Colour me a chocolate bullet

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So it turns out that whilst chocolate licorice can sometimes be the answer, the side effect of indulging on them in your post party haze is a nasty one indeed. Party pooper overload it would seem.

I have hit a big black hole. I kinda expected it in the come down from what has been both an epically challenging couple of months combined with my 40th birthday. I have a beautiful post ready to hit publish on from last weekend but I am not feeling the happiness in it so I will refrain for now. I often just want to post what I feel because the process of me emptying my head is a cathartic one. Be patient with me, if you don’t mind.

My head is a big jumble. I am positive that it is a combination of severe sleep deprivation (thanks anxiety, you rock on that front) and sheer exhaustion. I am procrastinating dreadfully which leads to chaos and more stress and worry and anxiety. I haven’t run in ten days. Yes, TEN. Actually I haven’t exercised AT ALL in ten days except to lift my arm up to the top cupboard to get another giant chocolate bullet.

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I blame these pretty boxes that were on the table last weekend. I had to fill them with lollies because, cute. I thought I was on a winner with one kilogram, yes, 1000 grams of chocolate licorice left over. Gah!

So add these together and tell me what you get:

sleep deprivation sheer exhaustion no exercise party time come down (hello, reality) obsessively eating chocolate licorice

I can tell you what you don’t get. Serotonin. “Whatevs, serotonin, schmerotonin.”

But this wonder neurotransmitter makes us FEEL good. And as I am ALL about feelings then I need me some serotonin. Stat.

Serotonin levels are boosted by exercise so imma gonna be sayin’, “Anna, get off your chocolate licorice arse and go for a run.”

Serotonin regulates appetite which explains my insatiable one this week. I found myself at the kitchen bench eating a spinach and fetta pastry AND a chicken and avocado sandwich AND several chocolate bullets (probably, er, six) and wondering why the fuck I felt shit. I rarely eat that much gluten and sugar and I are not great friends. So thanks for that serotonin and your no show for you added a kilogram (of chocolate bullets) to my belly this week.

A lack of serotonin affects your sleep so well, der.

But wait, this is the kicker. 90% of serotonin is in your gut. So if you fill it with champagne, which I did to great effect last weekend, then follow that up with sugar and forget to eat your fermented vegetables because you know, hangover, then it is game over. Serotonin is wiped clean and you drop lower than a 40 year old’s boobs.

So you chocolate licorice in all your chocolately licoricey glory (it would appear that a lack of serotonin means that adjectives are out of reach as well), you are dumped. Hello fermented vegetables + fabulous tryptophan foods. Sheesh, what a come down.

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But because I want to feel as good as this girl did last weekend then I will suck it up for that Princess knows a bit about making herself feel better. And well, feelings.

Colour me a little grey – moody + just not feeling right. Colour me a whole lot resilient and determined. I don’t have a colour for that right now so perhaps I need to add to my rainbow. What colour would that be?

Mostly I think because now I understand these feelings then you could colour me green – with clarity + understanding. With a side order of serotonin.

Colour me running on empty

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On the weekend, after successfully celebrating the third birthday of the one fanged monkey, we got in the car to drive home. The weather was amazing and the tiny little road along the Waterfront was packed with G-Town locals chasing the sun. The Baker and I were high-fiving ourselves for getting through the third of four parties in as many weeks.

Then we ran out of petrol.

Some choice words were used here. Mainly by the Baker as there were several pairs of young eyes staring at us from the back seats. Some less than choice words were used by me, as in my defence I blurted that I hate filling up the car with petrol. This didn’t go down so well with the Baker or the two cars we blocked in on the side of the road. I said “I’m doing the best I can” a lot too.

But in reality, that tank of petrol is a bit like my head right now. I am running on empty. I am exhausted, shattered and spent.

My emotional tank is also empty. It has no fuel left it either.

I like this choice of words for a couple of reasons: a) it is not a swear word which is highly unusual in my day to day vocab and b) it helps me understand why I can’t give myself to everyone. Sometimes I can only just give myself to myself.

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Lately I feel like I have used every single drop of my own emotional tank to process my own thoughts that I can’t offer as much empathy, support and love to those around me. My emotional tank is a bit like one of these buckets, only it is not getting filled. I am doing a lot of stuff for a lot of people but in trying to fill my bucket, I think I emptied my emotional tank. Perhaps helping everyone else is my defence mechanism. My way of coping. That is okay for now, but it is exhausting at the same time. It is a dark and tough place to be. This depleted emotional tank means that I need to take time out.

In a big way.

And during this current stage of tiredness, I am learning a hard lesson in life. It is one that I have talked about so many times. It is something that I thought I had down pat.

That is, the ability to say no

It turns out that this is a difficult skill to perfect. People with anxiety are pleasers and often at their own expense. What a bummer that is. But since my recent panic attack plus another one this past weekend along with many teary wobbles, sleepless nights and general malaise, I am under strict instructions to say no.

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Right now, this seems nearly impossible. There is a big birthday of mine coming up this weekend so I want to say yes to all the happy and fuck off to all the worry. Let me sleep brilliantly this week so I can celebrate the beauty of turning 40 without all the other bullshit.

There is the end of the school term, the school concert, some surgery for the one fanged monkey and then school holidays. But a lack of routine and fingers crossed, a blind eye to the mess should help me to slow down. To calm down.

So, are you ready to join in? Want to say no with me? I am going to be saying no, no, no, just like Amy Winehouse. I am hoping it becomes as addictive as saying yes can be for my anxious head.

I wonder what colour no is.

Perhaps it is blue – calm + mindful because that is where my head will be when I empty it of all the noise and refuel that emotional tank. Or perhaps it is red – confidence + bravado because I will need this to be comfortable with saying no. And for not feeling any guilt about saying no. Because there is no point in saying no if you are going to feel guilty about it.

Colour me with a clear head, a clear schedule and some much needed down time. Colour me saying no.

 

 

Colour me a long black

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I freakin’ love coffee.

the smell : the ritual : the take away container : the five minutes of peace in a cup if I am by myself : the three minutes of happiness if I am balancing it with a limb shooting toddler : the beans : the grinder : the happy barista : the instagram : the need for it : the love

I even like searching for coffee. I will drive kilometres out of the way for my daily grind.

I freakin’ love the stuff. Did I mention that I freakin’ love the stuff?

The problem is that the stuff doesn’t always love me. In fact, right now it is really, really not liking me. Do you know how heart breaking this is? I feel like I have been dumped by a cup of joe.

You see, coffee loves anxiety.

the racing heart : the beating chest : the rush : the adrenaline : the palpitations : the high : the desire : the need to get a fix

For someone like me, this is a tough combination.

In my darkest days, I restricted myself to one cup. I only ever drank it mid morning as I remember going into panic whilst drinking it at 8am with my hand waving, emotion flailing panicked self trying to get out the door for the school run. But then I got stronger again, my resilience was awesome and my colourful armour of calm was protecting me in every way.

So I let an extra coffee a day in. My beautiful long black in the morning became a repeat treat a few hours later. And from there I went happily along in my daily ritual. Blessed in the socialisation of coffee and all that it brings.

Then I panicked.

Panic means that my system is racy, my nerves are jittery and the likelihood of me panicking again is quite real. There is far too much adrenaline going on at the moment. All the time in fact. And because the thought, even the inkling, that I may panic again is one of the worst, most terrifying feelings that I have possibly known then I need make a change.

So my cup of joe is a solo adventure once more. Just the one. I can’t deal with the headache of giving it up all together so I will manage with my just one.

My cup is half full. I’d like two full cups but I’ll let that slide. I will see the positive in this small daily change. I will reap the benefits eventually. My shaky system will calm and I will calm as well.

But you, you gorgeous cup of joe, I will love you and leave you for now. It is me not you. I need to change and you can’t come with me.

Colour me calm, please.

Please colour me blue.

Calm + mindful I will be once more.

Colour me a blogger

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I am going to call myself a blogger.

You may laugh at this for one of two reasons. The first would be because as you are reading this er, blog it is easy to presume I am already a blogger. Secondly, if you’ve been watching my over active Instagram feed, you’ll know that I’ve just attended the latest Problogger conference on the Gold Coast.

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The thing is, when you start a blog, you do so in the comfort of your front room with an iMac and a big dream. Then someone other than your mum begins to read it and you write some more. Soon you get messages of encouragement and support and the feeling that people out there enjoy what you are doing. So you keep on keeping on.

Life gets in the way and you don’t post so regularly for a bit. Or for a (long) while. Then your calendar clears and you post like a mofo. But you’ll never be as organised as The Organised Housewife despite being a housewife yourself. So many blog posts ready to hit publish on? {Insert that emoji with the wide eyes here. Then the one with the clapping hands.} Colour me impressed.

But before long your social media pages like up like the Griswald’s house on Christmas vacation. So you invest in yourself a little and click ‘proceed’ to head to the Gold Coast for the annual festival of the blog world known as #pbevent

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But anxiety and a conference of 500+ peeps is an intimidating experience, especially at breakfast on day one when you cannot see straight into the eyes of a single person you know. And as you organise your life away from the small people, you send yourself into a tailspin that equals a panic attack because you know, packing + scheduling + organising + parenting can manifest into a shitty adrenaline spike.

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But I don’t feel bad about leaving the kids because life with them is grand but a few days away from them is priceless. I need to take a moment to break from the noise and the constancy of demands and routine and exhaustion. Even if it is just for a chance to wear white jeans and party like it’s 1999, which didn’t happen because I was too freaking tired.

I was super relieved to see Emma Stirling invite me into a taxi at the airport where I met Carly Findlay and her contagious zest for life. Then I got to squeeze the real life persona that is Vanessa from Style and Shenanigans and hang with the divine Kiralee from Escape with Kids – thank you for being my wingmen!

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Subsequent conversations over the next two days tell stories of people ordering room service to avoid that giant buffet of bloggers at breakfast altogether. It doesn’t stop me making a tit of myself in front of Mrs Woog in an altogether dreadful attempt to stay cool when all I really wanted to do was kiss her and thank her for her honesty. I went to breakfast at 7am on day two to eat happily alone.

Then I started to network, which didn’t come easily especially when I tell people I blog about anxiety until nearly everyone I meet says, “Can I have your card? I have anxiety too.” I high five myself for having a business card even if it does have my mobile number on it instead of my social media links.

One person I met looked me straight in the eye and thanked me for being so honest in my writing and that a particular post resonated with them. Someone else told me they loved my blog. And my shoes. My shoes get so much attention I wondered if they needed their own hashtag and I love that there’s a room full of people who completely get why they would!

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I listened to a plethora of inspiring speakers and soaked up more knowledge than I can process. I am exhausted by the potential – my potential – and as I filled pages of my notebook with ideas and action and collaborations I came to the realisation that I.AM.A.BLOGGER.

Holy Shit! When did that happen?

It happened because I made it happen. It happened because in my darkest most awful days I chose to write instead of open a bottle of wine. I wrote openly and honestly because it is the only way I know how to. I wrote regularly enough for people to want to read and listen and engage. I created this because I wanted this. And THIS is a freakin’ awesome feeling.

I took my diary of grey and translated it into something legible. Beautiful people wanted to read it : resonate with it : share it : comment on it : and give a shit about me when I panicked. And how during Problogger I fell in love with the Little Moments App and a little bit with myself too.

Now I can see the potential of my words even if I still don’t fully understand SEO and plugins and a whole lot of other bloggy terminology that will see me keep the L-plates on for a bit longer. That I can also see the potential of Colour me Anna becoming a hub of wellness and calm and how I can make a living without compromising myself or the personality I have created.

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I am proud of myself for making it to the Gold Coast. It was a seriously big deal to get there. I wobbled a few times along the way. I let some people overwhelm me when they were probably feeling overwhelmed themselves. I took a breather when I needed it. I ran on Friday morning looking for endorphins to steady me. I laughed out loud, I adored the interaction and I am patting myself on the back.

I should never have doubted myself.

I should have channelled red like only I know how – confidence + bravado.

I should have drawn on blue – calm + mindful – when it got overwhelming.

In the end, I colour myself yellow – happiness + optimism – because hell yeah, I can.

 

Colour me breathing

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Over the past two days I have been over analysing everything.

Why did I have a panic attack again? What did I do in the lead up to it that caused it to happen? How could I have changed things to avoid it? What did I do wrong? How come this happened to me again?

Who? What? When? Where? How?

Gah, if there were an Olympic sport of over analysing then I am Usain Bolt. Nah, I am Flo-Jo in all her manicured glory. Because that 80s wonderwoman showed us how awesome super long nails and running fast could be. I am going to pretend there were no drugs because I am staying in my happy little bubble right now.

But this morning I burst into tears in front of the coffee machine. The kids also burst into tears except the one fanged monkey who said, “Wotwongmum.” High fives buddy.

So I decided to stop over analysing because it just is.

IT. JUST. IS.

The one thing I know I have forgotten to do lately is breathe. Long, slow, deep breaths. Mindful, conscious breathing. Taking a moment to realise this has immediately made me feel better. Knowing that if I continue to breathe then I will be okay.

So today I will take in the neighbours’ blossoming magnolia, the sunshine, cuddles from my family and a tremendous sense of love that everyone here has given me. If there is strength in numbers then all of your support here has made me feel confident again. Because nothing knocks the wind out of your sails like panic.

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I think I just forgot to breathe.

Colour me blue – calm + mindful. Bathe me in blue. Allow me to breathe in the blue and out the grey.

 

Colour me a new day

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Tonight I had a panic attack in a restaurant with the kids and the Baker. I’m not really sure how it happened. What a bitch she is, that anxiety, to visit me unannounced. Those chest tightening, breath stealing, heart racing, motion freezing feelings that had remained aloof for over twelve months crashed my peace party. My months of calm, that I kept congratulating myself on, high fiving, back slapping, thanking my lucky stars, go back to square one as I reset the non panic clock again. What an all together fucking shitouse wave of super crappy emotions.

Fuck you anxiety and your crippling ways.

Fuck you anxiety and your raining on my parade.

Fuck you anxiety for just being.

I am angry and disappointed and shocked and edgy that you got through my amazing barrier of calm. How dare you break through my wall of mindfulness. My heart is brimming with love and kindness so don’t you try and fit in worry too.

But most of all anxiety, you are not welcome. The busyness of my life may slow for a bit. The fragility of my mind may take a bit longer to repair. And the unwinding of my edginess will be fuelled by my determination. You will not beat me.

Back to basics it is. Simple food, mindfulness, exercise and love. Writing is helping me right now, which is lucky as I’d quite like to sit in the wine cupboard for a while. And then there’s the Baker who has taken charge of the kids’ bedtime and sent me to my room. I hope I sleep tonight for it will be doubly shit if I can’t.

I know there is a silver lining here somewhere. Maybe there’s a sign telling me to slow down, stop and listen. Take charge, restock, all the cliches. Did I miss it? What a fucker this sign came at all. But it is here, and I will find out why. I will. I must. I can.

Hello grey – moody and just not feeling right. It’s been a while since you visited me. I’m not happy to see you. I beat you quickly tonight and came out of my panic much quicker than my old self would have ever been able to. I should be proud of that if I wasn’t so exhausted. No, I am proud of that even if I am shocked.

Tomorrow is a new day.

 

Colour me doing the best I can

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I started writing this post a few days back before I had my tantrum that saw me quit parenting for a night and fall asleep at 6.15pm. Those who follow my Facebook posts clearly resonated with my mummy meltdown.

But back on Tuesday, I so was frustrated with myself that I couldn’t get my words out. I sat at my computer trying to write both a column and a blog post and approximately four coherent words fell onto the page. Even less fell out of my mouth. In hindsight (oh, that value is priceless), it was because I was exhaustimipated.

It has, without a doubt, been a massive week and weekend. Two birthdays then two birthday parties. We do a party every second year but it appears that they are getting bigger then Ben Hur. I was super organised because that is how I roll. I was very calm all weekend which also surprised me.

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During the busyness that is a birthday extravaganza, my reaction to some stupidity that seemed super important to a newly nine year old was blurted out as, “I am doing the best I can.”

Wash, rinse, repeat after me.

I AM DOING THE BEST I CAN.

What I hadn’t appreciated was that the kids would be very accepting of this as a satisfactory answer. And to be quite honest, I was really comfortable saying it and a little bit proud. Nay, a lot proud.

The kids spent the week in a spectacularly impressive “want, want, want” mentality as they were inundated with birthday excitement. Although I wanted to shout that theirs were simply first world problems, I refrained and answered their constant (and often unreasonable) demands with, “I am doing the best I can.” Mostly they shrugged their shoulders and walked away. They were either happy with my answer or knew that they’d pushed that boundary. And most of the time when these words left my lips, I did not shout. All remained calm and coordinated.

The one thing I do know is that my ‘best I can’ is really actually quite good. I don’t mean this to sound arrogant for it is the furthest thing from that you can imagine. When you do the best you can, it really is good. Really good. Because it is the best you can do. We should pat ourselves on the back more for this very reason. And not Judgy McJudgerson. For in my world, and for that mum on the iPhone like me, judging is for bitches.

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My best I can weekend included a great disco party for the entire class plus the teacher which was as chaotic and noisy and exhausting as it sounds. But my seven year old loved every bit of it. She even loved her sugar free and dairy free cake which most kids left on the plate. Her resilience is phenomenal and sometimes she surprises me with her insightfulness. She knows that this is her birthday cake option so she scoffed it with coconut cream and all. If it was on offer she would have eaten it with a camomile tea. She is doing the best she can.

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The next day we backed it up with a roller skating party. “It is roller BLADE-ING now mum”, says the newly nine year old rolling her eyes. I’d like to roller blade her rolling eyes.

Nine year olds are an awesome lot. The only problem were the bazillion extra grey hairs I sprouted watching precious offspring whizz around on concrete. Whilst many of them were completely hopeless in the first 30 minutes, they all kept trying and did the best they could. At the end of the party there was a whole room of exhausted but proud nine year olds. And I learnt a lot from them.

I learnt that trying is the best you can.

I learnt that resilience and bouncing back (or bouncing on concrete) is the best you can.

I learnt that friendship and awkwardness and learning how to manage all of that, is the best you can.

I learnt that birthday parties and parenting and trying to hold a conversation are the best I can.

And I learnt that sometimes just getting through my day without having a complete meltdown is the best I can.

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So I invested back in myself this week. I will do extra Pilates and no mid week running thanks to sheer exhaustion. Then I decided to give a shit about my exhausted appearance and play along with Style and Shenanigans and her #snstexture. This means that I consciously get dressed and put on my game face every day. Faking it has worked for me in the past and this week, it has been a fabulous way for me to feel like I am doing the best I can.

Then at the end of a seriously large amount of sleep over the past two nights, I picked up the one fanged monkey from day care. He has oddly had an aversion to painting (I know, go figure) for the entire year. He straight out refuses to join in. What it is about, I have no idea. His speech is not clear enough for him to articulate that. But for whatever reason, he decided that yesterday was the day that he was going to do the best he can. And he did this.

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Colour him a painter. Colour him doing the best he can.

Colour me red because doing the best I can should scream confidence + bravado. Doing the best I can IS the best. And that feels like the bravest thing I have done in a long time.

 

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