Weightloss Chronicles

HAPPY NEW YEAR DEAR DIARY {Weightloss chronicles #2}

Happy New Year Dear Diary,

2015 and another year of promise.

You know how ill I have been this past year.  And you know that illness has gone so much deeper than skin deep.  And you also know that I have been avoiding the inevitable, the obvious, the thing I must confront before I can even begin my journey back to mental health.


I haven’t wanted to face it. I haven’t wanted to take responsibility.   I have been waiting for some divine intervention, some bolt of motivation to enter my body that would render me incapable of doing anything but answer the call of fitdom.

None came.

And so my body broke down.  Again and again.

I am a slow learner it seems.

I will often imagine the time when I die and pass over to wherever it is my soul might go and I interrogate the people that handed out willpower and motivation and ask them why they didn’t dole out copious amounts to me.  And I imagine imploring them as to why they not only decided to make me fat, but also bald and an alcoholic as well, like some cruel twist of sadism.  I imagine them cowering at my anger, spewing out excuses promising never to do that to me again.  I look at them, smugly, nodding my pleasure at my indignant voice and how they bowed to it.  I feel vindicated, pompous, my job is done.

Except it isn’t done.  I’m dead.  I lived my entire life lamenting my weight, my hair, my inability to drink and a whole heap of other things besides.  And in all likelihood because I failed to act, my demise has come early.  I never did get to taste the sweet taste of health, vitality, peace of mind.

And that is the point.  As far as we know for absolutely sure, we only have one life.  We only have one crack to make it a good one. What a good one looks like is different for everyone and what looked good yesterday might not be good today, but without your health it doesn’t matter.  Without health we have nothing.  And when we have done being not healthy, we die.  Often earlier than expected.

Nearly two years ago, I came across this youtube video.  Two years.  Despite all the evidence I ignored all the signs.  I did not want to get up off my ass and do something.


But today, dear Diary, this the first day of the new year, I am making changes.  My body is not liking it one bit.  My body is yelling its displeasure at me, but I am overruling it.  For today, I am overruling it.

For that is how I conquer my addiction to alcohol each day.  I simply don’t drink for one day.  Nor the next, or the next.  One day at a time, I am taking my sobriety to five years in just a couple of weeks time.

I have to be able to replicate that for my body.

And so it is, my first step to HEALTH this year – Exercise.

Just writing it, my mind recoils.  We have never enjoyed exercise, my mind and I.  I have stark memories of coming last in every race, of never hitting the hockey ball for the entire match, of being selected for the netball team based on my height alone and being told to avoid the ball at all costs due to my inability to actually catch the thing, of being wonderfully at home in the water swimming, but never being fast enough for any team.  My brain is screaming at me “why are you putting us through this!

But this time, all I am doing is walking.  I have invested in a Fitbit and all I am going to do is move my body every day.  For the recommended 10,000 steps.  I am told that this is about an hours worth of walking every day.  I can do that.  I absolutely can do that.

My brain, as you know, dear Diary, is telling me I can’t and I won’t lie the walk around the lake was tough.  As Mr C and I walked, all I could think of was the jiggling belly and the chaffing underarm fat, and the sweating back fat.  I kept imagining people looking out of their net curtained windows, in shock, some laughing, at this lily white obese woman walking past their door.  But 7,000 steps later and I had made it home.  Sweaty and slightly red in the cheek I grant you, but after my 30 minute walk I had made it two thirds of the way to my goal.  I still have to walk the dogs tonight, so I am hopeful I can achieve it.


It’s so much more than just losing weight isn’t it Diary?  People think that willpower alone would cure the obesity problem, but it won’t.  It doesn’t.  It requires facing your demons.  It requires facing your fears and doing it anyway.  And that is no mean feat.  No one tells you that really.  No one tells you the gut wrenching fear that grips you as you step out into the sunshine to take your first walk, or your first healthy food shop, or your first green smoothie (which taste surprisingly good, by the way).  No one tells you that.

You see it, of course, on programs like The Biggest Loser, but until you experience it, you can’t know.  Much like giving birth.

But today, I pushed through that fear.  I did it.  And tomorrow I may just do it again.

Until next time Diary,

SHW Signature

Mental Illness

We need to talk about mental illness, depression and suicide NOW!


I went to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 today.  It was awesome.  I loved the book and I loved the movie.

But throughout the movie I could not help but feel sad.  As Philip Seymour Hoffman graced the screen in the effortless way that was his acting style, I couldn’t help but wonder where it had all gone wrong.

Just before the main feature began, an advert for another movie, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, was shown.  In it, glimpses of Robin Williams were to be seen, reprising his role of Theodore Roosevelt.

As I watched The Hunger Games, I kept thinking of Philip and Robin and what a great loss they were.  How they were so brilliant at their craft, so revered, so loved, and yet how inadequate they both must have felt to be pushed to the fatal end they both endured.  As a recovering alcoholic, I know only too well that addiction is born out of a feeling of not being good enough.  I have felt the pain that comes with inadequacy and the lure of suicide, knowing only too well the pain this will cause to family and friends.  In that moment, the pain of living is worse than the pain of knowing the devastation your loss will cause.  The promise of release from that pain all too seductive.

This week the internet has been all agog at the comments made by Mark Latham about Lisa Pryor’s comments on how she copes with motherhood.  In his Financial Review article, he likens the stress of tending of his garden to the work pressures that she felt as a mother and full time medical student.  He trivialises the pressure that women feel in this day and age, and goes so far as to disparage the choice of a woman to work for reasons other than financial gain.

Additionally this week was this post by Sarah Wilson in which she poses the question of whether or not her autoimmune disease can be caused, or at least exacerbated by stress.  The headline was unfortunate – Is Self Hatred Making Us Sick.  The backlash to this post, which was reposted on News Ltd’s website was enormous.  Whist I questioned what she wrote and didn’t agree with some of it, I admired her ability to stand back and take a look at what was and wasn’t working for her.  I certainly didn’t feel she was being prescriptive about what was causing my own autoimmune disease or how I should manage it.

What shocked me, though, was the unabashed vitriol that was espoused in reaction to this post.  Blog posts popped up all over the place denigrating what she had said as quackery and attacking her personally.  They questioned her qualification to dish out medical advice (which she was not doing) and called her credentials into question.  If stress does exacerbate Sarah’s condition, the venom spat her way must have caused her great discomfort in the autoimmune department.  It is this kind of cyber bullying that causes journalists to take their own lives.

And what is all the point of all this?  What do the deaths of actors, the challenging of women’s coping mechanisms and a post about autoimmune disease management have in common?

At the heart of all these things is mental illness.  And we don’t talk about it nearly enough.

Depression as an illness, is still a major cause of morbidity and death, and we need to understand it better, and we need to prevent people from killing themselves because they are depressed. – Changing Minds, ABC

When I got home from the movies, I decided to watch the the ABC series Changing Minds.  I had taped it weeks ago, but for some reason could not bring myself to watch it.  Maybe it is because I suffer from terrible clinical depression and I did not want to face the fine line that keeps me on this side of a psychiatric ward. Maybe it is because mental health is stigmatised so much that I try to lock my illness inside a cave somewhere deep inside my head, pretending that it isn’t there at all.  I advocate for mental illness, yet I myself still feel stigmatised by it.

I watched the series and it shocked me.  It shocked me because we simply do not talk about it enough and because of that people are not getting the help they need, especially in the wider community.  People try to ignore it, they do, but it cannot be ignored.

Actors are buckling at an alarming rate because of it, Sarah was trying to connect the dots between anxiety (read mental health) and physical well being, and Mark Latham was stigmatising mental health in women in the way only he (and many others like him) can in a publication largely read by men.

Men are three times as likely to commit suicide than women.  This is because the stigma is so rife, that men, in a world largely controlled by men, do not feel that they can talk about their mental illness.  And if they do, they are often turned away.  So they choose to leave behind loved ones and take their own lives.  Does Mark Latham think he is helping the cause of those men?  Never mind the women he is berating, how about the men?

Those people who chose to call Sarah a quack for her beliefs about her own condition, who chose to insult her as a person, as a journalist and as a personal blogger, did they think they were encouraging dialogue for those people who suffer from mental illness and feel that they cannot seek help?  Upon reading her article, I did not see as her attacking them personally.  I saw it as her seeking answers to her own condition and citing things that made sense to her, recognising that during times when she feels better mentally, she also feels better physically.  She was, in fact, talking about mental health.

All of this is about mental health, about when we feel better mentally, we can operate better on a physical level too – we are better human beings.  Without mental health we have nothing.  Our physical systems seem harder to cope with, our demanding jobs are harder to cope with, life itself is harder to cope with.

We live in a world where pressures increase exponentially and yet the discussion of mental illness is just not happening.

The dialogue of how to address the increasing mental illness and suicide issue needs to begin in earnest.  It needs to happen and it needs to happen now.

If you are experiencing any depression, suicidal thoughts or extreme mental anguish, please talk to someone you can trust, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Until next time,

SHW Signature




The seductress and the middle aged woman who is learning to live

How, when you have depression, do you find the light in the day?

I have no idea to that question.

I am only me.  The glass is half-empty me.  The “some days it’s hard to live” me.

I find life really really hard.

So hard in fact I became a raging alcoholic.

Raging might be too strong a word.

I was functional.  Sort of.

I always managed to take my children to school.  I always managed to get their dinner on the table.  I always managed to get their clothes washed.  I hardly ever managed to keep the house straight.

I have friends who didn’t fare so well.  Miss J used to go to school with a girl whose mother constantly kept her at home for “family” days.  In reality, she was too hungover to take her daughter to school.

I didn’t get that bad.  But, lordy, I could easily have done so.

I decided today that I was going to take control of my life and lose weight.  I enrolled at the Tony Ferguson centre near me.  Yes, it’s a milkshake thing.  That’s not the point.

The consultant spoke to me of what was and was not allowed and the rather sticky subject of alcohol came up.

Um,” she said, “alcohol isn’t really allowed.”

That’s okay,” I said, “I’m a recovering alcoholic.  I’ve been sober for nearly five years.”

Her eyes lit up.  “Good girl,” she said.  “If you can do that, you can do anything.”

Giving up alcohol never really seemed that big a deal to me so when people react this way I am always so surprised.  It’s the living of life that I find so fucking hard.

I looked at her.  “Yes, I suppose I can do anything.”

I don’t feel like I can do anything.  I don’t.  There are days when I feel I can’t breathe, never mind do “anything”.

But I did stop drinking.  I made that conscious choice not to pick up a glass of wine.

In AA there is a saying that one glass is too much and a bottle is not enough.  That’s what it is like for an alcoholic.  There is no moderation.  There is no “just a couple”.  That first sip of alcohol is the beginning of the end.

For us, alcohol is a seductive mistress.  We don’t want to sleep with her, but her allure, her promise of a good time, her promise of helping us to forget how fucking hard life is, is just too tempting.  And we give in.  Hard.  Only to bitterly regret it the following morning.  Oh Dear God the remorse.  But not enough remorse to stop us doing it again.  Usually the very next day.

And so I decided to look that mistress in the eye and say no more.

She didn’t want to let me go.  She kept knocking on the inside of my brain willing me to take just one sip of alcohol.  Just one sip.  What harm could it possibly do?  One sip, and all the pain of living can be eradicated once more.  And you can be the good time girl again.  The one that laughs with abandon and is jolly and sociable and fun to be around.

But I held on.  I resisted her.  Just one day at a time, I resisted.

And here I am.  Learning to live life without my mistress.  Like a child learning to walk.

I want to be cheery and laugh and see only good in life.

I just don’t know how right now.

I will get there.  Dear lord I hope I get there before I die.

I keep telling myself that I can do this.  I CAN FUCKING DO THIS DAMMIT!!!

And so I keep waking up.  Willing myself to push past the seductress, followed by the “I want to die” thoughts.

And I tell myself “Just for today I am going to survive“.

Because that’s all I have right now.  Survival.

Living will come another day.  Living will slowly emerge as I learn to take off my training wheels and learn to embrace life in all its fucked up glory.  I imagine it prancing over the mountain of shit on its trusty steed saying in its deep strong voice “Here you go Sarah, life is for the living, and here is how you do it.  Now go. Live.  Make your mark!

I’m trying.  I promise I am trying.

Please know that.

Until next time,

SHW Signature



To You

Thankful Thursday {Choosing Gratitude}

I think it is safe to say that I have been having a pity party this week.

I’ve been feeling extremely sorry for myself.

I’ve been looking at myself and lamenting all the things that are wrong with me – my baldness, my obesity, my crappy nails, my crappy feet.  You know, that systematic attack us women do on each and every part of our body.

Then two things happened.

I read this post from the beautiful Rachel over at The Chronic Ills of Rach

And I read this post from That Summer Feeling.

I know that this depression thing totally sucks.  That there are times when living life on its own fucking terms doesn’t seem to work.  I know that looking at myself and systematically denigrating all that I am is just a manifestation of the toxic ball of shit that I feel inside.  I know this.

And it is because I know this that when I read those posts I could step outside of myself for just a little bit.  It is because of this, I could choose to work on something that wasn’t about me.  It is because of this knowledge that I strive each and every single day to live a life that is better than the day before it.  It is because of this that I want to BE better.  It is because of this that I WILL be better.  It is because of this that I don’t want to take the life I have for granted.

How grateful I am to be living in a time and place where I can connect with such incredible beings who live thousands of kilometres away, who inspire me so much.

How grateful I am to be sober, to be working on myself each and every day so that I can be more present for my family, so that I can work towards living my best life.

How grateful I am to live in a time where the quality of wigs are so incredible that no-one knows I am wearing one unless I tell them.

How grateful I am to be able to create, to be able to contribute some goodness to this world, rather than take away from it.

How grateful I am to be alive, right here, right now, in this moment, talking to you, telling you my story.

How grateful I am that you are reading my story.

Today, this Thursday, I am simply grateful.

Much love,

SHW Signature


One Word Wednesday {Serenity}

This little prayer has saved me.  Many times.

It reminds us that we are not always in control.  That many things happen to us in the course of a day that we are not able to manipulate to our bidding and that, simply, we should just let them go.

As a recovering alcoholic, this prayer is vital to my daily routine.

I forget, obviously, to remind myself.  To take that deep breath, close my eyes, and to let it go.  I forget to remember that I am not in control.  My stomach contorts, and I get frustrated and I stand on the precipice of that abyss.

And just when I am about to jump in, I remember.

I breathe in – Grant me the SERENITY

I breathe out – To ACCEPT the things I cannot change

I breathe in – To change the things I can

I breathe out – and the WISDOM to know the difference.

That is all I need and peace of mind is once again restored.

I hope it brings you some peace as well.

Much love,

SHW Signature

Make a Card Monday

Make A Card Monday {Sobriety Cards}

And one day she woke up, all foggy and hurt from the night before, and she knew.  She knew that the grip that alcohol had on her had to be loosened, had to be demolished.  So that she could live her life the way it was intended, so that she could live her very very best life.  And so her journey to sobriety began.

Do you know anyone who is a recovering addict?

If you do, you will know how important each anniversary of their sobriety is to them.

So important in fact, that pins are given out at AA to celebrate each and every milestone.  We like to be rewarded for our efforts and, let’s face it, sobriety – the total abstinence of any alcohol or narcotic – takes enormous effort.  It deserves celebrating and congratulating.

But how to do it.  You can’t take them down to the pub {that would be bad}.  You could take them out somewhere, which would be lovely but you want to give them something tangible to mark the occasion, to let them know how special the anniversary is, to let them know that you get it and how proud you are of them.

How about a card?

Of course, you can’t just walk into a news agent and pick one up.  They don’t make Happy Sobriety Anniversary cards – I’ve looked.  But making one is so easy to do.  And what says I get it and I care better than a hand made card.

Below you will find two Sobriety Cards.  A sobriety anniversary is like a birthday – in fact we call it a birthday in AA {as in “I am celebrating my 5th birthday in January”} – the day that marks the rebirth of you as a sober person.  But it is also an anniversary – the anniversary of the date you made that choice.  It is a very special time and one so deserving of a hand made card.



This card was made using white card stock as the base.  The patterned paper was part of a paper pack that I bought at Aldi, the blue card stock I had on hand and the labels were made using the print and cut function on the Cameo Silhouette.  I used a corner rounder to create the curved edges.  I am really pleased with the way it turned out.  It’s bold and sassy and says exactly what it needs to say.


This one was made in exactly the same way except I turned the card around to create a landscape card.


And there you have it.  Two very easy sobriety cards to make.  I hope you give it a try and if you do, please do let me know.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

Make a Card Monday

Make a Card Monday {1} – Merry Christmas


Depression is something that fills my world like something that clouds crystal clear water.  It obscures a beautiful view.

But I don’t want it to define me and I don’t want it to define my little piece of cyberspace.  It is with me, always, but although at times it doesn’t feel like it, I do have power over it.  I know I have power over it.  Those good-thought inducing neurones exist, I just need to find ways to cause them to fire off more often than the bad-thought ones.

Enter my paper craft passion.

Paper craft is something that I adore.  I just love to scrapbook and make cards.  I haven’t done quilling yet, but I am sure that once I give it a go, I will love that too.

And so I have decided to change up the format of my blog a little bit.  As you know, I blog with great irregularity, and I blog with abandon about whatever grips my heart on any given day.  That is unlikely to change but I realise it can be relentlessly dark-filled and I don’t necessarily want to leave you with that darkness.  Thus, I am going to trial a new routine to balance the darkness and it will look like this:

MondayMake a Card Monday

TuesdayTell Your Story Tuesday

Wednesday One Word Wednesday (it is highly unlikely this will involve just one word on the page).

Thursday – To be decided (any ideas anyone?)

Friday Favourite Five Friday

I’m setting Saturday and Sunday aside for my family, but there is a great chance you will find me here as well, because, you know, I do love the sound of my own voice.  HA!

For this Make a Card Monday I just had to do a Christmas Card and in the run up to christmas there may be a few more.   Are you aware that there are only 58 days until Christmas – I nearly had a heart attack when I found out!

What does Christmas mean to you?

For me, it is filled with so much meaning.  In my childhood, with my dad’s alcoholism, our year was pretty much a continuous unpredictable form of chaos.  But come Christmas Day my parents would pull out all the stops to make it as special as possible.  My parents could have had the most awful flaming row on Christmas Eve, but come Christmas Day we would wake up to presents and love and laughter.  For one day in the year at least, we were like a normal family.

As I grew up this day represented more and more to me of what family time should mean and when I got married and had my own family, it was the one day of the year where I pulled out all the stops.  I wasn’t a great cook, but I loved cooking the turkey, the ham, the vegetables and the dessert.  I loved the family coming together and the warmth that glowed inside my heart as we all fed until we were stuffed, and laughed.  Oh my, how I loved the laughing.  And I didn’t care about the mess at the end of the day (which I never cleaned up until the next day because, you know, I’m lazy like that – and I didn’t want anything to tear me away from my beautiful glowing family), I just cared that we were together.

Christmas cards are a penny a piece, but I still love to make mine to send out.  There is a certain joy to be found in creating a card at this time of year and know that someone will receive it and put it on their mantlepiece, or sideboard, or wherever people store their cards these days.  A piece of you that they get to enjoy – I like that.

Today I have for you a classic card.

It should probably be noted that I use whatever I have in stock at the time.  I’ve been paper crafting for around 3 years now and I have quite a collection (one day I’ll give you a tour of my office).  I really do encourage you to do the same – just use whatever you have on hand.  These cards are easy to make and are very adaptable.

For my card base I had some black 15cm x 15cm cards that I bought at Kmart.  They are around $3 for 5 cards and are really quite good quality.

I then used my silhouette cameo to cut cream card stock to 14,5cm x 14,5cm.  (I will do a post on this machine in the future, so watch out for that)

I then embossed the cream card using a dot embossing folder I had using my big shot embossing/cutting machine.  I had the idea that I would emboss the entire card, but the embossing folder was only an A6 size, so it left a portion unembossed.  As it happened, I really liked it like that – this happens in card making a lot.  You have one idea and then it turns out an entirely different way that you prefer.  Just go with the flow.

embossed cream card with big shot machine

Then I printed Merry Christmas onto card and cut a banner shape using my Silhouette Cameo.  Please note, you do not need a Silhouette Cameo – just a stanley/craft knife and a ruler will suffice.

Silhouett cameo merry christmas

I then cut out the wreath shape which I found on the silhouette online store.  Again, if you don’t have a silhouette cameo, no problem.  Just find a wreath image on the internet, print it out on green card stock and cut it out.  {The picture below shows the wreath still stuck to my cutting mat which is why it doesn’t look that great}


I decided the green was a little flat, so I glittered it up using a Wink of Stella glitter brush pen.  These pens are seriously amazing little things – glitter without the mess cannot be a bad thing!

Wreath with wink of stella glitter pen

I then assembled the whole thing by gluing the cream card stock to the base card, popping the wreath onto the cream card and attaching the sentiment using double sided foam tape to give it a bit of dimension.  It still needed a pop of colour, so I added a red bow.

I then created a sentiment to go inside the card so I can write on it when it comes ready to send it.


And there you have it.  One very easy to do, but quite lovely Christmas Card.


I hope you give it a go and if you do, please do let me know.

Much love,

SHW Signature

Mental Illness

Don’t judge the depressive person – be their seratonin buddy

A friend of mine and I were talking the other day.

We were talking about depression.  She hates that I can reach such deep lows.  She hates that I can even have a dalliance with the idea of suicide.  She sees the beauty in me as a person, the value in what I am and what I bring to the table of the world and cannot understand how I can’t see it myself.

In reality, most days I do see glimpses of it.

I know that I am very much loved by my family and the increasing amount of friends I am making.  I know that my craziness, as evidenced by my bald lip-syncing decision, is brave and courageous and that every day I try to live my truth as best as I can.  I know that my daughter adores my creativity, that my husband cannot possibly imagine a life without me in it, that my son does love me even if he can’t express it,  that my grandchild adores sitting with me on my settee whilst we chomp our way through a mountain of grapes.  I have much to love, to be grateful for, to be positive about.

But the dark days exist.  Despite knowing how devastated my family would be at losing me to suicide, those thoughts do cross my mind.

I wish they didn’t, but they do.

And the most awful thing anyone can say to a person in those times is to tell them to buck up, to think positively, to be grateful for what they have.  It is terrible because, for the depressed person, it is an impossible thing to do.

And let me tell you why.

A person who is depressed has a fundamental chemical imbalance {at its most basic, a lack of seratonin}.  This chemical imbalance causes negative thoughts to predominate in the brain.   Asking a depressed person to “think positively” and to “buck up” or “chin up” is like asking a blind man to see.

Of course, depression is {largely} treatable.  There are a few things that have been proven to address the chemical imbalance.  By embarking on these things, seratonin levels rise and it is this that helps treat the depression, not just “thinking positively”.

In a nutshell they are eating correctly, exercising, sleeping well, doing something for someone else being altruistic and feeling connected (yes, this actually raises seratonin levels in the brain), getting outside into the sunshine (low vitamin D levels cause a decrease in seratonin), meditation and putting all of this into ACTION.

The problem with the depressive is that to actually act, especially when you are in the grip of a crippling episode, is really difficult.

Facing life on life’s terms is really challenging.  Us depressives tend to get caught in a loop of self talk, driven by that pesky low seratonin level, that immobilises us.  Rather than face a world we have convinced ourselves don’t want us, we remain indoors, we stay online (as this give us the illusion of being connected) and we get caught in a feedback loop of what alcoholics anonymous calls “stinking thinking”.  And so the cycle continues.  To the point where it can become so severe that the pain of that existence, the pain of living a life in so much pain becomes unbearable and suicide can feel like the only option.

Of course, we are all responsible for our own destinies.  We have choice.  But we need to be very careful about how we bandy that concept about.  As I mentioned, a biological chemical imbalance is at play here and those around the depressive must remember that.

A more helpful strategy would be to help the depressive address those things outlined above.  Phone them and offer to take them outside, to go for a walk, to ask them to come along to something you are doing.  Work with them to help them set up a routine with them that will get them exercising and sleeping well.  Become their “seratonin buddy“.

They will baulk at the idea, but gentle perseverance is the key here.  Choose moments where they are having a better day, and just sit with them when they are having a bad one.  Eventually better days will shine through.

Whatever you do, please please please don’t tell them to “just think positively”, to “stop with the pity party”, to “stop being a victim”, to “buck up”, to “put their best step forward”, to “just cheer up”.  I can tell you from personal experience that these comments do not help at all.  They are judgemental and end up making the depressive feel even worse than they did before.  They victimise the victim, assuming that being so depressed that they consider taking their own life is a choice.  Because that is what we do as humans, we wilfully choose to devastate those around us, we wilfully choose to end our life and with it all of our possible potential.

When Robin Williams committed suicide, a number of articles emerged as a counter measure to the amount of empathy he received for the tortured life he seemed to have lived.  These articles placed the blame for his suicide firmly at his feet.  “He had a choice,” they said.  They were ill informed.  They were judgements written by the authors, not one of which mentioned any of the research that proves that low seratonin levels (and others) drives negative thinking.

And there is another problem too.  Chemically dealing with this chemical imbalance is tenuous at best.  I have tried, believe me.  I have been on prozac, cymbalta as well as others, all of which represent different ways to deal with the same problem.  There are a myriad of drugs available, all attempting to increase seratonin uptake.  For some, they find the drug that works for them.  For a lot of people, however, they really struggle to find that chemically induced sweet spot.  I fell into the latter ground and eventually the side effects far outweighed any small benefit I might have been getting.  So I stopped taking them.

That decision brought with it issues of its own kind.  Some people saw it as an act of finally taking control of my own mind (because to them that is a choice I have), some saw it as being irresponsible.  None, it seemed, saw it as me making a conscious decision for the quality of my own life.  It is difficult I know for people to understand.  I live day by day without knowing from one day to the next how my seratonin levels are going to impact my thinking.

In this day and age of ra-ra positive thinking it is easy to assume that is all we need to get over the depressive hump.  It isn’t.  This movement has been the death knoll for many a depressive.  It has sparked a litany of guilt, which drives even further the stinking thinking I spoke of earlier.  Despite all the positive-talk rhetoric, suicide rates are on the increase.  Positive thinking on its own just does not work.

I urge you to please be that “seratonin buddy”.  Just be with your depressive friend/family member.  That alone will help them feel more connected, which we know helps raise seratonin levels, which we know helps to drive more positive thoughts.  You see, just being with them can have such an amazing impact.

Here at Sarah’s Heart Writes, I encourage you to come and just be.  Us depressives need to stick together, we need to know we are not alone, and more information needs to be disseminated about the ins and outs of depression and I can promise you, you will never ever be urged to think more positively, to stop playing the victim card or to stop being a martyr.

Much love from your fellow depressive,

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If you are feeling suicidal, please please talk to someone.

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Pictures of me hang upon the wall for the world to see

“What is wrong with you?  You are so grumpy!”  Mr C’s words sting me.  Mostly because they are true.   I am grumpy.

This is what I hate about depression.  The emotional roller coaster.  It sucks.

For a couple of days I have been travelling really well.  I have had hope.  I have dared to hope – of a life of meaning, of waking up and feeling light, of having direction, of living instead of just existing.

Then it creeps up on you and hits you squarely from behind.  BAM!

And suddenly you feel sad again.

Someone tagged me in a photo.  It was a photo of me.  Taken probably when I was 14 or 15.

This is me aged 14 or 15.
This is me aged 14 or 15.


It was among a whole series of photos taken at school.  At first I felt all warm and fuzzy.  Looking at those pictures was like having markers to a bygone era.  A time when life was more carefree, less complicated.

But a horrible feeling started to gnaw at me.  I tried to ignore it.

I am trying so hard not to see the negative in everything.  Trying so hard to see more of the light, less of the dark.

I posted the photo of me onto a private group to which I belong.  There were comments along the lines of “Wow, so carefree, so gorgeous.”

I looked at the photo.

It belies so much.

This time in my life was when it was the most chaotic I have ever known it to be.  It was taken probably a year before my dad became sober.  A year before some calm managed to find its way into our family.   A year that was hell on earth.

If my dad reads this, he will hate that I have written it.  Us alcoholics do not like to be reminded of the chaos we cause during our inebriated states.

But this is what alcohol does and it is my reality.  Just as what my drinking may have done to my children will be theirs.  Perhaps one day they will be writing to make sense of their lives too.

And now, I am in my forties.  A life time from when that photo was taken.

That photo that has me looking so young, so carefree, so gorgeous.

I hated myself then.

I thought I was fat, not pretty and I felt like I never fitted in.

I looked at those other school photos and thought “I just never belonged.”  I was so desperate to belong.  But alcoholism, and a mother who relies so heavily on you to make sense of her own world robs you of your own sense of self.  I could never find my tribe.  How could I possibly let anyone in to become my tribe?

I don’t remember having dreams either.  Do kids that age have dreams?  I think I toyed with wanting to become an actress.  Being someone else who wasn’t me.  Don’t we all?

Look at my hair.  How the fuck did I lose all that hair?  I miss my hair so much.  Knowing I will never be going to the hair dresser again really yanks at my soul.

I used to tease my first husband about going bald.  About how he would have to wear a wig on our wedding day.  I never meant it maliciously, just a gentle tease, something to lighten the load in a relationship that was fraught with tension.  Someone in the karma department clearly didn’t get that part of the memo.   So now I am bald.

The road to self-love is so damn hard.  You travel along so well and then a photograph lands in your inbox.

A photo so loaded with emotion.  A photo that does not represent one shred of the truth.  A photo that is just a snap shot in time, a snap shot that is a lie.  A photo that represents a life that could have been, that might have been, that perhaps should have been.

And so you mourn.  You mourn the choices that you made.  You mourn the losses you have had to endure.  You wonder how on earth you are going to put it all back together.  And you wonder what on earth it is you have to do to keep moving forward.  But keep moving you must.

It’s just a picture.  A picture of me hanging on the wall for the world to see.



Until next time,

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The day I lost my smile + how I’m going to get it back

I may have mentioned this before, but when I was at school, I was known as ‘Smiler’.  Despite my chaotic, alcoholic home life, I loved being at school and because of that I smiled.  All the time.

It occurred to me recently that I have lost my smile.  I rarely laugh, I hardly relax.  I have, in fact, become a very intense person.  I struggle to see the joy in life.  I live in a permanently heightened state of anxiety and fear.

I have no idea how I lost my smile.

When I was at school, my home life was terrible.  Dad was at his worst with his drinking, the yelling, the aggression – I spent much of my life in my bedroom, praying the chaos wouldn’t tumble past the door.  And yet each day I went to school.  Smiling.

And it wasn’t a facade.  I genuinely felt happy.  I would laugh, and play, and learn – I loved learning.  Well, I loved English, and writing the very most.

Now, my life is so much better.  A wonderful husband, 2 beautiful children, a father that has been sober since I was 16, my own sobriety of nearly 5 years.  Yet, my heart is so heavy.

So why is it that I have stopped smiling?  Where does all this anxiety come from?

I can probably pinpoint it to the day my first husband died.  I have written about this before, but that day, all confidence in myself was lost.

Previous to his death I never used to worry what people would think.  Sure, I would know that some people judged me based on my lack of fashion sense, or my very opinionated views on the world, or that I wasn’t pretty enough for the most sporty person in school, or that as a young mother I forgot important things like nappies when I went to friends’  houses, but somehow that all just washed over me.  I was happy in my own existence.  I wasn’t confident, but I was kind of happy.

That fateful day, though, a shift happened.  It was like a massive rift opened up inside my soul.  A rift that let every mean, horrible comment, every judgement of me make its way inside of me, where it could sledge away at me, change me.

Over the past 20 years I have been unable to control it.  I have been unable to sew up the rift, to let my soul heal.  That rift drove my depression and ultimately my alcoholism.  I had to numb the open, festering wound, and the only way I knew how, that seemed acceptable to me, was to drink.

I prided myself on that fact – that I never smoked, or took drugs, that I only drank when the children went to bed.  My own judgement of my sorry life enabled my drinking.

Being sober, I have had to face the fact that the rift in my heart is gaping.  For five years I have tried to ignore it.  For five years I have blamed an unkind, unjust world for the ache that permanently resides inside of me.

I can’t blame that any longer.  The smile is gone because my soul is sick.  Not because of the world outside {though that is sick too}.

Where to begin to heal.  That is the question.  For me, it will lie in my writing, my honesty and also in my creativity, which I have ignored for so very long.  I need to get in touch with my soul again.  I need to gain the strength to leave the house, to go for walks.  I need to plan my day, conquer fears, achieve goals.  I need to salve my pain, and continue to move forward.

And I need to start that journey now.  One terrifying step at a time.

I hope that if you are reading this and feeling that you too are lost, you will join me on my journey.  And I hope you know that you are not alone, you are so not alone.

Much love,

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