A bit about this blog

Over 4 years ago my family and I left the sleepy apple isle to live in the big smoke of Melbourne This blog is my take on our continuing attempt to Love with His great love those who we come into contact with on a daily basis, especially those who are less fortunate than ourselves. It is also about my struggle with mental illness and how I am trying to live in recovery

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mirror roads, Laser Tv and other crazy stuff.

We have a next door neighbor who is an inventor, he invented the Laser TV , Mirrored Roads and the Laser Washing Machine.......never heard of these inventions well that is because they are a figment of his imagination.

S has a mental illness, schizophrenia I think, from the way he yells at the voices in his head some times. And his mantra "I am a nice person I don't hurt people you know...."

He is alone most of the time, isolated in his craziness, too paranoid to come for dinner on the couple of occasions that we have asked him. No friends ever visit him, he roams around on foot or in the car. His personal hygiene is terrible. He must be awfully lonely.

Then there is K she is a client of mine at work. She has been mentally unwell for as a long as she can remember. She has had fifteen admissions to the psyc ward in the last 8 weeks and
numerous suicide attempts including today where she lay on the road in front of a moving tram and it nearly hit her. The emergency department and the pych unit where she usually attends will no longer see her. She is homeless, addicted to drugs, skinny and desperate. Her suicide attempts are not because she is depressed but an attempt to get what she wants, a symptom of her confused mind

These are the forgotten mentally ill of our society. They are not unwell enough to access acute psyc services but need long term care so they are safe. But there are no such places, because, we, the sane, (well mostly) decided institutions are bad. Chucked the baby out with the bath water as we are want to do. I am not advocating for the bad old days when we locked them away never to be seen again but instead communities where they can be safe, housed and have access to the help they so desperately need.

Mental health is drastically under funded both at a state and federal level. Our prisons are full of mentally ill who are not being treated appropriately. Mental health workers are overloaded and there is a huge burn out rate.

My fear for both S and K is that something bad is going to happen to them. That one day the tram will hit K or S will act out the things his voices are telling him to do. A colleague of mine says she feels sick every time she thinks of K-that her time is short. K thinks she is "beyond help" and quite frankly the way the system works now she probably is.

I have no real answers, but instead questions. Who will go to K's funeral when it happens? Is there a better way? Are their some people who are in fact not able to be helped?

If you do, would you mind saying a prayer for S and K that they might have some rest from their minds and find some peace......

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Great Love- The Hardest thing to do

I have not posted since August, not because I didn't want to but because my life has been mad.
Where to begin I am not sure. But I do know this I am learning the lesson of what Great Love is.
My friend and colleague, Gemma, posted about such love on the Dark Room Red Light Blog a great read so go there if you can.
In the last 4 weeks I have had my ability to love unconditionally shaken. It is something that has always come easily to me. I quickly take people into my heart, compassion and empathy are easy for me, a gift and a curse, as it is exhausting to care so much about people that you feel their pain, but it is what makes me good at what I do.
Then Yesterday........
There is a couple with whom I have been working with for over a year. In August last year they were homeless, heroin addicted and desperate. Then M found out she was pregnant. for the first time they asked for help. I took them to appointments, spent hours on the phone trying to find them accommodation and along the way grew to understand how and why they found themselves destitute and drug addicted, and, to love them. Together we worked our butts off to see them housed, drug free, having custody of their beautiful baby girl and their teenage son.

On Friday night M's mother txts me to say that Protective Services were bringing the children to her as M and B had a car accident and the police thought them to be drug affected. Seriously I wanted to get a big stick and smack them with it. Didn't they understand what it was they stood to loose? After a what must have been the longest weekend of their lives we end up at court Monday morning. It takes all day and I sit with these distraught parents, coping B's abuse because I know that it is not really me he is angry at, wiping M's tears and trying to get them to see it isn't the end of the world but thinking it might be. The worker who has worked with them since the birth of their baby sticks her neck out and advocates for them to have the kids back. I leave court exhausted but happy. M and B hug me as they go home to wait for their kids to return.
Then yesterday..................
M and B come in asking for food and stuff. I chat to M in th office about how they are and how we can help going forward she looks exhausted and is still very emotional. We put together some stuff for them and play with their baby girl who is seriously cute. B follows me into the office asking for a phone card. They leave hugging me and say see you Friday.............

My phone is gone also, it is almost certain that B took it whilst I was getting him a phone card as it was charging in the computer near where he stood. I am angry and sad, I cry and swear. Girls offer me money they've earned on the streets and one offers me a i-phone that was not bought at any apple store.
I am not really angry about the phone, its annoying especially as it is the second one I have had stolen. I am angry because I have helped these two more than anyone. Gemma rationalizes and bosses me about seeing a psychologist which I must and will do. But still I feel sad and angry- "Why steel from me? I help them. Thats it I am not helping them anymore!"
Sitting on the couch after the kids have gone to bed I hear the still quite voice and they conversation goes like this;
" You must love them with Great Love."
"Why should I? They don't love or respect me"
"Thats what Great Love is."
"but that's not fair and it is soo hard!."
"No but it is what it is- to love with no strings, unconditionally and continually despite what they do or say."
sigh "ok"
So there it is. To love expecting nothing in return is difficult, heart breaking and gets harder the more you get to know someone. But it is the core of what I believe and why I do what I do. So today I have made two resolves:
* To start seeing a psychologist that can help me stay mentally well, so I can continue to do what I do.
* To practice loving others as He has loved me- openly, with no strings and expecting nothing.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Foul Weather friends- for you my dear Olivia

An old and dear friend was killed yesterday and I am devastated. When my Tilly was little she spent so much time at his house that she called him Daddy Scott. He has left behind 3 beautiful girls and a wife who is truly the nicest woman you could ever meet. I haven't spoken to her because what do you say? I sent her a txt last night that simply said "sorry, we love you all."

I logged onto another blog that I haven't visited in quite sometime and there was the following devotion- It is perfect. I am going to print it out and give it to her when I see her but I wanted to share it with my fb friends who knew and loved Scott

How Can We Walk Through Life's Rain With You?

I wish I had a big red umbrella that would keep all the rain out of your life. I would hold it over your head and the drops would splash, splash and you would never even feel them.

But I don't have a big red umbrella...so I'll walk through the rain with you.

God doesn't intend for us to go through our storms alone. We all need our "foul weather friends" who will venture out into the weather with us.

There are two questions we must answer to not only survive but thrive through life's storms;

Who will walk through the rain with us? And will we let them?

Friends love through all kinds of weather. Proverbs 17:17 MSG

Devotional quote from the 365 Day Inspirational Calendar, Rain on Me based on the book, by Holley Gerth

My dearesrt Livy and your beautiful little girls I love you all so much and will walk through this rain with you xxxx

Monday, August 2, 2010

Aliens living on planet earth

Imagine you are captured by aliens and transported to their planet dropped in the middle of one of their cities and then expected to live there, with no one to tell you how to act, what the social norms are, how simply to be normal, not excel, just not stand out from the crowed . On top of that imagine that everyone around you is waiting and believing you will fail. Your previous existence has labelled you for ever. From the very top politicians, to woman next door, they expect the worst.

Welcome to the life of people who are moving from the world of drug addiction to what they call the straight world.

The Life we all think is normal is completely alien to them. They do not know let alone understand our social nuances. They do not even know the first thing about living outside of crisis because crisis is all they have ever known.

Over and over again I here those who have never been addicted to drugs talk about how simple it must be- Just stop taking drugs and everything will be ok. In reality the actual act of not taking drugs anymore is the easy bit, and believe me it is not so easy . A girl was withdrawing from heroin where I work described it as every living cell in her body hurting and screaming for the drug. Just today another girl said "I'm on the done Louisa" "good" I say "No you don't understand I feel so straight now I have to deal with my actual thoughts."

We applaud those who move away and get clean and rightly so, but this is the beginning not the end. They are like small children in this straight and very confusing world of ours. One full of subtleties and unspoken, unwritten rules. And in reality does society really want them to fit in or do we want to be proved right that once a "bloody junky" always one?

Just like a baby they do not need our scrutiny or our negative comments but instead our compassion and understanding that what they are trying to do is massively difficult. They need us to celebrate each and every small victory along the way.

I am constantly reminded that I am only one or two decisions away from being where these fellow humans found themselves. I am not there to judge, but to love and sometimes I fail. I am sorry to those along the way to whom I have not loved like I could have, or to whom my expectations and lack of understanding of the enormity of the task, have hampered your recovery. I will try to love others as they should be loved: unconditionally, compassionately, and without and expectation of receiving something in return.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Alone and without an advocate

I arrived home from work yesterday to find Tilly's first school report waiting for me. I have been dreading this moment.
Those that know Tilly know that she is a bright flamboyant child who has a mind of her own.
The thing is she is struggling at school, struggling with being a round peg shoved in a square hole and the report shows it.

In teacher speak each person who sees her talked of Tilly needing assistance to learn and concentrate and become a functioning member of the class. Nicely for sure never using the words naughty or having lack of concentration but there it was for all to see.
She already has a reputation as being the "naughty child" from teachers and kids alike.

The only person who advocates and believes in her at school is her teacher who despite knowing Tilly last year chose to have her in her class.
Now that teacher is leaving for very personal family reasons and although I completely understand I am freaking out. Why? Because it means my little girl will be alone and without anyone who will advocate for her.
I am frightened she will be labelled and that is it for the rest of her school life. Thing is I know that underneath is a clever little girl, I just dont know how to help her show it.

Being a mother is the most difficult thing I have ever had to do because there is no control and no rules and everyone has an opinion of what is the right thing to do. Today I just feel over whelmed by it all. By the mountains of washing that never get put away, by the house that never stays tidy for more than 2 mins no matter how hard I try, but most of all by the deep aching desire for my kids to win at life and not being able to do a darn thing about it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Ogres are like onions...... they have layers"

I need to qualify the title of this post, I am not implying that the woman I work with are Ogres. It is, for those lucky people that don't have to sit through animated features, a quote from Shrek where Shrek tries to explain to Donkey that he , being an ogre, is not a simple creature but complex and like an onion has layers.

So to are the woman I work with, complex I mean. Years of marginalization and chaotic lifestyle has lead to layers upon layers of issues that need to be dealt with if they are to move forward and reintegrate into society. Each and every time I think I have helped to better someones life there it is another layer as big and as complex as the last waiting there. The task is enormous and will take years if it can ever happen at all. And I am looking from the outside- what must it feel like to be them? No wonder some choose to give up, remain where they are.

There are days where I feel overwhelmed, feel useless and wonder what the hell I am doing. Last week I had one of those nights where thoughts of "my girls" as I have started to see them kept me up. I felt grief for the woman who lost her fight for her children and was told not to cry by the judge who was taking them away, joy for the couple who's son was being returned but fear that they might slip backwards and loose everything, angst about the need to protect the innocent whilst supporting a womans right to be given an opportunity to get it right this time,the list goes on.....onions

We, and I include myself in this, want a quick fix, a magic wand to wave, a band aid. Through money at it and it will be ok type of thing.

The truth is that that is not the way through. These woman and 1000's like them need people who are willing to walk life with them; To love them, when they cant love themselves, to put up with their anger and hate which will often be metered out to you simply because you are there, to hold up there arms in battle as they try and fight through. They need a community.

This is not up to a government agency or support service it is up to each one of us as human beings. It is up to each and everyone of us whether we work for a not for profit or are the CEO of a bank.

It is the essence of Small things with Great love- I cannot feed all the homeless in Victoria but I can feed and build relationship with the one who lives just down the road; I can not bring home every person who needs a home, but I can write letters to our PM so the homeless have a voice; I can talk to the mother in the playground who non of the other mothers will talk to because she is a single mum who is obviously poor; I can have a cup of tea with the lonely old lady down the road............

Not world changing stuff? No, but if we all did it I wonder how different it would be? If we each helped deal with 1 layer could we together change lives? Hmm I wonder

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It all begins with childhood

Yesterday was a particularly difficult day for me. And the things that occurred still sit heavily in my brain and heart and are what have prompted me to begin to blog again.
I will try and keep this short but there is such a lot to it.

On Monday my beautiful Tilly (6y) ,who all those who know me and her can confirm tests every boundary set for her, was reprimanded at school for indecent exposure. The thing is she was encouraged to do so by a bunch of 11 year old boys, who are still laughing about it and didn't even get in trouble. This is where it starts. Boys are taught that it is ok to treat little girls like this and as my mum said "in a few years time they will think it is ok to do what ever they like to 13 year old girls"

Once a month as part of my job as a centre support worker I take a woman to see her children for 1 hour- can u imagine 1 hr a month is all the time you get to see your kids, I miss mine if they go away for a night. This woman's life has been a series of abuses by men. We sat in the winter sun waiting for them to come and she told me of the heart ache of not having her children living with her and she cried broken sobs. During the access, which was actually for the most part lovely, she had to endure hearing her kids call their foster carer "mummy", on the phone and I saw her wince as it physically hurt her. On the way home in the car she shared with me her hatred of boys then men who have assaulted her and what it has done to her over the years. Yet most people would see her as a "bloody junky" that needs to simply stop taking drugs.

I get back to the center and there outside is this beautiful young lady that couldn't have been any older that 18 but probably more likely to be 16,scantily dressed even though it was cold and about to sell her body, to finance her boy friends habit. Some of the older sex workers talked of him sitting across the road earlier in a hotted up car, music blaring. It was if a line was being drawn from Tilly at 6y to my above mentioned woman in my head. I wondered if that boy was allowed to tease small girls into doing stuff that was inappropriate just as those boys in my daughters school had done;when he was young, had his dad, uncles, older male friends, encouraged him to look at the female form as a sex object rather than with respect?What had happened to make it ok in his brain to exploit someone he confesses to care about?Because it is in childhood that these opinions start to be formed- it makes me sad that our young boys are growing up without being taught to respect and honor woman in the name of equality and sexual freedom.

I did not sleep well last night as I have 2 girls, one who is approaching her teen years with a frightening pace and I worry for them. The sexual objectification of young woman appears to be normal in our society and accepted by all forms of main stream media. Why what value does it add? What will my girls allow boys then men to do to them because it is socially expectable in the future?How do I protect them without sheltering them? And the big picture question how do I as a liberated free woman affect social change to stop the cycle happening again and again? The answer I have to all of those questions is I just don't know, I just cant be quiet about it any longer.

Writing .........A new beginning

When I first came to Vic I started to blog out of a need to write about my heavy heart. I was clinically depressed, and felt alone and confused. Unsure of why I was here or what was my purpose. So much as changed.
My life is full of purpose, I work amongst the most marginalized of our society and I know why I was born.
But I again feel the need to write. It will not be eloquent or intelligent but I have things I need to get out of my head, things I must write about so I can process it.
If other people want to read it then so be it
So here I go................