It’s certainly no secret to my family and friends that I wrestle with The Black Dog from time to time.
Thankfully I have had some incredible family and super special friends who do everything in their power to ensure my time spent with the black dog is limited. For those who tell me (or you) to “snap out of it”, “deal with it”, or just “get over it”, you’ve obviously never struggled with depression or mental illness. It’s not that easy. It’s not easy at all. Despite focusing on the positive, despite living in the now, despite mediating and relaxing. It’s just not that easy. Mental illness is an illness, not a mood or attitude, not something you can “snap out of”.
After time spent in therapy, I have learnt that my depression is situational.
Situational depression is a short-term form of depression that can occur in the aftermath of various traumatic changes in your normal life, including divorce, retirement, loss of a job and the death of a relative or close friend. Doctors sometimes refer to the condition as adjustment disorder.
I had experienced one such incident recently after leaving the job of my dreams (or being sacked – I’m still not sure what happened) and around the same time, my son was beaten by some random drugged youth, which brought the black dog knocking at my door once again. The interviews and statements to police began and so did the stress, anxiety and depression.
Of course I kept playing over and over in my mind why. Why would some stranger want to hurt my beautiful, kind, sweet, generous boy?
Why am I no longer working the job of my dreams in which I gave my all and then some. Why does that person not care about me as I cared for them? Is it just business? Why does it have to be so hurtful? What did I do wrong when I thought I was doing so much, especially since I made it perfectly clear from the get go that I have a chronic illness that impacts on my ability to work long hours and at speed.
I quickly slipped into that deep pit of despair and not known quite how to dig myself out yet again. Although I am more aware of what is happening to me these days and knowing some of the steps I need to take to ensure my mental health remains positive, it is never quite that straight forward once that damn dog is nipping at my heels.
A couple of my friends, recently came to my aide. I am not sure they are even aware of what they have done for me but without them, their unwavering support and belief in me, I have no doubt I would still be stuck in that damn pit with that bloody dog sitting on my lap sharing his blood sucking fleas. If they’re reading this, I really need DT & RM know just how very much I appreciate them, their friendship, their loyalty, their resolve and their unconditional love. Everything about them. They are my tribe and I sure hope I am part of theirs. They are the most selfless people I’ve had the honour of forming friendships with and I love, adore and appreciate them both so very much.
It all began one Saturday evening when I was dropped off at D’s house with my overly filled luggage so I could join him for the two hour drive to Sydney from Newcastle. We must have talked a lot because the drive seemed to go by in no time, made even more special by a super sized bag of Malteasers on hand – thanks D 😁
I later chuckled at D’s attempts to annoy me during the trip by driving along the rumble strips on the freeway. I have an 18 year old son and a 21 year old daughter. Your feeble attempts at annoyance pale in comparison to those of my children.
We drove into the city and I was wide eyed and expectant like a kid in a candy store. I love this city. The older I get the more I appreciate it’s beauty, the architecture, the people, the diversity and almost everything about it. It is always such an exciting adventure for me, made even moreso with my great friends by my side.
We arrived at the hotel where B was waiting to meet us. D parked the car and we walked up to the foyer to be greeted by B.
We walked into the hotel, you would think I had never been in a 5 star hotel before. Truth be known, I hadn’t. I was ridiculously wide eyed and gawping at everything, trying to not be so obvious. I was so excited. I may not have shown it on the outside but on the inside I felt as though I could burst. I tried so very hard to contain my childish excitement. We approached the front desk and registered our booking before receiving the key to our rooms.
I was completely surprised that we each got our own room, thanks to B and I’m sure D as well. I was totally expecting to have a room to share. How incredibly spoiled are we, how incredibly spoiled am I?
We headed up to our rooms, I had a balcony room on the ninth floor! How exciting is that! I was flabbergasted. Really, I was. I just couldn’t believe I was there and to be honest I kept waiting to wake from this surreal, wonderful dream.
I am speechless. I can’t believe I am in Sydney, staying at The Sir Stamford in Circular Quay AND now dining at ARIA. Someone pinch me. This has to be a dream.
We sat by the window with the most incredible view of both the Opera House and The Sydney Harbour Bridge. Not to mention the most stunning harbour on the globe. How incredibly fitting. I just sat at that table staring out the window for way too long. It was simply stunning.
Our meal was divine and I must say, one of the most delicious, taste sensations I’ve ever experienced.
I ordered the Saikou Salmon with Apple, Dill and Horseradish for entree. It was completely divine. That fish simply melted in my mouth and the flavours were so subtle but so incredibly delicious.
Before being served our entree, we were presented with a gorgeous little handmade ceramic bowl that nestled neatly within the palm of my hand. It contained the most delicious little sashimi mouthful with maybe caviar (I can’t remember now). A palate cleanser apparently. It was just perfect and totally unexpected.
D ordered a divine rose’ that accompanied dinner as well.
For main, I ordered Roasted Cauliflower Croquette with Cime Di Rapa and Truffle Hazelnut Pesto. This too was a taste sensation but I could not finish it. I was filling up quite swiftly. Mind you we were given another palette cleanser between courses. This time it was some sort of citrus mouse, so crisp and refreshing.
After our meal, we were offered coffee and petit fours
We finally left the restaurant, we were the last to leave and once I realised we were the last remaining customers, I was surprised that we were allowed to continue with our conversation and shenanigans. The staff were so incredibly patient and polite, even though they’re paid to be. I was so impressed – with the food, the staff, the wine, the location and of course the company.
We headed back to our hotel where we planned to continue our evening with a nightcap or three. This idea unfortunately was short lived. The bar in the hotel was closing. It was after midnight. We couldn’t believe it. We had arrived at the restaurant at 5:30pm.
Regretfully we retired to our rooms where we were supposed to be getting some sleep before our adventure the next day.
I couldn’t sleep. Apart from being so ridiculously excited that I was in Sydney, at the Sir Stamford, awaiting an amazing adventure, about to check another item off my bucket list, waiting for someone to pinch me and wake me up. We had discovered at dinner that it was B’s birthday the week before. She hadn’t told us so I sat up and knitted a scarf for B from a skein of yarn that I had dyed and spun. It was a superfine Australian Merino and was incredibly soft and luscious.
By the time I was finished knitting it was almost time to get up. I managed about an hours sleep before being woken by the sound of a megaphone outside my window.
This was incredibly inspiring and certainly brought a smile to my face. What a fabulous way to start the morning. The woman on the megaphone was amazing.. She was encouraging as many individual runners as she could, yelling them that they looked great, that they could do it, that they had it in the bag.
I guess you’re wondering what the whole thing is about, well it was the Sydney Half Marathon
Even more inspiring given what I, what we were about to embark upon.
Today, this day, will be just another day to millions of people.
For me, today is something incredibly amazing.
For me, someone with Acromegaly, fibromyalgia, hypopituitism, arthritis, a spinal injury and more, this day is a huge deal. I’ve been told by my specialists that I should not be able to walk. That if I survived this long I’d be in a wheel chair.
We’ve been through this before I know. I don’t mean to bore you but there are people who’ve not read my history so to fill them all in and to give a picture of why this day is such a big deal for me, these things need to be repeated.
For those who don’t know, some fifteen + years ago I began to experience extreme exhaustion, unexplained weight gain, unexplained joint pain, migraines, sickness and more.. All tests came back negative and the consensus was that I was just too fat. Lose weight they said but I couldn’t. I had dieted and tried to exercise but despite all of this, despite following the diets to the enth degree and being in too much pain to walk. Despite blood test after blood test after blood test, for so many years they just kept coming up negative. The thing is, they were doing the wrong blood tests.
Anyway, it was finally established that I have Acromegaly and a pituitary tumour and I’ve been seeking treatment for that ever since.
Some people with Acromegaly don’t seem to experience joint pain at all but for me, it’s beyond debilitating most days. It’s exhausting and it messes with your hormones, your mood, your ability to think clearly, your outlook on life and more. Throw in a couple more chronic illnesses and I have more days in bed resting, surviving, just trying to make it to the next day more than anything.
Well I decided recently that I need to see if I can push harder. Not that you can push harder when you’re this ill. I have had a mind shift and as a result I’ve found I’ve been successfully overcoming more challenges than usual. I can’t tell you why, or how as I don’t really know. I’ve been taking cannabis oil and help seed milk. I’m sure it’s made a huge difference to my quality of life because I haven’t been this mobile for years. I do know that I’ve been trying to place more focus and empathises on the positives in my life. I’ve been consciously removing toxic people from my life, people who do nothing for me except make me miserable or depressed or even stressed and upset. I’ve finally realised that I’m better than that. That I deserve to be happy and content just as you do too.
So part of my new found positive life is checking items of my living bucket list.
That’s where we return to this tale.
This morning I awoke early, as mentioned earlier when I watched the marathon runners. I showered and dressed, made myself a cup of tea then made my way downstairs to the foyer to meet my friends.
Together, the three of us set of for a morning walk, in fact one of us had already been up early and taken a stroll around the harbour. It wasn’t me.
We walked toward The Rocks, stopping at Circular Quay for the obligatory tourist photos along the way before stopping at Guylain for breakfast.
I ordered a ristretto and a slice of toast. It was served as four slices of toast with Guylain chocolates on the side of course.
Naturally I struggled to eat just one slice of toast but I managed coffee and chocolate.
We finished breakfast and headed back to The Sir Stamford to collect or luggage from our rooms and place it all in the car.
We then headed back out for our long awaited adventure. Well my long awaited adventure. I’m not sure my friends were as excited as I was. B has a paralysing fear of heights that I didn’t find out until we started climbing.
Can you guess yet what we’re doing?
That’s right! My incredibly generous, kind hearted friends took me on the Harbour Bridge Climb.
I was terrified. Completely terrified.
Not so much terrified of heights, although until recently I have been beyond terrified of heights. I was terrified that I wouldn’t make it. That I would hold up the rest of the group. Terrified that I’d run out of strength or energy or breath or that the pain would be totally overwhelming.
I didn’t. In fact B asked me a couple of times to slow down because she couldn’t keep up.
I did get all wobbly and incredibly dizzy and disoriented a couple of times and feared I would not be able to continue. I do know I pushed too hard and I’m pretty sure I was dehydrated too as you can’t take water with you. There are about two bubblers strategically placed along the walk but I would have liked more.
We climbed to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge!
We did it!
I did it with not only the help and support of two beautiful people but with two of the most important, amazing, kind, generous, funny, loving people in my life. Without these two I would never, ever have accomplished this long held dream or checked it off my bucket-list.
Without these two friends I would not be the person I am today.
You know, they say that you need to find your tribe and until recently I never really quite understood what that meant. After developing friendships with these two, I finally understand.
Yep, we did it!
Together we reached the pinnacle of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The most famous bridge on the most famous harbour in the world.
What an incredible experience.
What an amazing view.
What a once in a lifetime experience.
With immense, immeasurable thanks to B & D. Without you both there is no way in the world that I would ever have accomplished this dream.
Again, a reminder to those of you who’ve been told you can’t do something or you’ll never be able to do something, please don’t ever give up on your dreams. They are never impossible. Maybe incredibly challenging and currently beyond your reach but that doesn’t mean they will always be so.
What brings your soul joy?
Please take the time to leave a comment below and tell us what is on your bucket list or what you’ve managed to tick off your bucket list.