Chill out Man.......

A couple of my dear correspondents and I have been discussing the issue of "unloading". Where you either undertake an activity that provides a release, or take it all the way and "talk to someone", such as a counsellor or psychologist.

I will be honest with you: I have had contact with counsellors in the past; some very good. And I got the message that unloading all your problems on your nearest and dearest, including siblings or friends that you see very regularly, is not a good idea. Because next time they see you (or the person/people you were whinging and bitching about) they will view you a little differently. Maybe even as a little bit of a victim, which I simply cannot stand the thought of! achgh!

The other problem I can see with "unloading" is: who is going to carry it all around if you don't?
I don't mean to stretch the metaphor but seriously, if you get it all out there in the open, it doesn't mean that anything is going to change. There simply isn't the infrastructure to take over what is worrying you, and it will always come back to being up to you. If there is anything I learned in the first years of having my kids diagnosed, is that there is NO guardian angel watching over you, ready to swoop down and take over while you zone out and have some nice duvet days. Maybe even a short term depression.
Nope, you quickly learn; If it is to be, It is up to me, so GET on with it.

And what if having released it all, you can't fit it all back in?
Like when you are coming back from holiday with an overfilled suitcase, terrified that customs will stop you. Not because you have any contraband, but because you will not be able to squeeze back in, all those undies and shoes and weird toys that they sell on a blanket in the town square that HAD to come home with you.

So I have to say, I have a real fear of unloading. Not least because I live in a country where the Health Authority puts up bus posters saying "Look after your mental health", at the same time as only offering any kind of social work or crisis support between 9am and 5pm weekdays.
So if you have a depressive illness and the only solution is to kill your wife, kids and self on a weekend; don't expect anyone to be available to talk you out of it.

"Look after your mental health, 'cause We won't the feck be doing it outside of office hours"

Best to keep it all bottled up then so.

My technique for unloading is, as you have probably guessed: this blog.

I can reason things out with the power of words and sentences, without ever having to face into the abyss. Or as I often say to Sister Wolf; risk re-creating that scene from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" where the Nazis open the ark and all those crazy ghosts come flying out.

So my question for all of you is: What do you do?

Do you talk things through? do you do kick boxing/karate/ or play rugby league?,
or: do you just bury it all down until you get an eating disorder/drink problem?

I used to have a fairly stressful job as a wine rep' and after a week of listening to wankers go on about semillion, I would go to the football.
I would sledge the opposition fan club (YOU FAT BASTARD, YOU FAT BASTARD!)
I would bang my cuban heels against the advertising hoardings and shout "Did you see that Umpire? Where's ya white stick?" and shout myself hoarse.
Then go and have a rum and coke and a pie.
I kept going right up until I was 7 months pregnant with Boo and other supporters started getting worried I was going to go into labour as Sydney faced yet another 1 point cliffhanger.

It was a release. It was a distraction. It felt good to be part of a mob. Not an individual with individual concerns and worries.

I don't care enough about any Irish sport to relive that feeling. I could go for rugby union if they didn't keep on squeezing each other's arses and running backwards to go forwards. And if they wore tighter shorts, had better muscle definition, tighter tops. You get the idea.
As for Gaelic games. You know that episode of The Simpsons where Lisa needs braces and the Dentist shows her "The Big Book of British Teeth"?
Well these guys start out that way, and get worse.

Maybe I do need to find a regular outlet. Maybe instead of doing Pilate's next Thursday, I should be doing Karate, or Kick boxing. Maybe I should start a fight club. Send all those disaproving old binnies over my way.

But the real world will still be there when I get home. My guardian angel seems to be on some kind of sabbatical. If they ever get back I will have a lovely cosy breakdown. Spend a lot of time in bed eating Kinder Bueno and watching The Long Way Down.

But for now, I just gotta get on with it.



Nick McGivney said…
Yeah. Blog is good. So is run. So is reading Bock the Robber.
K.Line said…
I know you say you don't have a guardian angel - and I'm not here to argue - but you seem to be one fucking strong, articulate person. I am certain that your children have a guardian angel in you. Honestly, some higher power was standing over those tiny, dependent zygotes and thought - I have to give these kids some kick ass communicator to raise them up. They need a voice. Who can hack it?

Small comfort, I realize when you are crawling up the walls with the thoroughly visceral need to be liberated from the oppressive - well, just from the oppressiveness.

I don't know what to say to you, Hammie. Saying I'm in awe of you isn't exactly going to fix the challenge. (Though it happens to be true.) Exhaustion is a torture. I know this and I haven't been through 1/100th of the strenuous parenting you have. It makes you crazy. It refracts the oppression in just the worst way.

The problem with being so strong is that everyone else can move to the side that much more easily. I know nothing of your family support structures and friendships (so please take all of this for what it's worth) but I do hope that you can put your weary monster brain on the task of figuring out how to get what you need without "unloading" overly. And by overly, I mean in a way that calls your attention to a vulnerability you are so admirably trying to repress.

You have created a brilliant network for your family which could have easily fractured under the pressure. In the spirit of your resourcefulness, I know you can realize a mini escape hatch (to a tiny mental courtyard) in which you will catch your breath and commune with the beings who watch over you. I have faith, even if - right now- you happen to be sitting on the fence. Kxo
Sister Wolf said…
I don't thnk 'unloading' is necessarily bad, but I do think it's important to at least make a little vent for steam, to prevent yourself from exploding.

People with close friends live longer. I think it's because they confide in each other and support each other. I think this has a direct effect on your brain and nervous system. Humans are a pack animal. We need each other.

Endless bitching about one's situation isn't helpful, but a bitchathon between friends can be a great restorative!

When I tell my friends, "I'm here for you," I really mean it. It means, I'm ready and willing to support you, and I'm strong enough to let you lean on me.

But I get that strength from knowing I can lean on others, and that they'll still love me afterward.

I have used shopping as a way to distract myself, but really the best relief is laughing. I'm betting your sense of humor has kept you afloat more than anything else, Hammie. And I effing love it.

When all else fails, I go and torture someone on the internet! I recommend this to anyone (like me)who is too clumsy for tae kwon do.
Skye said…
If I don't run every day I kind of implode. It definitely works better than unloading though. The unloading thing through counselling thing can definitely work, but you've got to see it through and that is so expensive (and not a little confronting), let alone where the services provided are so poor.

The little dude received his ceremonial first Sherrin (it's a 1/3 size one or something ridiculous) a few weeks ago. An important rite of passage!
Nan P. said…
Hammie, are you talking about “Aussie Footie”? Then I might understand what you mean: I visited a friend of mine in Melbourne 4 odd years ago, and happened to watch her team (St Kilda) on TV playing in some semi final… Right in from of me, this person I thought I knew transformed into an absolute fanatical lunatic yet entertaining nutcase! It was incredible. And I did envy her power of transformation at the time. I know why now! I would also agree that anyone could get passionate about such matches, they are SO tense!

About off-loading: it is not always easy. I agree with you, it is often best to rule out your closest and dearest, and to confide into someone you trust, yet who has no close emotional ties to you. I am lucky enough to have a few of those special friends, and they have over time proved to be a life-line. That’s for the “heavy” stuff. For the lighter day-to-day stuff, I often allow myself a little “blow-up” – But I always start by saying: “I need to give out about something, just to get rid of it. So please bear with me on this one, and then I’ll leave you alone…” If I did not do this (and sometime I can’t do it for what ever reason, wrong person around, inappropriate time or situation, whatever), I know I can slump very quickly, and THAT is a road I do not want to travel again!

And yes, the Mental Health infrastructure sucks! Welcome to Ireland!

But, at the end of the day, as a previous comment says, you have the power of LAUGH, and that, Hammie, is the best form of off-loading.
Lisamaree said…
Enc: Thankyou for your empathy and I think your idea is excellent. I used to do it years ago. If you change your mind let me know and I will hit Publish.
NIck:What the fuh is Bock the Robber?
K-line: I truly am not as good as you think. But you are so kind for saying so. I used to try to think that I was destined for this: and I joke that I would have been the worlds most vicious stage Mom if my kids had a different talent. But you know; ya just gotta take it as it is.
BTW: I am totally phobic about homeless people who are obviously mentally ill. Lived in London in the late 80s when "care in the community" was all the rage. I was 18, from a country town and worked near Euston Station; it scared the bejesus out of me.
Nowadays I try to have compassion, but it still freaks me out. Maybe it is "there but for the Grace of God go I"??
Sis: YOU understand me, and you won't judge The Boo, Bratty or Mr H, the next time you see them. But my terrestial friends would. xx
Skye: As an aussie you can see my bind; I follow the Homer Simpson policy of analyis -
"Marg: Maybe I have a problem, maybe I should talk to someone about it?
Homer: No, that's too expensive, just don't do it anymore"
(Marg and the Casino)
I am so proud of little dude and his first Sherrin. Thank goodness you have innoculated him from LEAGUE!
Nan P; you get me. I do a little bit of yelling once a month, then feel terrible about it. Seriously counter productive. Unless it is a social worker; then I go to TOWN!
(Bratty's temper didnt come out of nowhere)
Seeker said…
I am also certain that your children have a guardian angel in you.
But don't think you are alone, believe it or not but you've not one, but two guardian angels.
But you must talk with them and ask for their help as you talk to your husband or someone else.

Also sister wolf got a point, friends (that we trust) confide in each other and support each other. So it's great to have friends that one can talk and opens ones heart and that one knows that they are supportive.

I had my eating disorders, I had my depressions, now I have Hubby to whom I say everything that goes on my mind and heart and we support each other.

I have my life philosophy and I also tend to laugh as much as I can, even when I'm crying sometimes I laugh.

Blogging is as well a way of me to express myself and gain confidence.

All I can tell you is: remember the poem Footprints In The Sand...

And count with me as friend with whom you can "unload" and get support(even just with words).

Lots of love

PS- I think I'm going to wear my lace dress with everything LOL
Anonymous said…
Now there's some real, hard-earned wisdom: "There simply isn't the infrastructure to take over what is worrying you, and it will always come back to being up to you." It hurts, but it's so true.

And it can be empowering to realize that you're the master of your own fate. That you DO have choices. But I know the feeling of wishing till it aches for a guardian angel. Because sometimes it would feel better to have someone else in charge, and preferably someone who wants you to be happy and calm and stable.

Biking helps me loads. It's nice, quiet, meditative time but paired with strenuous exercise. And I do talk a lot to my girlfriends, but am careful to bring up only specific concerns that I feel I need guidance on, or reinforcement about. And writing is huge, though most of my deeper personal stuff goes into songs, not blog posts.

Hammie, do you sing? Maybe a karaoke machine or a local choir could help. Singing can be a huge purge, if you really enjoy doing it.

Another thought: Do you know the story of King Solomon's ring? It's literally the only Torah tale that this half-Jew knows by heart, and only because it has brought me solace so many times.

As a bit of a lark, King Solomon charged one of his ministers to seek out a special ring that, when worn, made a sad man happy and a happy man sad. Solomon didn't think such a thing truly existed. But his minister brought it back to him, six months later. It was a plain gold ring inscribed with the words, "This too shall pass."

Kinda sucks for the happy, but helps me a lot for the sad.

Love to you, Hammie. Love helps, too, I find.
Fashion Hayley said…
Hey Hammie. You commented on my blog about my frames. they are not Jonathon Sceats, I bought them at an optometrists in Chinatown here in Melbourne. They have all kinds of unusual frames there for not much money (Mine cost $60 plus $60 for the prescription) The guy said no one had tried these on in 10 years, they were really dusty. The label on them says Identity by Faberge :> I'm not going to google the Jonathon Sceats frames to take a look :>
Robo said…
Hi, Hammie! Thanks for visiting my blog. To answer the question you posed in the posting, I unload to some of my trusted friends, but give the edited version of events. Boxing and just working out generally also helps drain the negative energy, along with good, moody music. In the end, yeah, you are on your own, but it helps if you've got friend or family that are acting guardian angels.

To answer your question about mehndi, yeah you'd need to set aside at least half a day for bridal level mehndi. You don't have to wear red or Indian wedding clothes. Red is a traditional wedding colour for brides in South Asia, but in the past few years, ladies have been branching out with other colours. I've seen brides with Western gowns have mehndi done as well. However, these women are usually South Asian themselves and marrying non-South Asian guys, but that's not a requirement. If you want it for your wedding, go for it :) I'd suggest getting a gown with some sort of contrasting lace or embroidery details so that it connects to the mehndi (hope that makes sense!). The "aunties" don't do it for free, btw; I was the one who would :)
Anonymous said…
Venting is a great thing - I think its very important, do you keep a journal? Even venting to yourself is helpful. Sometimes its hard to actually identify the problem, if you can clarify the issue into a sentence or two then its easier to work out ways to help yourself. Things like the entire crappy Irish welfare system are hard to change (but I bet you try) so can you aid yourself in smaller ways? This is a big question, but are you actually living in the right country for a family with special needs?
Also passion, your footy was a passion, and now perhaps its all been devoted into your children. You need an outside passion again, painting, rollerskating, politics just something that gets you inspired and "outside" your situation. Hammie, you are a great person with a difficult job, don't forget to congratulate yourself too.
Skye said…
PS. I am duty bound to tell you that I have tagged you with one of those blogging award tag thingys over on my blog...
Lisamaree said…
Seeker: thankyou again for your support and encouragement. I'm not sure a guardian angel should use as many curse words as I do; or be so bitchy. But if they are, then I am happy to join them! With friends like you and Sis' life has got a lot better. You know.
Sal: you are so kind, but I get paid NOT to sing. Seriously, the kids put their hands on their ears and say "no song". But your voice chills me out. Bratty and I listen to those songs you have on the Myspace excerpt. Very mellow.
Hayley: thanks for dropping in. You have to google Jonathon Sceats? Now I feel really old!! People with perfect vision used to get a prescription just to wear them in Highschool. Of course Faberge are even cooler. (just below Skye and her Le-Specs)Will check out Chinatown Melb. in January.
Robo: I often consider boxing and kick boxing. This time I have signed up for pilates. Will get back to you if I punch the ball.
And I am 20 years married next month. But I might get a little mehndi for my birthday. My best friend R can do it. It was just the idea of doing nothing for at least half of your wedding day that appealed. I ran around like a blue arsed fly on my big day.
Cybil: you echoed another poster who was a bit shy. I used to have a journal years ago, but stopped "Too Much Information" I just couldnt make sense of what was happening to me and I had to just focus on the everyday. The blog of course is the replacement now I am a bit more settled and accepting.
As for the welfare service here. Like everything else to do with the public service, it drinks up money and pisses it away. We are in the midst of recession and they are all hanging on to hear about wage increases. But it is such a huge sector in Ireland that they have ridiculous political influence.
I put my faith in the Citizen Sector. My campaign, such as it is, is to convince our current leaders to allocate state funding to citizen lead groups to deal with Suicide prevention, Home support for disabled and elderly people, respite and education for special needs. The citizen sector grows and develops according to need; and is always focused on the end user. The state sector is unfortunately "this is what we do; fit in with us" and very wasteful as a result. They also work harder at excluding and disqualifying than they do at assessing need and responding to it. It is truly vomitable.
And the private sector will invest in citizen lead models as they see better use of their tax deductible contributions. It is a win win.
(I read a book called "how to change the world" about the Ashoka Foundation, that promotes this idea)
We just gotta convince the guys with the pocket money.
Thankyou all for your imput. Such a rich little blogosphere we live in.
Casdok said…
I have a brillient best friend who listens. And i do the same for her. For us it works well.
Candice DeVille said…
Fight club has always been my solution. There is nothing quite like kicking the crap out of other consenting adults for making you smile. ahhhh
Sesame said…
I have a dream, a song to sing
To help me cope with anything
If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
You can take the future even if you fail
I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in angels
When I know the time is right for me
I'll cross the stream - I have a dream

I have a dream, a fantasy
To help me through reality
And my destination makes it worth the while
Pushing through the darkness still another mile
I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in angels
When I know the time is right for me
I'll cross the stream - I have a dream

Singing, swimming, blogging are my releases..and am not great at any of them - esp. singing. I am not a religous freak but I do believe in a higher power and that my loved ones whe have crossed over are my guardian angels..I had what I thought was a near death experience some yrs ago..was really just raving mad fever..details of which I won't go into but I believe I am being looked after.

My very close and supportive family are at the other end of my off loading..just to get things off my chest..hearing it out loud is therapeutic..even if it doesn't solve the problem, it makes things a bit clearer in my mind. Hope I'm making sense..heads a bit fuzzy today.
jazzygal said…

You have just touched on something that I've thought a lot about.
Venting your worries. Lets face it, there's a lot involved with our special kids. It's not possible to keep it in all the time.

In the early days I told EVERYONE in the hope someone somewhere would have an answer or even point me in the right direction. the people I worked with at the time were getting sick of me! But I just couldn't help it. I was so worried. I don't really regret it, even though I probably should, cos I couldn't help it.

Then when we knew what we were dealing with I still talked about it. But I had to leave work to deal with Snug's needs so I was talking to family and friends. They listened, though I'm sure they were getting sick of me too!

These days I don't feel the need to CONSTANTLY talk about Snuggles needs...though others may disagree with that!!

I've noticed that one particular friend doesn't like me talking about it. No comment or replies to texts if I refer to it in anyway. He actually went as far to say 1 day.." Now, enough about M..."

Now, I think that's very harsh. He goes to work every day and so has other interests to discuss. Snugs IS my work. What the hell else am I supposed to talk about??!! I do the shows with him so I can talk about that. But you know people have to realise that what we're dealing with at home has an impact on how we relate/work with others. For example I can't meet you/go to work/go to rehearsals etc, etc cos my child having a very Autistic day or whatever.

I have a child with Special Needs, it affects everything I do so GET OVER IT!! Sod them all I say!!

I went through the phase of telling myself I shouldn't burden others. I now keep it under control. But...I've come to the conclusion that my REAL friends will listen, I just try not to go on too much about it. You know who your real friends are.

And then there's blogspere. I'm SO enjoying that! Very therapeutic.

As regards other interests. ABSOLUTELY essential I believe. That's why I do the shows even though it kills me at times. It's important to keep a sense of self . Me time. Though sometimes I wish that reading a book or knitting would do it for me!!!

So do WHATEVER it is that does it for you. And enjoy. It's hard to fit it in....really hard at times....but worth it I think!


bronwyn said…
Hi Hammie, Hope you are well under the circumstances, you seem to be very brave and strong but I know it's not easy to always have to be strong. I do find that sometimes talking to those people who are close to me helps, but what really makes me feel better is when I make the effort to exercise, especially taking my dog for a walk in the park helps me to stay in a better frame of mind....oh and when I'm stressed, blaring Metallica in my car does wonders:)
smop said…
This is such a good blog and at the same time a realy bad one for me at the moment. I'm at that stage where i still feel quite lost in the world of autism(not that i'd admit that to anyone). I'd say 90% of the time I'm so positive about my son's future and then there's now, that 10% of dark time where i can't think of even one positive thing to say about what i've been through in the last year and a bit. I think it's confirmed to me that we are alone and as someone else said if you want it done, do it yourself. 'People' are not interested in how you are even if they ask! Its amazing, some of the friends I thought I could rely on have let me down, even my husband(but we are in councelling now). To end on a positive note, thank you hammie for always making me laugh, and here's to tomorrow, a better day!
Lisamaree said…
Smop, I hope you check back here cause I am going to give you some advice. There are days when I don't want to read my blog either, and I don't click on any of my links to Autism blogs everyday. What I do click on is the fashion and thinking blogs. I want to know what Imelda is bitching about on Well Shod, what wonderful reason to feel beautiful that Sal has come up with on Already Pretty, and what Skye has pulled out of her dress up box to wear in Bondi today. When the real world is getting too much, you don't need more of it on the page or computer, you need to escape.
As for the 90/10% rule? Try reading "One Bite of The cookie" a peice I wrote a good few months ago

It is about developing tunnel vision, but not looking too far ahead so you can cope with what you are up to at the moment, without going into the blackhole.

There are a few older posts which may help, scroll down on the left hand side and click on a few. (oops, gotta update that)
But be sure to scroll back up to my blog roll and read them for longer. My blogsister's "Godammit I'm mad" will sort you out everytime.