anyone who has been following my social media on Facebook or Twitter, and those who have been reading my blog for longer than a week will know I have Depression and Anxiety disorder. This has meant that I have had a course of ECT, been on a myriad different medications, and see a psychiatrist and psychologist on a regular basis. All of this is done with the hope that I can continue to exist with some sort of sense of "normality". As part of that I endeavour to continue to live my life as though my mental illness didn't exist, I study, I parent, I work, and I try to be there for my friends. Sometimes things don't always go to plan.
I have been wracking my brain trying to think about what this post was going to be about. I kept bouncing between my mental state, my placement, my family, my study, and everything else in between. I couldn't sensibly decide on one topic to share with you all. So I have decided to share all of them. This weeks post will be The Week That Was.
This week saw the end of my treatment. No more Electro Convulsive Treatments. No more trips to the hospital to have a current run through my head in the vein hope that it will set me straight. It also hopefully means an end to the annoying memory loses I have been experiencing the past couple of weeks. It also, hopefully, means I can just move on with my life and go back to living it.
With three treatments left this week, I am finally on the downhill run. I am not going to lie, I will be glad to have the treatments all done and dusted, be back at work, and resume some sort of normality. The memory loss has been quite significant this past week, with some of those memories being shared with you this post. I don't regret choosing ECT as a route, I firmly believe that without the decision to undergo ECT I wouldn't be here to whinge about it, or its side effects.
The past week has been a little tumultuous with the dizzying heights of the Queensland Training Awards, the crushing depths of my depression, which comes with all the treatment side effects following ECT. I would love to claim that my week was smooth sailing. I would love to save that the Awards where the boost to my confidence and self worth that I needed. I would love to say that my treatment has been amazing, I feel better and that I have suffered no ill effects, but alas I cannot. Instead I will share with you the very raw details of the week that was in the hope of raising awareness of mental health, rescuing stigma surrounding ECT, and to encourage others to push themselves and study further.
For those of you just tuning in I have been receiving ElectroConvulsive Therapy (ECT) for a little over a week now, and the experience has been eye opening if nothing else. Firstly, I will say that any treatment should be weighed up with its pros and cons, and should be considered by the individual. I considered ECT to be my solution to a problem that was all too likely to be fatal. Secondly, the person undergoing ECT will need all the love and support those around them can muster, for reasons I will go into in a moment. Finally, I am profoundly thankful for those around me, friends, family, or otherwise, without you I wouldn't be able to go on this journey.
I feel compelled to write about my most recent ElectroConvulsive Therapy (ECT) experience. For those who aren't aware I am undergoing a course of ECT for my Depression, after attempting many different anti-depressants and mood stabilisers, along with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), despite this my Suicidal Ideation continued, and actually resulted in a plan.
This week has seen a dramatic shift towards the negative, motivation has been low, and I have felt like I have been wearing a lead apron and dragging around and anchor. I would love to attribute my feeling to an event of change in circumstance but unfortunately I cannot. Instead I am left damning my own brain and its inability to remain stable for longer than 20 minutes.
As you all painfully aware, mainly because I don't hide anything, I have an exceptionally full plate. I work full time shift work as a Nurse, study for my Bachelor Full Time, be a Father to my three children, Husband to my Wife, Chair of the Diploma of Nursing Society, Assistant Group Leader of one of the local Scout Groups, and somewhere find time to stop and recharge. This has meant that I am very time poor most of the time and I cut corners to make things work. Unfortunately you can only run like this for so long before you start Running on Empty.
As anyone who follows my Twitter or Facebook would know I was nominated for the Vocational Student of the Year award. The weekend just gone was the award ceremony for the finalists, and eventual winners. The night was amazing, and is completely available on Twitter under the official hashtags #QTACQ and #QTA2018, and all of my coverage is under #MaintainTheRage.
One coping mechanism I have adopted to deal with my Depression and Anxiety is to keep busy. Sometimes I boarder on being too busy and burning myself out, but generally I am at a steady pace of flat out. One of my projects that I have been working on has taken its next step.
In everyday life we all wear masks. Sometimes we put one on so we can work our retail job with a smile, sometimes it's so we can visit our mother in law and keep things civil, other times it's simply so others don't ask us how we really are. That's the mask I have been wearing, and it's starting to get heavy.
I would love to say that I was coasting along, achieving things and kicking goals, staying motivated, keeping everything under control. But I would be lying. Though I have achieved a lot this week, mainly around the house, I have been riding some wave of energy that I know is slowing down and beginning to break. I know that my Psychiatrist can only adjust medications so much before he has to wean me on one, and start me on another. Which just creates weeks of pain. I may not be doing well, but I am surviving, and thats a start.
Most weeks have their ups and downs, most have lessons to be learnt and things to take away, most have happy memories and troubling memories. This week was no different. I have found a new well of motivation, and I have been drawing upon it to achieve things around the house, work my shifts, spend time with the family and try and squeeze in some self care. But not everything goes as planned.
In recent weeks I have been endeavouring to be more motivated, I have endeavoured to achieve more, I have endeavoured to complete tasks that have been on my mind for a while. I have tried to accomplish a lot of these and failed at most.
When reflecting over the week that has been it has certainly had its ups and down. I crammed for my final A&P exam, I was a nervous wreck for weeks leading up to said exam, I featured in my local paper, I started journalling again, I still have this headache I can't seem to shake, I started looking into investment properties with my wife, and I got away with a check up with the Psychiatrist without a medication change. This week has been hectic, in both the amount going on and the severity of the emotional drain. My week can be summed up with Shake (mainly caused by anxiety), Rattle (from the medication), and Roll (because I just have to Roll with it).
Never have I starred into my computer screen, mulled over for so long, pained at the thought of a post as much as I have today. Not because I am unable to write, or because of time constraints, or lethargy. My issue has been how to express what is going on in my Brain, I was reminded of the opening verse of a very well known epic poem by Edgar Allan Poe.
I feel the need to discuss what lies at the core of everything I do, everything I feel, everything I am. My faith. It is not something I usually talk about on such a wide platform, but it is not something I am ashamed of either. My faith to me is like the unyielding companion on life journey, the supportive friend, the shelter in the storm. In my faith I know who I am and where I am going.
Nursing is a tough gig by anyones standard, the demands put upon us to know medications, procedures, illnesses, conditions, symptoms, cultural traits and behaviours, be able to assess pain, nutrition, hydration, mental state, and to be able to perform our ever increasing mound of responsibilities while maintaining our smile, our professionalism and conducting our duties with aplomb. Then on top of all that add in a large dose of self doubt, insecurity, second guessing, negative self talk, fear, paranoia, anxiety, reluctance, demotivation, and malaise. That's Nursing with Depression.
Firstly, I apologise for the delay in this post, and the absence of last weeks. I was suffering terribly with my depression, motivation was at an all time low, and i had zero energy. Since then, I have seen my psychiatrist, had a medicine change, had a drastic change in diet, and felt better about myself.
Dear Luke, I received you letter and thought it pertinent to issues a reply. I would like to start by saying thank you for continuing to provide the medication that is both prescribed and needed. I am aware of the events of the past several months and wish to convey my viewpoint and hope that I am able to provide you with some sort of understanding as to my actions and subsequently the feelings you have been experiencing.
Dear Brain, There have been several events over the past months that has me concerned. As co-resident of this body we share, I felt it pertinent to contact you in the interest of working through these misadventures. I would like to discuss the sense of absolute dread for no apparent reason, the overall sense of apathy and laissez faire attitude towards almost everything, and what can only be described as the unwillingness to retain the simplest of information or focus on the task at hand.
I am finding it difficult to be motivated to achieve anything. Betting our of bed is difficult, going to work is difficult, enjoying the time with my family is difficult. Everything feels cumbersome and laborious. I have spoken to my Psychiatrist and he is even a little unsure of a clear direction of where to go.
I am feeling at the lowest point for my my motivation that I have felt since taking my medication. Everything is a struggle, or effort, the things I love doing are chores, and even playing with my daughter or spending time with my very pregnant wife is emotionally draining.
My wife is 38 weeks pregnant, which means at any point she could spontaneously spawn a new little human, and I can't wait to meet her.
I write this as I prepare for my fifth shift out of seven in a row, at which point I will have a day off, then have eight more in a row. I spend my time at home either sleeping, studying or attempting to spend some quality time with the family. I am not work fit at all.
So as my medications begin to take a better effect and I can see improvement on the anxiety front, I am faced with returning to work and the beginning of University in a couple of day. The reality of how much work I have ahead of me is starting to hit home, and I would be lying if is said I wasn't a little nervous.
This week has been an improvement, when compared to those recently. I have had fewer anxiety attacks, not to say none, more days with a positive outlook, and fewer ideations. When all things are considered, a reasonably good week. Then to top it all off, my Nursing Registration came through finally, so I can now start work in the coming weeks.
After seeing my Psychiatrist, and following a dismal week of terrible anxiety and low mood, we have decided to make some medication changes. We have also decided to continue with weekly visits, and I have no doubt after talking with my Psychologist today, Monday, that will change to a more frequent visit as well. It's going to be a long road to recovery I feel.
I write this post following a rough week of anxiety and frustration. I write this knowing that I am going mohave a rough couple of weeks ahead. I write this knowing that despite complications my Psychiatrist is doing everything he can. I write this so people know and understand what I am going through. I write this to normalise the conversation. I write this as I am sitting here scared that I will loose myself.
So over the past couple of weeks I have been writing about my journey through a poor state of Mental Health; New Year Just Me, Breaking Point, and First Steps. Since then I have seen a Psychologist, and a Psychiatrist and been on differing medications for a fortnight. This post will be a reflection on the week that was. Please note I will not hold back on what I have experienced.
In any journey to recovery there are the first steps that need to be taken. For a broken limb its weeks in a cast, for and infection its antibiotics, but for depression, anxiety and other effectors of Mental Health, the first step is asking for help. I have now taken my first step.
I write this post as my Mental Health is at one of its lowest points I can remember. I share this with you all for two main reasons, so you don't fall into the same pitfalls, and to keep me accountable. For some of the readers this will come as a shock, for others and inevitability. Let it be known, I may not be OK today, but I will preserver.
I like to think that things are going pretty well. I completed my Diploma of Nursing at the end of last year, I have secured a full-time job as an Enrolled Nurse at the Facility I wanted, I have a new baby girl due in the early days of April 2018, and my other two children are doing swimmingly. Yet, I feel drained, I feel apathetic, lethargic, I feel that everything is an effort and one more often not worth beginning. I am struggling.
So my darling little girl, Darby, is turning two in a little under two weeks, and she is in full swing of the terrible twos. Though she is by no short order the worst two year old I have seen, looked after or heard of, she is definitely pushing the boundaries and exercising her authority.
For those who haven't been keeping up with whats going on, I have completed my Acute Care Placement and subsequently my Diploma of Nursing. It was a great 5 weeks, there are daily Reflections to catch-up on, and a wonderful experience. Following on from that we all had our Badging/Pinning ceremony on Wednesday as a graduation of sorts. I was then lucky enough to be asked in for an Interview at one of the Local Private Hospitals.
In case some of you haven't realised, I am a bit of a geek. I love Star Trek and most other Sci Fi movies and shows, Board Games, Role Playing games, and Warhammer 40,000. Now I love to assemble and paint my miniatures, just as much as I love playing with them with my friends and family, and having a good laugh. However, over the past 18 months, thanks Nursing School, I haven't had the time available to enjoy my hobby of choice. Until this week.
A quality most look for in an employee, partner, friend or simply a person they wish to engage with on some basic level, is honesty. To that end, in June I wrote two articles #3Rs and Controlled Chaos, revolving around how I Reflect, Relax and Recharge and how I spin all the plates in my busy world. The honesty part of all of this is, I haven't been recharging as much as I needed to, and I have been sacrificing my friends and family in the effort to achieve everything I have been of late, and neither are sustainable.
A lot of what I do in my life is on a volunteer basis, Scout Leader, Student Representative Council, Student Participation and Retention Committee, CQUniversity Diploma of Nursing Society, and writing this Blog. I get just as much, if not more, satisfaction then I do from my paid vocation. This had me thinking about the attitude some people have today around Volunteering. It is common to hear opinions like what am I going to get out of it, what does it pay, and why would you give so much time to that?
I am a planner; short term, medium term, and long term. I like to know what I am doing next week, next month, next year, and sometimes I pipe dream and try and plan out the next decade. This has lead me to some great situations, experiences and people, and some not so pleasant ones. But, I would still rather have a plan then to stumble around in the dark. To plan effectively though, each phase has a very deliberate goal associated with it. That is the topic of discussion today. What I consider the important things each phase of planning needs; the Short, the Medium and the Long Term.
We all go about our daily toils for various reasons, we go to work because we all enjoyed breakfast and thought more food would be great, we send our children to school so they may become educated and hopefully out perform us, we wash our clothes so others will actually talk to us and we clean out homes so we don't wind up on reality television. These mundane activities all have reasons, motivations or at least some sense of why. But have you every stopped to consider the reason why you do most of your actions? It may surprise you that some things you do you simply do because you always have. In Leadership we always discuss this notion of culture change and how we can go about it, and the hardest thing to overcome is Thats the way we have always done it. No one knows why, or who made the decision, simply thats the way its always been.
A departure from my normal posts and an open wound that I refuse to let heal, this post will be about Suicide and raising awareness. As a former ADF member, Nursing Student and Ship Mate of a someone who committed suicide I have a personal interest and mission to raise awareness for our Brothers and Sisters in uniform.
Through out our lives we get called a lot of different things, whether by virtue of our job, by our loved-ones, our friends and those around us. These names, these titles, carry with them a certain level of expectation from the person giving them to us; it places us in a position that we may not fully understand ourselves.
Last week I discussed Mentorship in my article Walking With were the idea of providing what someone requires to achieve the goal they have set is a kind of Patronage. This week I want to discuss Legacy. If we consider Mentorship as answering the question of How, Legacy is answering the question Why?
I have been reflecting this week on my personal journey, my failures and triumphs, the good leaders and the bad, the men and women who invested their time in me, and those who left a lasting impression. I reflected on leadership and the importance of Mentoring those who we lead and not just giving blind directions. I reflected on the importance of walking a journey with someone beside them, not in front leading blindly, or from behind barking arbitrarily. This lead me to write about, what I believe, is the most important facet of Leadership, and that is Mentoring. The understanding between two individuals at different points on their journey to walk together and learn from each others experiences. This may sound like a different model of mentoring than what is commonly taught, namely where an experienced person takes an inexperienced person and attempts to impart knowledge and experience on them. I kindly draw your attention back to the person leading from the front. Or where a person will share their experiences with staff or individuals via a mass email while never actually allowing time for the people to engage with them personally, I draw you attention to the person barking from the rear.
When I was younger, my parents, especially my Father, wanted to ensure that I was self-sufficient, self-motivated, but most importantly, self-disciplined. We all learn what is right and what is wrong, we develop a morale compass that points us in the right direction, the hardest thing to teach our children is how to read their compass and navigate by it. One of the waypoints to self-discipline that I was taught by my parents was Boundaries.
I have been reflecting over the week, and discussing with fellow Nursing Students, some of my previous work history, what it entailed and why I am not still doing some of those jobs. It forced me to look at the jobs in a different light. While I was doing them, I genuinely enjoyed them, then for one reason or another, I stopped enjoying them, I left, and began a different journey. In this post, I will explain three of my most recent, most intense and most enjoyable jobs that I have been involved in, what I took away from them and why I eventually left. I will talk about my life as a Croupier, my Navy Career and my time as a Not-For-Profit employee.
A brief look into what I am planning over the coming months, what it means for me personally and what it means for this blog. As with everything in our lives, planning is important, but we shouldn't lose site of the journey. For me this whole journey of becoming as Nurse has been wonderful, insightful and joyful. I am also aware that God decides I am needed elsewhere then I must go, that is after all how I wound up in Rockhampton in the first place.
Continuing on from Part 1 that was published last week, I covered how my wife and I maintain boundaries and structure, push for improvement and love unconditionally, as a united front with both of our children. This week I will be discussing how I try to, and sometimes don't, hold it together when things don't go according to plan. I will also be talking about how we are all human and lose our temper, but as parents we need to regroup and own up to those actions. And finally, I will cover how important it is to understand the children you love so dearly.
So following my post last week about how my wife and I Maintain the Rage in our marriage, my son asked me why I haven't written about him and being a Dad. So here it is, Childhood Rage how I endeavour to raise my children to be somewhat respectful, independent, useful and productive members of society, and how I Maintain my Rage when my best intentions don't quite work out. This topic is too much for one post, so I am going to split this over two weeks, this week will be focussed on what I do as a parent to achieve all of the things I mentioned previously, and next week I will go over how I regroup and Maintain my Rage when things don't go according to plan. So with that said, along with my wife as we are a united front, I maintain boundaries and structure, push for improvement and love unconditionally.
I have decided to talk about my favourite subject, my Wife and our life together. But before I loose the male portion of my readership this isn't going to be a love story with walks on the beach, champagne breakfast and how I was the perfect embodiment of Casanova. Instead this is going to be how my Wife and I stay together, keep it together and Maintain Our Rage. The three main concepts I wish to convey with regard to Our Rage are; Communication, Priorities, and Making Time.
#SpeedBump not a #Roadblock - Overcoming apparent adversity through #LifesChallenges
Student Voice - What does it mean to me? #Advocacy #Reformation #Honesty
Scouts - The Journey so far
Controlled Chaos - How I spin the plates and Maintain my Rage
Tips and tricks for moving based on many moves during my time
#3Rs - #Reflect, #Relax and #Recharge, thoughts and stories used to #MaintainTheRage
The Australian Process to becoming a Nurse
Maintaining My Rage - The How and Why