I’ve been writing a lot lately driven by an undeniable urge to finish my second manuscript. Writing a memoir is personal, mental health one even more so. A choice exists what to divulge and what to withhold. It’s weird, say too much and be vulnerable, say too little and appear bland.
For me it was anorexia.
We form attachments to our writing projects. Born through us, the umbilical cord twangs. But we have to let them go. We have to trust and accept help. Last time, I didn’t ask for help: a big mistake. So I’m sharing some simple lessons learned with anyone who is finishing a manuscript.
Anorexia looks extreme: the weight loss, restriction and rituals. But it doesn’t begin that way. It creeps up on you and hoodwinks you into allegiance to a dangerous ally. That’s my experience anyway. How are we influenced? And why?
This poem looks at two vastly different experiences. I’ve lived the experience through my cultural lens and watch my daughters struggle with their perceptions of their bodies. During my travels, I’ve come across women with far less wealth but a powerful sense of self.
Sometimes life cracks you open and sometimes it doesn’t. Facing one’s mental health issues does. It does. Rising above the monsters that lurk behind the 2D cut out self, takes self-compassion and patience. Some would say we have to fight and slay the beast. But is it so?
I had to befriend mine. An acrostic poem …
Last week was like standing by the Southern Ocean in a gale. I ran into the wind, trying to keep up with the ‘should’s’ in my life. Monday morphed into Friday and then the weekend came. I’d tried to write but the kept deleting the fragments on the page. Poetic words floated past evading my intentions to capture them.
Stress does that, a cement beanie on the soaring mind.
But I had something to look forward to the first Sunbury Literary Festival and my closest friend had bought tickets. We went.
Rupertswood Mansion: photo Lindy Schneider
vigil definition: an act of staying awake, especially at night, in order to be with a person who is very ill or dying, or to make a protest, or to pray Cambridge Dictionary
18/06/2018, 5.30 -7.30 p.m. Reclaim Princess Park, that’s what came up in my Facebook feed. Introduction to Oncology for Physiotherapists and Exercise Professionals, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre 18/06/2018, 8.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. My PD landed me right in the neighbourhood.
I wanted to pay my respects to Eurydice Dixon.
Siphoned along by the ever-increasing throng of people who knew where to go, I found my way to Princess Park. The grass underfoot yielded and cold seeped through the soles of my boots. Melbourne winter, just shy of the solstice, freezing of course. Silently a crowd gathered.
It was amazing as you can see from Kate Carey Peters’ footage.
Everyday I discover something new. That’s how I choose to live my life. Tackling my struggle to stay on top of the inner critic, I’ve had to embrace honesty and self-awareness. My body talks to me. Yours does too.
But do you hear it?
Sitting in the car, country drive, Spotify time capsule, John Denver’s ‘Sunshine,’ plays. Music does that rockets you back to the past and I’m 15 sitting in my parent’s unit. It wasn’t just the music, I’d been doing some serious edits.
Edits can’t help but take me back to the cesspool of my adolescent ED (eating disorder). I guess my mind traversed two realities already, the unknown ready to sprout. A new thought had formed since my return from overseas, nagging, bugging and buzzing around my head like an elusive mosquito.
Have you ever felt your back up against the wall, repetitive and intolerable situations pressing you tighter into the corner? My life has been a series of micro-deaths, traditions, observances and people. But I keep trying to fix whatever is broken. I’m looking at the finger not what it’s pointing at.
Opportunities abound when people watching, new things to try or reruns with barbs. What happens when the alarm bells ring and although we should be excited? Why are these experiences with us? Done bashing my head against a brick wall, I sit back, retreating into the comfort of silence.
Thousands of stories, characters and plots that unfold. One lumpy afternoon ample fodder for a book or two. Weird stuff happens some of it almost unbelievable but conflict makes writing memorable. This poem came from recent seaside reflections.