One to Seven.

At first glance, you notice they are all different. All seven. Each is striking. Each has character. They all have one thing in common, that ties them for eternity.

Number One can be vague, often dreamy, and spends a lot of time in their own head. Number One wants to reinvent themselves time and time again, but doesn’t always hit the mark. Number Two, next to Number One, is hopeful, has a strong work ethic, and is bubbling with energy. Two doesn’t always know where this energy comes from but hopes that Number Three can run with it. This is where Number Three stands out. Is the glass half full or half empty? Can it be both at the same time? Three loses motivation at times, look a little lost, occasionally defeated. Number Three is often happy to turn the spotlight to Number Four in an effort to get their mojo back behind the scenes.

Number Four. Good old Number Four. Bumbling, and clumsy, Four often mistakenly identifies as Number Five. It’d be cute if Four was a little kid or a baby goat, but know we all count on Number Four. I don’t think Four realises how we relieved we are to be in their presence, after spending some challenging moments in the company of One, Two and Three. So bring on the REAL Number Five, the life of this party. Happy and seemingly always in love, Five looks adoringly at everything. And is thankful they are not One, Two. Three or Four. I guess you could say Five is the perpetual optimist. We all love Number Five. I don’t think I’ve met someone who doesn’t want to high-five Number Five.

While Number Five is excited for what’s to come, living life through dreams, Six steps proudly and with a roar into the spotlight. The party animal. The Chef. The Cleaner. The Dancer. The Reader. The Writer. The Friend. The Athlete. The Animal-Handler. The Drinker. The Smoker. The Traveller. The Driver. The Golfer. The Hipster. Six is who Three wishes they were ALL THE FREAKING TIME. Six can do anything with ease and rarely lacks the drive to get shit done. After all, they push One to Five aside and just get on with it. Six is awesome. There is nothing we don’t love about Six. Five and Six are it and a bit.

But now we turn our heads partly in confusion, in wonder and in pity towards Seven. Six did not warn us of Seven at all. Why did Six, or any of them, not warn us of Seven? Seven is like a roller coaster you can’t escape from. And you’re not sure how you spent so little time with Six and ended up with Seven. At first, Seven reminds me of Five. Sleepy, quite chilled, maybe a little tuckered out. A quiet type. Broody and intellectual. Maybe slightly hung over? I’m too scared to question.

And with no warning, it’s late and SNAP! Seven is like the clash of seven seas- nervous, anxious, angry, playing a victim, being the bully, reflective and is totally not a fan of Number One. We need to be warned that One makes Seven really agitated. You don’t want to mess with that anger. It’s terrifying. Seven can be really horrid and make you feel sad. There are tiny glimmers of hope that one day, Seven will get along with One. But its short-lived.

Then, with no warning, Seven is out of the light and we are drawn back to One. Humble One. The One who tries to save us from the perils of Three and the darkness of Seven.

Long live the seven days of the week. We can never escape them.

 

 

An Open Letter to Two Small Beings

It won’t be years or decades, if ever, that you will have some perspective about me. You may not ever understand why I am the way I am. And I accept that completely. I cannot ever be someone I’m not. And in writing this letter, my babes, I am being the most honest and open I’ve ever been. And I want you both to know that I tried, I am trying, and I will always try. For you both, first.

There are days and moments you both won’t remember because you are both now so small, especially one of you. I’m thankful the hardest years of my life have matched the first years of yours. Weird statement yeah? Wrong. These have been the years I’ve not been at my best so it’s perfect that both of you won’t be able to recall some of these days and moments. A blessing for me.

The days and moments I refer to are those where getting out of bed is psychological torture. The day is not something I want to face. My mind will be fuzzy. I won’t have a plan. I can’t possibly make a plan. I feel mentally drained before I even have to do anything. Sleeping only makes this worse during the day, because I know it’s not going to fix my mind.

I have been overweight since I fell pregnant with you, the eldest. Please don’t think I love being this way, but please don’t think I hate myself either. I don’t. But in the days leading to writing this letter to you both, I know I was getting close to hating myself. I don’t want that for me, or for you both.

My weight is an issue to me physically. It does not depress me. I still buy clothes I feel comfortable in. I can go for enjoyable long walks with you both and our dogs. I do not feel restricted in any way. The issue is I know that if I don’t start making weight loss my number one priority, I will not experience you both understanding this letter in decades to come because I’ll be dead. Simple.

The second issue my heavy weight raises is the example, a poor one, that I am consequently setting to you both. You have both made comments, like “Mum, why are you so fat?” and “Mum, why do you look like you are having a baby?” and it doesn’t hurt me emotionally. I laugh along with you. I don’t take it personally. But maybe it’s time to work on this weight issue so I am the example I know I can be to you both. And I will still be here, hopefully, in decades to come.

My weight ties to my psychological issues. The first psychological concern I remember involved obsessions (I used to run for hours at a time in 40 degree heat). It was insane. It took one comment from my Dad to change the course of my psychological wellbeing for years to follow. The comment was “You run like a spastic”. It was a throw away, typical nasty Dad line. A throw away line. But it was the first time I was compared to my younger sister and it hurt. We were not the same, are not the same, and never ever will be. I took an exception to this comment, because not only was Dad not recognising I was an individual, he was putting me down by comparison. I was 13.

My quirky self-regulating behaviours from that point until I was around 19 years old were not outwardly recognised by anyone I knew, who knew me, and could see that I was being destructive. As I mentioned, I started exercising in insane weather, for insane periods of time, with no food in my stomach and not enough sugar in my blood. I noticed that I could sustain myself for longer by dropping more meals every week. I’d go the whole day at school without eating. I’d sit in assembly in the gym and pray my stomach wouldn’t grumble. It always did. And people started to comment. But only on the grumbles, not on the weight that started to melt off me.

When the weight wasn’t coming off quick enough, I tried to make myself sick. It started as a couple of times a week. At its worst, it was twice a day. And I incorporated it into my runs around the neighbourhood so I didn’t have to be sick more than once at home. I hoped no one was noticing, but wanted someone to notice at the same time. I really needed someone to tell me to stop. Because I couldn’t stop.

Through this time, I was so malnourished the skin started peeling off my body and my hair was falling out in clumps. I saw this as something else I had to hide, so I carried moisturiser for my hands everywhere I went, dyed my hair black, and cut my hair short. Phew. No one noticed. But my Year 10 school portrait shows how bad I really was travelling.

After struggling through two and half years of this, I found out one of my close friends was facing her own battle with her weight. The teachers were very supportive of her and her needs. It was great and I’m so glad she got the help she needed when she did. I never knew she was sick, as sick as me. When I found out, I tried to stop my own unhealthy behaviours and support her, but I couldn’t. And I still couldn’t tell anyone that I was fighting demons too. I stopped acknowledging the “Wow, you look great” comments too. I stopped wearing figure-hugging clothing. And I resolved to go full tom-boy. It helped to hide changes in my body.

Through this time, I didn’t hate myself. I still felt like me. I wasn’t trying to be someone else. So with that said, I don’t know why I pushed myself for so many years. It got me nowhere.

If we fast forward to the year before my Dad died, we’d see that I was putting weight back on. I felt healthy and I wasn’t eating badly. I was enjoying food. Possibly because I knew it was a luxury. But the weight kept piling on and the exercise stopped almost completely.

Fast forward again, and I’m sitting here on the couch, tired just from a day at home of cleaning one room, and overweight to the point where I don’t buy new clothes because I’m waiting for the day that I can buy “that one size down”.

Putting weight aside now. I’m done with that part of this letter. As important as it is to my physical health and mortality, my shape is no reason for who I am or how I feel about myself, my family or my life.

My next psychological issue after obsession, became anxiety. Panic and excessive worry to the detriment of my wellbeing. I know that this arose when I was cheated on by my first long-term partner, during the same period in which he promised to support me through the terminal illness and tragic death of my Dad. And at the same time he started becoming physically violent.

I felt myself becoming more and more alone. I lost trust in everyone. I became quiet. I felt cheated and ripped off. As I spent more time with my family, who deserved my whole attention and presence, my partner took it upon himself to move on and away from me. This tore me up inside, but left me relieved. It was at a point in my life where everything was breaking down as much as I tried to keep everything going.

After Dad passed, I panicked about more and more in my every day life. I worried more that Mum would also die before her time. I worried I’d be alone and never find someone who would love me as I was. I worried I’d not fall in love with a career that took over every part of me. The panic and tears that followed would become the most difficult issue in my life.

Then I met your Dad. We spent time getting to know each other and spending nights out with each other. I started to let my hair down. We got engaged, we moved in together. We bought our dogs. Then I fell pregnant with you, my eldest.

I loved my first pregnancy but my panic was still there and morphed into something that when it struck, I had to give in to. And that meant giving up everything I was doing at the time and not being able to listen to anyone around me. It was strangling me.

The panic came from being exhausted and from having hyperemesis. I developed Panic Disorder with emetophobia. It literally was gut-wrenching. And when you were born, my eldest, the relief didn’t come. It shifted into something more sinister.

My fear of death, after having to face it so much, and overwhelming panic at the thought of losing my baby gripped every part of me. It became so difficult to live with. So difficult that one day, I just lost it. I was too scared to leave the house. With this fear came never-ending vomiting and nausea at the thought of not getting enough sleep or getting sick with a stomach bug that could lead to vomiting. Your Nan had to tear me away from the house and drove me, with my head stuck in a bucket filled with vomit.

I ended up sedated by the GP and with the help of a psychiatrist, my problems were laid bare for my loved ones to see. They became the biggest part of me and something I’ve never been afraid to talk about. My panic attacks and anxiety would floor the strongest of men. Yet today, I can get through them and even in the middle of one, where my heart rate is elite-athlete in the middle of a 100m sprint, the nausea has built up passed my rib cage and I feel like I could die, I still have a little voice that seems to play out in my head, saying “It’s okay Lauren, you’ve done this before and you know it doesn’t last”. It’s my voice and I learned to talk myself through.

With you, my youngest, your birth raised me higher. I was happy, in love and surrounded by those who loved me. I thought the cloud I covered myself in, made of panic and worry, had dissipated. But then, only weeks into your life, we lost my Mum and I thought the world would engulf me again. You know what though? I didn’t get lost. And even in the depths of the worst grief I had felt for my Mum, I was strong and determined to get going again. And I did. And even today, when I think of how I coped in those black days, I don’t even know how I coaxed myself through. Maybe it was that little voice again? For the first time in my life, I went from being okay with myself and who I was, to PROUD. Damn proud. I think I did my parents proud by just moving forward step by step.

There is no shame in not being a hero in your own story. Who ever said it had to be done, without exception? My story has had many ups and downs, as you have come to see. And you both will too in your lives. But fact that I’m here right now, writing to my two little loves about why I want you to know where I’ve been and who I feel I am and who I want to be, is enough for me.

I hope it is enough for you both, to know that life can be very hard, but all our “hards” are different and we shouldn’t be scared of how we feel. We face each challenge differently and we shouldn’t ever listen to people who want to compare us to themselves or others. We need to listen to our inner voice and those who encourage us to be who we really are. Just be who you are, it is sometimes that hardest thing to do, but it is the best thing you’ll ever do.

You both now know a bit about my mental health and how it has shaped the person I have become. Nothing that I have been through is an excuse for me to act out, to be rude to anyone or to ask for pity. I am not a victim. The things I faced early in life are building blocks which I have either used to make myself stronger, or to stand on to see new things in myself and life that I couldn’t see before.

I do not feel like the most competent Mum, who has surprises and treats planned for every day. Some days we don’t leave the house, but fill it with love instead. While other kids are out at the movies, or camping far away on an adventure, we are home, but we are together and not once have either of you complained. And not once have you both not cuddled me at the end of a day, no matter how busy we had been together that day. I know with every ounce of me that even in my more difficult moments, I think of you both first. I take a breath and think of you both. Even if today is not my day, it’s never a bad day. Because my days start and end with you both.

I cannot promise that we will be rich. I cannot promise when our next family adventure might be. I don’t know where we will be in five years, or even next week, because I can’t afford to think that far ahead right now. But I am promising that with every day from today, I will do more to make you both happier and healthier than ever. Because even though I can’t always take care of myself, I know I am damn good at loving you both.

I couldn’t live without you both. Together, we are everything.

Mum

 

 

 

 

 

Day 11- 30 Days of Brave Challenge: May 5th, 2017

Day 11 of 30 Days of Brave

I AM COMPASSIONATE

TODAY’S BRAVE ACT

Think of a situation in your life that is difficult, that is causing you stress. Bring the situation to mind, and see if you can actually feel the stress and emotional discomfort in your body.

Now, say to yourself:

“This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is a part of life. I will treat this suffering with compassion and kindness.”

“Compassion is the courage to descend into the reality of human experience.”

 – PAUL GILBER

COMPASSION: a sympathetic response to suffering.

Compassion melts fear. Every fear I experience is a part of me that has grown out of the experiences I’ve had. By acknowledging these fears, and listening to them, I can begin to understand why they’re there … most often they’re just trying to keep me safe, and usually, I can just let them know that I’m already safe. I can let the insistent voice of fear fade away because I am compassionate.

JOURNAL PROMPT

Write a note to yourself from the perspective of an unconditionally loving imaginary friend.

TMM
XX

 

Adventure into Psychological Research: Creation of a Research Journal

Today is a very special day in my academic life, the day I get started on my postgraduate research project. I am studying the Graduate Diploma of Psychology (Advanced) via Monash University in Melbourne. 

While I haven’t narrowed down my topic, I have become more mindful about my real interests in the area of psychology I have chosen to focus on.

So before I bore you any further, I’ll show you how I am putting together my Research Journal. It’s hard to get too creative in psychology, so I thought making a journal of the work I am putting together would act as a source of communication, will help me feel organised and will be there to help me relax throughout this new adventure I’m heading off on.

Don’t forget. I am new to research. You may be a super experienced researcher, so the content of my journal might be super basic for you. That’s not my intention however. This journal will be a key tool for me.

As you can see, I have started with a running to do check list. Every time I think of a task I need to complete, even those as small as checking for an email from my research supervisor, the task will be written here.

Next up, I’ve started brainstorming key constructs and areas I am interested in. I have made myself a deadline (which will all be added to my “Phase” pages) in that I need to have honed in on a topic by this Monday 9am and have decided what type of research design I want to implement. With this, I will be spending the weekend creating a Research Proposal to informally submit to my Research Supervisor. I think this will be an invaluable start to a long narrative of feedback.

I will post my Research Proposal template here at This Melbourne Mum over the weekend (once I’ve celebrated my birthday with academia clearly not on my mind!)

The next spread I posted above are the Phase spreads. My research unit is split into 3 phases over 6 weeks so I have planned to keep track of phase-specific tasks on these spreads. The sticky “to do” lined notes are from Officeworks, for all my fellow stationery geeks out there.

The last two spreads involve a variety of research tips I’ve started to brainstorm. I love a good brainstorm! Or a brain dump, sounds so much more appropriate! I’ll make more of these brainstorm pages I’m sure, once my supervisor starts to provide advice about the direction of my work.

I’ve also made a calendar page to keep track of May and June (which will fly by, considering the amount of work I have to get through), a “Meeting Dates” page to track dates and notes from my supervisor and peer group meetings about our projects and an assessment tracker to allow me to watch my pace throughout the next 6 weeks. 

And there you have it. Jumping in at the deep end!

If you have any thesis or psychology related pages you’d like me to follow, I’m all eyes and ears, so comment below, find me on Instagram here or drop me a line via This Melbourne Mum’s Mail: thismelbournemum@outlook.com

Can’t wait for the days ahead!

TMM

💋 

Day 10- 30 Days of Brave: May 4th, 2017

Day 10 of 30 Days of Brave

I AM CURIOUS

TODAY’S BRAVE ACT

Ask three consecutive ‘whys’ to someone today.

By asking WHY three times we go beyond the surface-level habitual responses and get to the real root of a question or problem.

CURIOUS: eager to know or learn something.

POSITIVE AFFIRMATION:

Courage needs curiosity. And curiosity takes courage. When faced with fear, my curiosity asks, ‘Why am I scared of this?’. Responding to fear with investigation develops an awareness that favors courageous action. Each time I let go of the need to be right and stay in that vulnerable place of uncertainty, I am embracing the kind of curiosity that enables positive change to occur.

You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

ANDRE GIDE

JOURNAL PROMPT

A recent fear that I would like to overcome …

My recent fear is based on time. The feeling like time passes too quickly.

Why does this fear make me feel scared and uncomfortable?

This fear has previously made me feel incredibly uncomfortable and has stopped me from doing a lot in my life.

Why does matter to me that I overcome this fear?

I am overcoming this fear because I want to make the most of my life, for each moment I am healthy enough to live it fully.

Why have I been previously been unable to overcome this fear?

I had previously been unable to overcome this fear because of the loss I have faced in my life. Certainly puts a dampener on your outlook about growing older. I thought that the less I faced my fear and denied it, the less of a problem it would be. So wrong.

 

You can join Intention Inspired’s 30 Days of Brave Challenge

What will challenge and inspire you?

TMM
XX

Am I There Yet?

At what point can I label myself “middle aged”?

I’m five years off forty. Tomorrow. At 736PM.

Am I there yet?

Why does reading “middle aged” make me feel so blah?

What’s wrong with reaching another milestone in my life?

Birthdays pass and the only thing that changes is the tick-box category you check off.

I think I move up a tick-box notch tomorrow.

What’s wrong with getting older?

Why are people so afraid?

In my mind, I’m still 18.

I don’t feel like giving my kids a middle-aged Mum.

I’m giving my kids a reliable, responsible, fun-loving, hug-giving friend.

Middle-aged Mum is not for me. No thanks.

I’ll just stick with “Mum” for now.

 

 

Day 9- 30 Days of Brave Challenge: May 3rd, 2017

Day 9 of 30 Days of Brave

I AM VULNERABLE

TODAY’S BRAVE ACT

What have I struggled with most during this 30-day challenge?

Trying not to focus too far ahead and staying present. I have always found that hard.

Today, be courageously vulnerable by openly sharing this weakness with a friend.

VULNERABLE: capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt.

 

POSITIVE AFFIRMATION:

My insecurities are at the core of what I fear and my sense of unworthiness, yet these vulnerabilities are also the birthplace of my joy, creativity, and love. So I will compassionately embrace my imperfections because feeling so fiercely vulnerable means I am alive. I will let myself be deeply seen and share myself wholeheartedly even though there are no guarantees that things will work out.

To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.

CRISS JAMI

JOURNAL PROMPT

In what area of my life are you afraid of being rejected?

In my career. I am putting all my heart and soul into building a new career for myself, yet my grades are not reflecting my effort. I am concerned that with the state of psychology in Australia as the way it is, I am not going to make it.

How have I been limiting myself by avoiding the fear of being rejected?

I haven’t been doing this. I am still going ahead.

TODAY’S JOURNAL PROMPTS

A weakness that I’m struggling with … is that I am still not single-tasking. I am trying to do too much at once. My head is muddled at times. Sometimes I am losing my focus. This weakness shows in my academic writing and in the way I run my household.

Today, I will be courageously vulnerable by sharing my weakness with the following person … not just one person, with everyone following This Melbourne Mum!

“The only way to get our true power back is to be vulnerable.”

You can join Intention Inspired’s 30 Days of Brave now

TMM
XX