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

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Broken Heart

The last few weeks at Gatehouse have been particularly tough. I can not share the exact events because it would involve disclosing personal stories of others I do not have permission to share.

I have been working at Gatehouse for 2 and 1/2 years. When I was applying for the job I sent my friend the position description to see if she thought I should apply. She said yes but remember it will break your heart. I remember laughing thinking of course it will but I am tough, I've seen it all...pft I was so wrong.

Tonight I have a broken heart. A heart that aches for what was lost, what should have been and scared for what will become.

Statistically the woman I work with are 20% more likely to die before they are 40, 50% more likely to have mental illness, more likely to be raped and abused and almost all have had periods of homelessness and poverty. Jim, whom I work with says that they are so much closer to death than the average person that we cant be surprised when they die.

If was a reader of this blog and I read these stats and think oh how dreadful, but its not because of these facts that I have broken my heart.

It is the beautiful woman who I have come to know and love and their stories behind the statistics. They are as much a part of my story now as I am of theirs and it is hard not to carry the burden of their shattered lives.

Tonight I found it difficult to transition back into "normal" life. So difficult in fact that I yelled at the family, I love for no reason, left the dinner table and took a walk. As mocha and I walked in the dark I cried silent tears. Asking that God would help me carry the emotional burden that comes with working with those on the edge.

I love my job and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is what I am to be doing at this point. I am just struggling at the moment to cope. My emotional reserve is empty.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Disordered Brain Part 2: The Dentist

Here we are again. Me and my disordered brain. Last night I had appointment with my psyc. Vicki is a softly spoken woman whom I know almost nothing about. She knows my deepest darkest thoughts, my fears and my failings.

Yesterday we talked about, amongst other things, my fear of going to the dentist. I am petrified. To the point I havent been for at least 7years despite having daily pain in my mouth and not being able to eat hard foods. Until yesterday Tilly had never been to the dentist and the others not for at least 7 years. Viki asked me would I prefer to have all my teeth ripped out and have false teeth instead. I said yes. Apparently that means my anxiety around dental procedures is as big as it gets.

Every time I think about going to the dentist I get thrown back to being 12, alone in the dentist chair having root canal with NO pain relief. The Dentist simply wouldn't believe that my tooth was not numb. I felt every needle that he inserted inside my tooth, felt the nerve of the tooth being ripped out and can I say it was worse than child birth in my 12 year old mind. He yelled at me and told me to be quiet that I was being naughty. Even slapped me on a couple of occasions.

So this post is to that 12 year old child who was alone scared and in much pain.
Dear 12 year old Louisa-Anne Meredith Skirving,

We are going to the dentist next Wednesday, we are taking our good friend Gemma with us so we wont be alone. We are going to let the dental hygienist that we are anxious to the point of being paralyzed. We are going to tell her and the dentist that we are afraid of not being listened to, of being in pain. That we need patience and understanding and if we say stop that is what we need.
When this all is done, we will be able to eat apples and steak and other things that need chewing and we wont wake up everyday in pain which will be a good thing. And it is likely that we will no longer scared of the dentist, also a good thing.

It will be ok.

Grown Up Louisa-Anne Meredith Tew

Monday, May 30, 2011

The lady on the floor

Today on my way to get Elly from dancing I stopped to get petrol. My tank had been on empty all day and I was scared I would run out if I went any further.
As you know, if you read this blog, I work with men and woman who are addicted to drugs. I thought I had become unshockable, but what I saw inside the BP has shocked me and left me feeling a little shaken.

As I walked in I noticed that there was a large que (annoying but not shocking), there were people milling about, paying for petrol, getting food, looking at the magazines. (nothing unusual). What was weird was that people were stepping over something. I couldn't see what, at first, but I assumed it was a spill on the floor or something of the like. As I got closer I saw it was not a spill but a young lady. She was skinny, filthy and had obviously dropped where she stood in the line, most likely as the result of a drug she had taken not long before entering the BP. But it wasn't the fact that she was lying there that shocked me. It was the fact that customers stepped over her like she was a log of wood, that the man behind the counter continued to serve them and that not one person cared that there was a human being obviously vulnerable and in need of some assistance right there infront of them.

I said to the dude behind the counter "do you need some help with her?" He replied "what? Oh her, no she is drunk I've called the cops they are on their way."

I knelt beside her rolled her over onto her side, pulled down her dress, which was up well above her waist, and put her bag under her head for a pillow. She was so deeply under the influence of what ever she had taken she didn't even react to my touch or my voice. I wanted to stay but Elly and her friends were waiting. So feeling guilty and worrying what would become of her I left her there, on the floor with people ignoring her very existence. All the way to dancing I wanted to go back, to be with her when the police came, to ensure they treated her with dignity, but I couldn't who would pick up Elly and her friends? So I drove on hoping and praying she would be ok.

I am sad that this is what our world has become. A place where we ignore those who are most in need around us, where communities take the "not in my back yard" approach to social justice issues and where we dont know our neighbours names let alone have a relationship with them. I realise that most of the people in the petrol station where like me, some where to be, on a time schedule. Thats just it though right? Its all about the schedule.

I am not writing this for pats on the back, cos really I did only what every other person who was in the line infront of me should have done, treated that poor young girl with a little dignity and respect. After all given slightly different life choices or slightly different experience she could easily have been one of us.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Frazled corners of the mind.

Almost 3 years ago I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. At the time they were like raging monsters eating my life from the inside out. I have come a long way since then. Mostly my anxiety is under control. Good friends and family, a magnificent husband and an excellent psychologist have allowed me to move forward with my life. Mostly this weakness is also my strength. I have an empathy for those who struggle with mental unwellness that helps me be good at what I do.

But today and for most of this week the beast has reared its ugly head, roaring loudly and making me feel like I am about to spiral out of control again. I am breathless, sleepless and jittery. I am crabby with the kids, unreasonably, again and my mind makes lists to try and deal with the myriads of thoughts that fly around it.

The reason- money. I have huge anxiety around money. My coping strategy had been to ignore it, not think about it, not look at it, use as little as possible. This year I decided that this was ridiculous, I am 37 in a week and I shouldn't be letting money hold me captive. Easy right?Actually it means I have to deal with things I have been ignoring for years. So off I went and it felt great, almost liberating. But this week it has all got hard, facing the true reality of what I have to do is making me sick. I want to run away again cos I know if I do my anxiety will go away to. But I am not going to. I am determined to beat it this time. It is the reason I write this post so I have a public record that says, "I Lousia-Anne Meredith Tew will no longer be held captive by the money anxiety monster. It may be painful and frightening and sickening but I will not die from anxiety and it will work out in the end if I keep pushing through."

So there it is. As I sit on the couch trying to breath like my pysc has taught, but really taking short shallow breaths that serve only to increase my anxiety levels I am making a resolve. To do what is necessary to get past this, one little step at a time.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Judge not lest you be judged ..........

This week has been one where I have been very ashamed of my fellow believers. It is sad as I had just spent 3 days at a conference with other people just like me and had come home thinking there was hope for the church and really wanting to find one to attend regularly...

On Monday morning I go to work and there is Fiona. Fiona is 8mths pregnant, a heroin addict and a street sex worker. She looked very sad as she searched through our clothes to try and find something to hide her bump. I asked if she was ok and she said no, she didn't expect to be down here(St Kilda) again and certainly not pregnant. She felt judged. I said that there was no judgement inside Gatehouse and she smiled. She then proceeded to tell me that her and her husband had been going to church and that they had got off drugs and were doing well for about a year. They got engaged and all was good. Then she got pregnant and the church threw them out. And now here she is with a habit again, 8 mths pregnant and selling her body instead of getting ready for the birth of her first child. Seriously where is that in the bible? Where is the unconditional love? I asked if I could pray for her and she said yes, tears streamed down her face as I asked God to show her his love. Inside I was furious if she would have told me the name of the church I would have rung them up and said "see what you have done, are you proud that your self righteous actions have caused this?"

On Wednesday I was reading my fb and one of my school friends posted ".....thinks it is all a crock of shit." of course I had to look. Turns out the Australian Christian lobby has a hateful site called saving marriage. I am not going to link to it because I don't want anyone else to have to read it. It has a section that details arguments against homosexual marriage. It states that once this is allowed it opens the door for to incestual relationships and that same sex parents will harm their children. More hate, more vilification. Again angry I posted on my friends fb that I was sorry and that not all people of faith were this bigoted.

I am sick and tired of two diminutional Christianity. Anti abortion and anti homosexuality is what they preach. They stand out side abortion clinics with signs and placards(and sometimes bombs) heaping hate on woman who have made the hardest decision of their lives. They hold meetings to discuss the evil that is incarnate in the homosexual person and how they will destroy the fabric of out society.

Last night 200 children were killed in afghanistan when an American bomb missed it's target and landed on a school instead, tonight 200 people will sleep on the street in the Port Phillip region alone, our indigenous community is being ripped to shreds by a unjust and undemocratic law that removes their rights, Again. Where are the churches rising up against these injustices?

Aren't we supposed to bring reconciliation and peace?

I know that their justification will be about people knowing THE truth, about making disciples of all nations but what they fail to see is that THE truth is one of love and peace and compassion and that discipleship is not about moralizing or telling society what is wrong or right but about the One. The One person God has put in front of me right now. To hold that person with compassion showing them God's love for them. So that he may reveal himself to them. This is not done on by angry protests or meetings but by the everyday relationships we choose to build with our community.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Life is Hard and then it gets harder

Today we began the big clean up Gatehouse it was wiped out by the storm water drain over flowing on Friday night. Not much can be saved. Jim and I had the unenviable task of trying to make us barely functional. Water and dirt every where, in every thing.
As we began B came to the door. "sorry chick we are closed." I say. " I really need to talk to you" B replies with an anxious look on her face. *sigh* "Ok lets go out side" I motion out the door but she doesn't move. "Its Dannielle I have seen her since Friday......."
She could have then been speaking French after that. My vision narrowed and I felt sick.
Danielle is a beautiful young woman who I have seen almost 5 days a week for the past 2 years. She had no where to go on christmas day so she came to our place with her lovely daughter who she sees once a fortnight. She is also a drug addict and my friend.
I had tried to txt her on the weekend to see if her house had flooded, no answer. Tried again to see if she had her daughter and would we all go to the park, no answer. Tried to ring her this morning to see if she wanted a lift to Gatehouse again nothing.
I instictively knew that something was wrong as B told me stuff that I have no idea about. It took no more than two phone calls to discover that Danielle was in intensive care with a massive brain injury.
Gemma and I dropped everything to go visit.
There was my friend as vunerable as I have ever seen her. Six lines in with various medicines and food. A machine breathing in and out for her. Her head shaven and bandages wrapped around it. Cooled to 33 degrees because it may help her recovery, her skin was grey.
As a speech pathologist I have stood in ICU wards many times before. I can read the monitors and understand the lingo. She is seriously ill and there are no grantees she will be ok.
My head screaming inwardly, "WHY GOD WHY", as I stand there stroking her calmly telling her she has to wake up. That her daughter needs her, that there are people who love her, that I need her.
I have been at Gatehouse for 2 years in March and the longer I am there the harder it gets. I spend more time with the woman than my own family. And I have grown to love them. It hurts to see them messing up there lives and not being able to stop it. But it is the nature of the Job and the nature of "small things with great love" But today "small things" did not seem enough I just hope "Great Love" is.....
I will end today with a quote I stole from Gemma my friend who's beautiful writing about today today and a photo of Danielle can be found here.

"Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain." William Faulkner.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Man next Door

As described in my last post we have lived next to an interesting character. S was an inventor, chief of neighborhood watch, and a sad lonely man. You will notice my past tense. Well that is because S is dead." He was killed in a head on collision. The Police are not sure if it was an accident or suicide. Could be either given his constant talk about "people who want to die" and his terrible terrible driving. He was only 41.
S will be missed by very few people. He had no real friends to speak of and his mum is nearly as crazy as he was.
I will miss him though. I will miss our weird conversations about his latest inventions, the way the world would end, or his day at "supernatural school". I will miss him sitting on his bench in his front yard at all times of the day or night. As I walked passed his place tonite and I saw the lonely seat and I felt sad. We were not conventional friends but a strange as it may seem I liked him and will miss the quirky relationship we had.
Goodbye S, the Tew family will miss you x