craft camp

Looking back, even though it was only four days ago, craft camp was a little bubble. An island of relative calm and happiness. No radio, no television. Just the newspaper, and even that was optional. As always, it's blissful to have a break from preparing meals and negotiating family life. To miss my little family and remember how much I love them. To do much as I like and immerse myself in making and the pleasurable company of like minded women. The importance of which cannot be underestimated. I did worry at one point that I might not make this one, but I am so glad that I did (thank you G for driving me there and thank you Suse for driving me home). Sewjourn is truly a tonic for the spirit.
sewjourn, labour day weekend
Despite being on a shitload of drugs (the new ones and the old ones - urgh), I was quite productive and finished most of the projects I took with me. First up were the yoga pants of doom - that pattern has been torn up never to be used again, for some reason the seam sits on the front leg and it took me ages to get them OK enough to wear. After that, a green drapey cardigan which I wore today and love, a pair of black stretch cotton pants - a new pattern which I am pleased with and will re-draft to be long enough and to sit exactly right in the centre back, a black print cotton top which I am quite pleased with and a liberty cotton top which I think is a little big and mu muish but oh well, vanity and size can be interesting bedfellows. I do love the fabric though. Oh, and a floppy eared bunny and half a pink cat for the school fete. There were a few silly mistakes with my sewing but all in all, I think most of it is pretty wearable. Just as well, because my wardrobe was looking a bit tired.

I didn't take as many photos this time and more than a few of the people photos I took were a little on the blurry side. So, we'll just go with rain and roses, shall we? Although you can see Eleanor and her first attempt at a granny square (I knew she'd be crocheting by the end of the weekend, well done Eleanor), Suse, Stomper, Lisa and Kate in the studio, Kate and her green dress, one of Sue's delightful felt kitty cats, Kate's crochet bedspread which is now at scarf stage (she is doing a fabulous job of joining as she goes) Thank you once again to everyone and an especially big thank you to Suse for doing the lion's share of the organisation.


It seems wrong to launch right into a craft weekend debrief without first pausing to reflect on world events. When we left Melbourne last Friday, the backdrop of news was the escalating unrest in the middle east and the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake. Both of which are still troubling enough. It wasn't until later that evening that I heard of the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Reading the paper on Saturday morning was grim and when I spoke with Gerard on the phone that day, I could hear the news on in the background. It was bad, he said. I went to sleep that night clutching them both in my thoughts. Freshly grateful for what we have.
roses at the table
On Monday night after I returned home, Gerard and Grace went to dinner at a neighbour's house and I unpacked. Afterwards, with the house quiet around me, I read the news online. Caught up. Had a cry. Hard not to really. Better to let it out. Since then I've been trying to balance keeping informed with not feeling overwhelmed. We've talked to Grace about it, just a little, in case she hears about it school. It seems strange that as catastrophe unfolds just across the ocean that we are preparing to go camping. My thoughts have been with those in Japan, those who have lost people near and dear to them, those that have lost their homes, livelihoods and those unable to leave the danger zone. We have also been thinking of the workers trying to control the situation in the nuclear power plants. What a job to have.

a unicorn for today

The weather is warm and windy, with small droplets of rain. I'm on day two of the increased dose of the new drugs. Morning nausea makes me think I might hurl during school assembly, but I don't. Have been hiding away a bit, but have also told a few people that I am on sick leave. Someone joked about me looking (not) peaky and I told them why I was on sick leave. Perhaps I shouldn't have. Being open about the crazy is all very well in theory, but it seems to make people a bit uncomfortable. And I'm just a bit paranoid about that at the moment. It doesn't help that I'm not quite at the stage of making jokes about it, or that I don't feel totally confident of social boundaries yet. Thing is, I want people to make allowances for me, to not totally rely on me, to be understanding if I fuck up or avoid certain things. Just for a while.  Lucky I have this blog, because I can go on all I like here. You guys know that eventually I will write about something else and besides if it's boring you can just skim or look at the pictures. I have appreciated your comments though. Lovely.

Also on the subject of lovely, isn't this unicorn lovely? I found her here this morning.
Yesterday afternoon while Grace had her swimming lesson, I swam ten laps of the big pool. The blue water and the trees in the afternoon sunshine were soothingly beautiful. As I swum I could feel my body stretch out and respond to each breath. Afterwards I had just enough time to float for a while, kind of a swimming pool savasana. I swam the last lap in a slow deliberate breaststroke, concentrating on correct technique and looking at the lovely patterns in the pool.

Today's plan is to write a plan for the rest of the week and to prepare sewing for craft weekend. Some new tops, some pants and a cardigan. I'm tempted to make the tops all from the same pattern. Not sure whether I can be bothered learning a new one. Obviously I also need to plan a realistic number of projects to attempt. I also need to pack a box of woollen fabrics for Betty which I will send by post when the machine comes, as I'm sure that will mean a drive to the post office. I need to also prepare some craft stall sewing for the school fete. I'm not sure these toys are going to be that profitable but I guess you have to start somewhere. Oh and course, there's some washing. Including the cardigan vest I made which I need to be able to wear to craft camp, even if it is 28 degrees. Better get cracking then.

mostly calm and sunny, patches of instability clearing later in the day

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday there was far too much time on public transport. Taking the wrong tram, worried about being late for my appointment. Later, way too much time in the city, forgetting to refer to the (very) short list. Worrying about ringing work to say I won't be in next week either. Worrying about our upcoming holiday which I have been looking forward to. Worrying about taking a new/old medication as well as the one I am on now, as well as the sleeper. Worrying about how long it will be before I can come off the old medication. Worrying. And then with dinner, I take the first lithium tablet and the world doesn't end. Indeed I feel a bit better. It's not as if the new medication would really be working yet but perhaps it's the feeling of a plan starting to form. A wellness plan.  I work on my self-talk and remind myself that I am good at my job, that I will recover. That mostly I don't feel like this. That there are things I can do. Indeed I have a pretty good conversation with my team leader. Of course, work doesn't hate me. It will be OK.
Today I wake a bit too early, thoughts racing and heart pounding but I go back to bed and breathe consciously and eventually sleep some more. When I get up, the sun is shining bright, the sky is blue and my chest doesn't hurt (and mostly doesn't hurt for the rest of the day). After breakfast (and a shitload of pills) my sister Betty rings to say she has sent the little sewing machine (for Grace eventually and as a spare for craft camp) and to expect a parcel next week. We talk and that is good. I spend the rest of the morning working on a stuffed lizard. Last week I asked Grace what I should make for a boy in her class who is turning 7 and she shows me a picture of a creepy rice filled lizard in a book. It is a bit ugly and complicated and Gerard thinks filling a toy that might get wet with rice is not a great idea, but I do have the green felt she insists on. I become obsessed with googling images of real and toy lizards and eventually make my own design. I worry a little bit about giving a boy a soft toy but oh well, that's our present for the moment. Grace pesters me to keep the prototype instead of it going on the craft stall for the school fete and I say yes because really I'm pretty chuffed that she likes the toys I make. At the party in the park I nab the last piece of birthday cake and watch my partner and daughter take turns putting an empty soccer ball pinata on their heads, staggering around with arms outstretched. It's funny and I note to myself that perhaps my sense of humour might be returning. The sky really is impossibly blue.

looking back, looking in

A couple of weekends ago, on the way home from a family outing, we made a strange side journey into my childhood territory and went to see if the house I grew up in was still there. It is. Even though there is no access from Maroondah highway any more. A free way at the top of our street was always on the cards even back in the seventies. What can I say? It was strange; recognisable but different. The light was going and I rushed to find familiar landmarks.The bottom of the court looked much like I remember and I explained to Grace how far up the creek flooded. We walked along the creek a little each way. The path towards Eastlands was quite changed. The other way, although there has obviously been re-vegetation work, the path still looked very familiar. I found the cliff we used to climb, where according to dad, the old antimony mine used to be. The creek looks like it might have been edged with bluestone. We used to dig caves in the soft walls so perhaps that is a good thing. The paddock at the top of the street, the one where we used to build cubby houses that looked like haystacks and hide ourselves inside to light matches, that is gone.

the house I grew up in

The house itself was recognisable. I struggled working out what was the same and what had changed when we were there, but from the photo it's easy to see. There used to be a carport out the front, the room that was our den used to have a glass door and the garden was more leafy. However the gum tree near where the letterbox was is still there, even if the side path is gone. The oak tree we loved to climb is still there but the lower limbs have been removed. And I can make out a line of conifers along the back neighbours fence. Visiting was funny. I think in hindsight, I was possibly on my way to the strange interior place I am in now. Seeing places I once had an intimate physical connection with but are now part of the land of memory and childhood nostalgia is definitely weird. Comforting and unsettling all at once. It's funny too that I see similar scenes in the bushy creeks near here. Maybe that's part of why I am happy that we now live where we do.

the creek where we used to play

Over the last week or so whenever I'm not sure of what to do with myself, I've been going through my old posts and loading photos into blogger. Revisiting my life as the mother of a one year old, recently recovered from a life altering post natal psychosis. I've also been reading past accounts of my various crazy episodes and it seems as though I have been here before. More or less. Which I find quite comforting because although it feels like shit right now, there is evidence that the shittiness won't last. As it is, I am still off work. Last Friday I went to see my psychiatrist and there were tears, she handed me the tissues, wrote copious notes and a certificate for a week. She said the signs point to panic attacks and anxiety and sent me to my GP to rule out other possibilities. Which increased my anxiety somewhat. I finally had an appointment today and my bloodpressure is OK, the ECG was good and the evidence is that the pain is in my chest muscle rather than my heart which apparently is also good. Inasmuch as it means that is the muscles around my chest that hurt. Not my heart. But as I said to the doctor, I never thought that I was having heart problems because if that was the case, surely deep breathing wouldn't help the pain to go away. And that I wouldn't continue being functional. He agreed but said it was better to do the tests and rule it out. I still have to wait for one more blood test result but the signs are good. It just means I have to deal with the cause of the stress/anxiety. Which is kind of everything. Or at least, not one simple thing. Sigh.

I am seeing my psychiatrist tomorrow and it will be interesting to see what she says. I personally think that I am having a minor episode of mania and that the anxiety could be a symptom of that. The episodes seem to change a little each time, which stands to reason because my circumstances are a bit different, the stresses and triggers a bit different, I am a bit different. But anxiety, inability to sleep without help, racing thoughts, lack of concentration, the feeling of being a bit skinless, a degree of obsession and a tendency towards intense irritability all seem to present as symptoms of my mania. This one has, on the whole, been a fairly quiet inward nuttiness, hard to discern from the outside I think. There have been some sessions with my psychiatrist in the last couple of months where I have said that I don't feel quite right, but she has expressed the view that my feelings have been a reasonable response to events around me. Which is what the doctor said in the months leading up to the episode in Christmas 2007/08. Another pattern. Anyway I think this one has come to a head without being as extreme or as disabling as 07/08. Which I think could be the purple pills. And the sleeping pill which is becoming more and more effective as I calm down. Kind of a sedated mania. So yeah, I have yet to clean the house. But I have been sewing. More on that when I get around to taking some photos.

I am hopeful of going back to work next week and getting my life back in its groove.