Tuesday, 16 September 2014

What To Do When People Are Mean.

I don't know how many "haters" I have. I know I'm not everybodys cup of tea lord knows I'm not my own cup of tea most of the time. Mostly I get "lovers" who somewhere, somehow, connect with my words enough to leave exquisite words of their own here. When you write things onto a computer screen and publish them out onto the internet, you automatically open yourself up to public scrutiny. I know this. I'll get raked over the coals every once in a while for the stuff I do or say and usually, mostly I cop it. Sometimes I fight back, but mostly I just ignore hell - a lot of the time I AGREE!

What really helps me is to read out the hurtful things people say about me to my husband Dave. Oh his responses, I wish I could video them. And if my twelve-year old son Max hears the mean stuff people say about me he just laughs, tells me not to worry, tells me something so calm and reassuring and it ALWAYS makes me feel better .

Mostly, I don't care. It's taken years to not care - and I don't mean become as hard as the world we live in, I mean just let the mean words trickle off like a dog pissing on a lamp post. Fine, you've left your mark, I got it. Now the rain and sun will wash away that piss and I can start again. Just because I write on the internet does not make me some untouchable god who should not be disagreed with or even dissed. You can diss me, I can diss you, we all live under the same moon isn't life hard and weird?

But I woke up this morning to an awful email. It's already deleted. It's gone. I'm never reading it again by the end I was just skimming it and I've blocked that IP. (Of course when you block an IP the person can find other ways, but still.) I almost shared the email here in its entirety. An email is different from a blog comment, a tweet, or message left on a "hate" site. An email is PERSONAL and I took it very personally. I wanted to share it out of anger but I also wanted sympathy and the thing is, I already have enough sympathy. I am blessed enough and lucky enough to have friends and strangers alike cheering me on from the sidelines as I go through the horrific, awful emotions and motions of dealing with the death of my brother. Who took his own life. Suicide. Which was exactly what this email was about - my brothers suicide, and how I'm writing about it irresponsibly. (Along with some *spectacular* pointing out of my character flaws, mental health issues, having children and passing on the addiction gene, etc.)

I can cop everything except being accused of writing about suicide irresponsibly. Sure, I don't leave suicide hotline numbers at the bottom of each post. No, I never say "trigger warning" on my "suicide posts." LIFE SHOULD HAVE A TRIGGER WARNING. This world, man. This world is NO place for a child.

The writer of my mean email (and I say mine because I own it, the writer gave it to me like a gift) got exactly what they wanted. And it was a really well-written email. Not one spelling mistake. I was deeply hurt, horrified at my actions, spiralled down into self-doubt and panic and oh my god what have I done?

What have I done? Well, I'm writing my way through what my brother did. I'm documenting one persons process and grief and journey through the most, THE MOST painful period of my life. I do this for many reasons - I'm a personal blogger so this stuff just comes naturally to me now. I do it to purge. To explain. To help. To howl. To expunge my hideous feelings out there into the universe via this strange medium called "the internet."

I keep writing because I keep living and I keep living because I keep writing and I have spent the past eleven months of my life grappling with the darkest stuff in my life and I haven't had a drink or a drug once in that time. I have been honest and open in that time. I have a huge belief that the way we talk about suicide is all wrong, you guys. Because we don't talk about suicide. We're starting to. And that is GREAT. It won't help my brother but it will most definitely help other people. Suicide rates are going up. Why? Why? Cameron took his own life for a lot of different reasons until they all came together in a perfect storm in his heart and his head and his mind and his soul until he got calm, in the eye of his own cyclone and he left us, he left us all here falling onto the grassy ground. Dave may as well build me a wailing wall in the backyard. I am keening. Keen sounds like it's a fun word but it's not, it's not it's an awful word for a thing that you do when you want to die after somebody you love has died.

But I am not dead. I am not finished. I will continue to document this suicide fallout - well, possibly until my gnarled fingers can't type anymore Siri how old will I be when I stop wording?

I am unorthodox and I polarise people and I swear and I am a mouthy, obnoxious, arrogant, selfish, self-centred person AND I DOUBLE DIP AND DRINK THE JUICE STRAIGHT OUT OF THE BOTTLE IN FRONT OF MY KIDS WHO LAUGH AND IT DRIVES MY HUSBAND CRAZY.

I will not be silenced on this I will not. Because I go up and down and around and sometimes I get clarity and think to myself, wow, my words can sometimes help people. And if my words about suicide can help people then that means Camerons suicide can help people and that means Cameron is helping people. To stay. To not do what he did. I get conundrumafied because why make somebody stay when they don't want to? And now I have perfect hindsight of Camerons perfect storm and here I am and there he is and that's all that's left of a beautiful man named Cam. I really know now, deep in my bones, how the people around him throughout his whole life could have helped him more, but also how hard I wished he knew how to help himself. Stigma. Stigma KILLS and blogpost by blogpost, maybe I'm chipping away a little bit at the stigma. Actually I know I am because many, many people have told me.

Jeez I wish I taught Cam how to fish instead of fishing all the fish for him. He'd sit on the riverbank, sad, and I would fish and fish and fish and my hands would be overbearing, overladen with fish that I'd bring back to him and he existed on my fish for a while, for some time. But it doesn't taste as good as when you eat a fish you catch yourself now does it. I keep getting a vision of me and Cam walking through life together and we talked so much about how tired we were. I was tired before he was even born. In a lot of ways, I was not a great role-model for him. Anyway so we're walking together on a path like in a movie and he just has to sit down next to a tree.

"You go on ahead without me, Eed."

And I'm all NO! I am not leaving you! Get up! You can keep going you can! But Dave and my children - all of my children, the ones from my womb and the ones not from my womb - they're all walking on ahead and I need to make a choice. I ran out of water for Cam and there's no fish and he tells me to keep going.

You know I kept going otherwise I wouldn't be writing this and you guys? Something EXTRAORDINARY has happened within the last week. Something so rich and incredible and miraculous. I was going to tell you today but it can wait. What I need to tell you today needs to be said today. And I'm purposely not writing any swearwords in this post so you can show anybody you want without offence.

You need to know that not everybody is going to like you no matter how hard you try. If you are all things to all people then you are nothing to nobody. And when you write or create or show or sing or dance or be or do or even just simply EXIST, then somebody will one day come along and take a gigantic poop on you. And it will smell and feel yucky and it will sting. But remember what happens when a bee stings you. You're left with the stinger and it hurts so you pull the stinger out and it's gone. But that bee? That bee DIES. That bee is designed to die when it stings. I bet that bee tries to sting someone real good, someone worthy of stinging. Imagine a bee accidentally stinging a boring middle-aged white balding dude in Bankstown who has done not one thing with his wild and precious life DANG IT I MEANT TO STING GANDHI THAT GUY IS SO FULL OF HIMSELF WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS.

Who does he think he is? Who do you think you are? Who do I think I am? How dare we be bold. How dare we be ourselves, tell the truth, laugh, be happy. When I showed my six year old son Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell doing Tight Pants I watched his face because I take great joy in watching my children laugh. First thing he said to me, deadpan:

"He's not even embarrassed mum."


The word "troll" has been both misused and overused for years now, but sometimes (thankfully for me not a lot of the time) it is a very, very applicable word. These days, faceless and nameless trolls sit underneath the bridge of the information superhighway and they're cranky. They don't want you to pass. Don't stop. Keep going. They're not the boss of you and how very ironic that the email I received this morning in regards to me writing about suicide belongs to a particular form of trolling that, you know, can actually cause suicide.

So today I'm off to my GP again, to get the results of my ECG because my heart rate is double it should be. Because my anxiety is off the roof, it's like I'm back with my brother a year ago, walking next to him, silently watching him go through all of the motions and things he did in the lead-up to his death. Then I'm going to come home and meet Dave here because we're getting photographed for the newspaper. When people see the photo in the paper they won't know all of the things going on beneath my skin, inside me. We've all got our stuff.

Please watch this magnificent thing below. Show it to your friends, your family, but especially any children present in your life. They're going to need it. 

(Thank you Manda for sharing it on my Facebook wall today, you changed my whole morning!)

Conclusion: What do you do when people are mean? Don't be mean back. After the dog wee washes off and the stinger comes out, you can get back to being the very same thing that a few (only a few) people will hate you for being:

You. They will hate you for being you. So make sure you be the best, strongest, boldest you that only you can be. The biggest revenge is living well. Fuck those guys.

PS Sorry I did swear but it was just once and it was CALLED FOR. So - how do you deal with meanies?

PPS (There is a link in my sidebar to the Black Dog Institute.)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Spoken Word Will Take Over The World.

"Not many human beings left anymore plenty of human lingerings.
Instead of trying' to change others we can change ourselves
we can change our hearts
we been sold lies
Love is the most powerful weapon on the face of the earth
So yes, the world is coming to an end."

(Thank you to my soulsister Alexandra for sharing this with me.)

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Every Breaking Wave

I got to a point where I thought I could never possibly write this. But I can. So I did.

Last night I dreamt all Cams possessions were for sale, in a sad shop. Family were there, backs turned. It's ok. I turned my back first. I have to survive.

Cam told me that he was just going to take two weeks off work but he and I both knew he was going to die. We were both sad. He was so tired. There's big things happening inside me this week, all of this hard griefwork is coming to a crescendo. I can see some new beginnings from here, which is great but hard and exciting and sad because I never want to let him go.

But I did, you know. I let him go. I loved him so much I let him go.

"You cannot save people, you can only love them." I think I'll always wish I could have done more, that last weekend he was alive in October.

Note to self: texts cannot save somebody.

Cam always said he wished he was alive in the bygone eras, when men were men.

Oh god just looking at those photos. He's so familiar. I know every trace of his face. He travelled. He lived. He loved. He laughed. He cried. He died. Being human is excruciating. I was eight years old and on a lunchtime detention when my grandmother came to school to tell me my baby brother Cameron had been born. Thirty-three years later I was reading with my son when I got the phone call to say my baby brother Cameron had died. I put myself on detention the day he died, but no more. I keep waiting for the grief to go but it's never going to go because my love for Cam can never go, Bono told me that just this week.

I would sit with Cam and he'd tell me the pain and the struggle and I would tell him it would be ok, that the only reason I came good is because I hooked up with Dave and had kids and one day you will do that, you will find reasons to stay! Then you will be trapped here!

I thought because I'd overcome certain stuff that he would too. I knew he was in pain but I thought he would be burnt and then come out the other side and grow and learn and get strong, regardless of his abandonment and struggle and that brain that wanted to kill him. How many times did I tell him to open his heart, wait for the joy and the magic? But what do I know.

"Cam I used to live in brothels! You can get through hard shit!" But not everybody makes it through, Eden, dummy. How do you come to terms with a suicide without agreeing with the suicide? I loved Cam so much I let him go. I let him go. I loved a person hard for thirty-three years straight from his birth to his death. I can honour him by continuing to live on regardless of the pain and if reincarnation exists? I want to be reincarnated as Camerons mother, consider this a request form, Universe.

And now I have to let him go again, for any chance of me to make it through this period alive I have to let him go and when I let him go I get to take him with me, see? Sea? I woke up with U2s new lyrics in my head:

"Like every broken wave on the shore
This is as far as I could reach."

It was as far as he could reach. I got an email from a woman called Danielle who's been reading me for years to say she'd just realised her partner J was an old boyfriend of mine in the eighties. True! And she had a Cam story for me, told me that if it were her brother, she'd love to know any story no matter how small. Oh Danielle was so right! She wrote:

"The story about Cameron is a just a quick, cute story about a little boy who watched Rocky III with J and at the end when Rocky and Mr T have a fight, Rocky beats Mr T. J told me little Cameron burst into tears and was so upset because no one is supposed to beat Mr T!"

The last time I saw Cam I was like, "Hey do you remember how much you LOVED Mr T?" He couldn't remember! I was all, dude that guy was your HERO. It's so important to have heroes. After reading Danielles email I pictured Cam crumpled on the floor, devastated that Mr T got beat. Why is that so different to me crumpled on the floor, devastated that Cam got beat? His little four-year old heart just as broken as mine, now.

We all gotst to die someday, of something. Pain is pain is pain, to all of us. None of us get through life unscathed. I'm learning - with a therapist who I adore - exactly why I am so annihilated. Why these "strong feelings" are so devastating. If I'd grown up in an intact family with enough love, and then my brother had died in a car accident, I'd be grieving differently. But this is the way that I am grieving and it needs to be grieved like this for any chance for me to keep living. Every single day of my life I have woken up in panic and fear. Every day. My Cam leaving has broken me but Buddy Wakefield says that hearts don't break if they did he'd have confetti by now. Buddy says hearts bruise and get better.

Cam did not and could not stay around for his heart to get better. But I can. The other day, just when I was on the brink, three HUGE things happened all in one day, boom. Bang. That's how the world works and I was all, FUCK you Universe for making me stay again! I have never been so faithless. It has been terrifying.

So there's me yesterday, after filming a video down in Sydney after waking up not thinking I could get through another day. There's me, grieving out loud, balancing all my blog posts so they're not all dark and that's been hard when everything has been so dark. Cam let his light go out, goodnight my Cam and I hope you sleep tight and visit me from the underworld if the underworld exists and I let you go, remember? I told you on the phone I let you go but only because it was the thing you wanted so badly and you knew I loved you so much, you knew.

So there's Cam somewhere in Ireland I wish I knew where, writing his name in a spot that no other motherfucker can ever write it in just like Anis says. Cam was here, motherfuckers.

I'm still here. I'm forming a new life with and without my brother and I need tidbits, pieces of him, little precious stories to patchwork my sails so they soar, see. It's a see-saw he was seen, he was sore.

So, beautiful reader of this thing called a "blog" - yeah you right now. I see you just as much as you see me I feel your secrets as much as I openly tell you mine I know you're there I can hear you breathing. Some of you might even be reading these words in ten years time just after somebody you love has died maybe suicided and I want you to know that it gets better. Then it gets worse. Then it gets different. Keep moving. Keep moving - to the shops, to the kettle, to the couch, to Africa.

The world wants you to listen to this because god knows you've got shit going on in your own life that could do with some soothing balm. And not balm that costs twenty dollars sign up buy this. Balm as in words and experiences and feelings and remember what it is to just be human. That's it. That's all it's ever been.

Cam, we were never tragedies. We were emergencies, motherfucker. I'm here in griefland and thank you for the lessons. Step into this. I'm rebooting myself now just like that. You're not my troubles anymore but I'll always be the big sister so I'm still the boss - you can be Braveheart and I'll be Greenheart because man my heart just exploded the other day when I realised some things about your death and all this greenery just grew from the burnt trees. I'm about to have a fantastic time. Come with me, dead brother. I said I'd do it for the both of us and I am a woman of my word. Especially when it comes to you, always when it comes to you I was older but you always came first. Thank you for teaching me what it feels to love. Don't ever stop teaching me. I cried to my therapist last week "I should have needed him more!" 

I need you. I need you to help me finish my life triumphantly. Triumph. Now there's a fucking word.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Just A Nice, Friendly Game Of "Guess Who?" Or As We Like to Call It, Sexist Racial Profiling.

My son BEGGED me to buy him a game of Guess Who. At thirty bucks, it wasn't cheap. But when he came home with TWO merit awards in two consecutive weeks, a reward was definitely in order. This guy tries so hard at everything he does! He obviously got that from his dad, I'm a completely half-arsed kind of person. My very first sponsor in recovery told me that if a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing badly. I love my recovery people.

So we played Guess Who. I remember way back in the eighties when it first came back and I'd play it with Cam, it was one of his favourites. However, after about the seventeenth game with my son, I noticed something.

Harmless and cute, huh? NOT REALLY. Because when you actually play the game and look at all of the different people, check out the "diversity."

There are just five women, out of twenty-four people. Two of those women have crazy hats on, two have glasses, with just Megan left being discreet. Because quickly, both Rocco and I realised that to win the game, you choose a character as discreet as possible. Invisible - somebody who you wouldn't give a second glance too, walking down the street.

There are five people of colour in the game - no Asian people, no Indian people, no Arabic or other various ethnicities I can think of. And it is so, so disconcerting when you're sitting down with your kid and he says,

"Mum are you black?"


"Um, yes."

And when the other person knows you have chosen a person of colour, or a female, or a person with glasses - snap snap snap go down all of the other players and you're just left there hanging with your balls swaying gently in the breeze, with all your identifying characteristics. So the next time you play? You choose somebody nice and beige. See Matt up there? If you choose Matt, you're likely to win. Matt wins the game because he's an older white man who is most likely a banker or a politician. Matt's probably a millionaire. Matt would never get shot at by the police if he's already down on the ground with his hands in the air, he'd most likely never be date-raped if he had a few drinks. I sincerely doubt that Matt has ever mopped the kitchen floors of a fast-food outlet.

I hate Guess Who, but I keep playing it because my kid loves it. But he got so used to the both of us picking invisible, hard-to-guess characters that I'd start picking people like Sarah just to fuck him up.

Or as I like to call her, Oprah Winfrey. When I picked her, Rocco did not even guess for a second who I was because how could a woman of colour win the whole game?

There were a few uncomfortable conversations, because when Rocco asked if I was black after I'd chosen Tyler, I didn't know what to say.

Tyler looks Mexican and my first thought was, "Man I bet Tyler could make a mean burrito." And then my brain said "DON'T BE RACIST" and I was all, "I'm NOT I just like Mexican food! Shit am I a racist? Jesus Eden, Tyler could be a banker too." And he could, people of all walks of life can achieve things. I was confused, wrestling with myself, and hungry.

Again Rocco asked if I was black so I said yes but in the end he flipped me down because he didn't classify Tyler as being black but I did so we had to have an official agreeance upon who was black and who wasn't.

Am I supposed to teach my kid to say "coloured" instead of "black?" Just the word "black" seems insulting, derogatory, and really triggers my white white guilt. In 1977 I was five years old and spent a year living and going to school in Fiji. There were only a few white kids in my class. I was so white that the other kids would call me "pinky."

So. This game. Do not even get me started on Chris. Chris looks like a drug dealer who wears dirty jeans and still lives with his mum. This game turns me into a judgemental monster.

Rocco asked if I had a moustache and I said yes but it turns out that Chris does NOT have a moustache so I won the game and Rocco was so mad and I said mate, if you can't play this game properly you can go to your bedroom. And he was seething, told me to look closer so I did - and Chris does not actually have a moustache, it's just the shadow of his nose.


But we keep playing, and Max plays too sometimes so we had to clue him in on who was black, who was white, who was in-between and that Chris does NOT have a moustache.

I snapped the first photo up the top of this post quickly before school this morning, told Rocco I needed to take a photo of him pretending to play the game because I wanted to write about it today.

"Why do you want to write about it mum?"

"Because it makes me cranky."


"Because there's hardly any girls on there sweetheart. And not many ... different people. You know how when we go to Sydney, the streets are full of different people? I think the game should be more like that."

Rocco counted up the girls, and realised consciously how few there were. He said that he liked different people. I said I liked different people too, I told him that a lot of people have a good life by standing out.

"You don't always have to blend in."

He nodded sagely, eating Nutella straight from the jar.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Each Suicide A Suicide Bomber.

There are people all around the world, every day, quietly taking their own lives. It's their final option, the forever decision. Whether they do it because of pain, anger, futility, depression, financial troubles, relationship issues .... they do it. They do it every day. Count up the number of suicides in one day and multiply that number by a thousand. I reckon one suicide would deeply affect about a thousand people. I've a firm belief that the people ending their own lives do not, can not know how deeply and awfully their final action will resonate, hurt, annihilate the people who love them. They are all suicide bombers, strapping on invisible backpacks of nails and bullets and shrapnel and when they jump off that cliff or breathe in that gas or tie that noose .... the backpack explodes, showering the people who love them with a pain etched forever into their hearts. Our hearts. My heart.

My brothers suicide has left me disfigured forever. I am currently experiencing the worst, most awful feelings of a deep loss and pain so profoundly impacting I do not even have the words to describe. Every day since October 15 2013, I have woken up in the morning, bleary eyed "No not another day something bad has happened BAM. Your brother is dead." And then my psyche barks, "SCALPEL."

And I perform Camerons autopsy to find the cause of death, over and over and over again. And over. And over. I don't even get paid for this shit. Grieving is all-encompassing. It is exhausting. And I am tired. So are my sons and husband. We are tired from this. My brain will not stop its futile search and rescue operation.

"He should have gotten help he never got help why didn't he get help? The help probably wouldn't have done much anyway why couldn't he just have kept going? I kept going? Why do I keep going? There is no point in keeping going. Life is meaningless. He should have kept living anyway nothing means anything Cam where are you?"

And my Cam is nowhere to be found. My Cam is gone. I was standing very close to him when he departed so I've been hit pretty badly. I was complicit in his death, see. He begged me on the phone, a few weeks before he died. I have talked him away from death so many times in our lives, so many times. I would tell him how suicidal I was too. And I was, am. I'm all suicidy and I can't wash it off. He made me promise that if he did it, I was to fight anyone who tried to hold a funeral for him. And he did it so I made sure there was no funeral. But now, I need your funeral, brother. And it's too late. And I wished I had done more, told you I needed you more, fixed you more.

It's really, really hard to fix somebody when you're a bit too broken yourself.

I feel like I aided and abetted his suicide, because I understood so well why he would want to go. He struggled with this whole "life" business, so hard. It's a hard life, I look at my children and I just think oh you guys, I'm so sorry I brought you into such a crappy world. They have no idea how hideous and intense and awful the world can make a person feel. No idea.

I have a feeling of a tidal wave forming, of a richer and more substantial dialogue on suicide. Which is great! But too late, for my brother. I see a video of beautifully groomed celebrities talking about how we must just hold on I want to reach through my screen and muss up their hair, swear at them a bit. Unless you have personal experience of suicide, you do not get to speak for me. I've been called "the suicide expert" by somebody online being nasty, who didn't mean it in a nice way. I happen to agree with you, motherfucker. I AM a suicide expert!

Last week I told my therapist that the only, ONLY times I have felt any semblance of feeling ok about my brother not being in the world anymore is when I'm driving in my car next to some railway tracks and there's a coal train travelling in the same direction as me. When it happened, man. I just exhaled for the first time since that awful Tuesday last year and for 0.04 of a second I was ok with my brothers death. It's happened a few times since, and I've felt that same teeny, tiny smidge of peace.

Once it happened with Max next to me in the car so I asked him to take a photo and he didn't even ask why. We are kindreds. 

There are trees that exist in the Scottish highlands that are balanced precariously on the edges of cliffs and all they need is a few drops, a few centimetres of water each year to survive. Gimme a smidgen of hope and I can make it last for weeks, months, years. I read recently that "strong storms make oak trees dig their roots in further."

The thing that confuses me the most is that I am alive and my brother is dead and we were both so similar. He wrote in his suicide note to me: "Eden, you're the strongest one out of all of us!"

I highly disagree, it's just - maybe I dug my roots in further? Cam told me in the last year of his life that he'd like to build his own house one day and now I think what an utter tragedy it is that he can never build his own house. He didn't know how to lay the foundations. He tried. But nobody taught him properly, he couldn't teach himself he was so arrogant, stubborn and now dead. Will never realise his potential.

My therapist and I could not quite work out why I feel a sliver of peace when I drive in the same direction as a coal train. Maybe it's because I used to read a big purple hardcover book by Richard Scarry called "Cars and Trucks and Things That Go" to my brother so often when he was little that the cover almost wore off. Everybody was always so BUSY, in that book. They had places to go, people to see. They had PURPOSE. And Goldbug would be hiding on every page and before I even turned the page my little brother, my little blonde-haired delightful guy who I now see in my children .... he'd sit there waiting with his finger pointed, ready to find Goldbug before I did.

I always let him find Goldbug first. I always gave him the prawns from my fried rice. I always listened to him, always tried to make him feel worthwhile and valued and important and beautiful and clever because it was all true. It was all true.

Buddy Wakefield says that the moon does not have to be full for us to love it. Cam, you did not have to be whole for us to love you. You didn't have to be anything other than who you were. You didn't like who you were. I wish you knew you were enough. I wish you kept going - for YOU, not for me or for anybody else. I wish you weren't in so much pain. I wish I wasn't in so much pain. I understand why you left. I hope that when you spoke to me on those last phone calls, my understanding and empathy of where you were and how you felt - bro I hope it gave you comfort. But god help me I wish you knew how much I didn't want you to go. I'm so sorry my Bam-Bam. I fucked up. I would've done it all differently I DEMAND a do-over you would still be alive and be able to grow and evolve and know that you are enough and worth enough, to stay.

So, to all of the suicidal people who are reading this right now, I'm sorry but I cannot save you. My success rate in saving people is pretty bad. If it's any consolation I have felt suicidal on and off for my entire life and I still stay, still stay. And I know how hard it is and I'm with you in spirit.

I'm going to wash my face and walk outside and read a piece out that I wrote just last week, when the grief became so much I couldn't get out of bed. I read it out to my therapist that same day, and for once, he couldn't look at me and he couldn't speak and it's usually the other way around. This goes out to all of my grievers today on this World Suicide Prevention Day. What is suicide, what is suicide prevention? I think it all boils down to how hard it is to be a human in the world, and how much better we feel when we can connect with something, somebody - anything. This searingly honest piece on the suicide of Robin Williams is just extraordinary. THIS is what we need to hear, to read.

So here is my thing that I'll read out exactly how I wrote it, didn't even edit one word, the ink just streamed from my pen and the words fell just so and this is not for any poetry competition. (Stop being so fucking competitive WORLD.) I didn't even use ink! I used my computer but that's magic for you, magic that my brother never believed in and now I'm not so sure myself anymore but I'm still here and that's just gotta mean something.

This is for you, whoever you are, and whoever might need to see it. Please excuse me reading it out from the page - I don't have the energy to memorise it right now. I'm sitting in the exact same place my brother sat for four hours on fathers day last year and we talked and talked and talked and he left and the next time I saw him was in the morgue, all spongey. I miss my confidante. I can't be who I was with him to anybody else in the whole world. I miss how he made me feel. I miss who he could have been. Most of all I just miss who he was.


PS A beautiful woman called Joy (what a name!) emailed me last week about THIS - a gathering at the Sydney Opera House tomorrow for all those who have been touched and bereaved by suicide. And it's held out in the open - with people walking past! OUT IN THE OPEN NOT HIDDEN. I can't go. It'll take me two hours to drive down, seventy bucks to park my car, the grieve grieve cry and you know what's on tomorrow night? A school disco for my six-year old son. He's never been to a school disco yet, missed it last year because I was too broken to take him because grief steals so much! So I won't be there tomorrow, I'll be watching my son go nuts at the school disco instead. Tomorrow is too close to home to honour my brother in public. Maybe next year I'll go.


PPPS In summation, it's hard and selfish to want people to stay in the world "for us" when they are in so much pain and death is often the most obvious choice but suicide should not be the only option. We need grassroots shit to happen. We need community. We need entire shifts in how we view "mental health." New words. New beginnings, to make up for the awful endings. We need kid-friendly music festivals and cupcakes and real. The world news more real and I will kick more real into it if it's the last thing I ever do.

PPPPS Kicking more real into the world will, indeed, be the last thing I ever do.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

How Swallowing Down A Dollar Coin Taught Him To Speak Up.

Last Friday night, Rocco couldn't wait for the the pizza to be delivered and ate a dollar coin. He ran to me, crying.

"I was just playing with it in my mouth mum! It accidentally swallowed down I can feel it going down!"

I panicked a bit - he's only six years old and not a particularly big guy (yet) and a dollar coin is pretty big. Took the situation straight to my facebook because I KNEW he wouldn't be the first kid to have done this. So many responses - most of them quite hilarious. People told me to call the 24hr medical helpline and I did. (It's 1800 022 222 you're welcome.) A lovely registered nurse took down all the information, opened up a confidential file for Rocco, told me that because he's drinking and eating ok then his oesophagus is fine but I need to take him to see a doctor within the next 24 hours.

So the next morning I took both kids to the bookshop first to buy a book for the long wait ahead at our local hospital but they didn't get a chance to look at the first page, there was NOBODY else in the waiting room and we saw a doctor straight away!

The doctor was hilarious, very straight-forward.

"Rocco. Why would you eat a coin? Open your mouth is it still in there? What do you want to be when you grow up?"

The doctor was prodding and pushing, gently. Rocco gave Max's answer, like he always does.

"A scientist."

The doctor LOVED this answer.

"Oooh, there's a lot of different scientists, which one would you like to be?"

And every time he turned Rocco around, he told him a different type of scientist.

"Biologist. Radiologist. Geneticist. Rocco your fingernails are very dirty! You can become an astronomer. Physicist. Engineer. Mum I think the coin should be working its way down, we don't really need to do an x-ray. Unless you want to do an x-ray?"

Who was I to ask for an x-ray if it wasn't needed? So we thanked him, took our new books, and left.

On Sunday morning Rocco woke up dry-retching, with bad tummy pains. Dave said he was probably fine, the dollar coin was just working its way through. I went to a meeting, wondering if Rocco would suddenly get the coin lodged somewhere and just die. That could happen. People just die, every day.

"He's fine hon! Look at him!" Rocco was jumping on the trampoline, yelling at Opie, not a care in the world.

Then yesterday he had tummy pains again, looked tired and withdrawn but went to school anyway. Even after I told him he could stay home with me. I told the teacher about the dollar coin in my sons body. I told the school office about the dollar coin inside my sons body.

There was a dollar coin inside my sons body.

When I picked him up from school, I took him back to the hospital. I knew it would probably come out in his next poo ... but I needed the x-ray for me. I can't handle any extra angst and worry in life right now. What if it was stuck? The nurses remembered him.

"Hello Rocco! Still in there huh? Do you jingle when you walk?"

We waited a little bit longer than we did on Saturday, but not much. How lucky we are to live in a country where you just waltz into a building and get medical help whenever we need. This time we saw a different doctor. He wasn't a nice doctor. Impatient, annoyed, and when Rocco was lying on the examination table the doctor reefed his tracksuit pants down to his thighs and barked.

"Just checking your groin."

I was pissed off. Rocco was - confused. As we were walking to x-ray, he just looked up at me with his little blue eyes.

"Mum, WHY did that doctor do that to my grine? What even IS a grine?"

I knelt down. I've knelt down a lot over the years, to get down onto my children's level. I have a real issue when my kids get treated with disrespect, disdain, or inequality. The power that adults have over little children is HUGE. And some of us know more than others how incredibly damaging that can be.

"Sweetheart, it's called your groin. The doctor had to check it because ... well I think he needed to try feel if you were swollen, from eating the coin. But he should have asked you properly first and I'm sorry he didn't. Would you like me to say something to him?"

Rocco said yes. "I didn't like how he did that."

I agreed. Two weeks ago I got a pap smear and before the lady even came near me with anything, she told me exactly where she was going to touch me, what she was going to do, what it would feel like, and how long it would take. It was extraordinary. It was my first pap smear in SEVEN years, and I suddenly blurted out to her that the last one I had had left me feeling ... creeped out. Hence the seven-year wait.

So still on my haunches in the empty corridor, I explained to Rocco exactly what was going to happen.

"Rocco, this is exactly what's going to happen. We're going to walk into the x-ray room and you're going to get an x-ray, which is pretty cool! Then we'll go back to the waiting room and we're going to see that doctor again. After he tells us where the coin is, and after I take a photo for you, I'm going to tell him how you felt, ok?"

"Ok mum - do I need to wear special goggles to get an x-ray?"

I laughed, no my sweetheart you don't.

He got his x-ray.

I had to wait at the door! He is so little. He is just so little, in the world.

The x-ray technician was so wonderful, and very solemnly told Rocco that the dollar coin he ate? It might have already been eaten by another kid, may have already come out of another kids bum.  It's pretty safe to say that Rocco will never eat another coin again.

We walked back into the waiting room and hardly waited at all - again, so lucky. The cranky groin doctor ushered us in, told us that yes there WAS a coin inside Rocco, currently sitting inside his bowel and would most likely come out in his next poo. I asked to see the x-ray - I needed to see it, for my own state of mind.

So there it is. We gazed at it in a kind of awe.

I expected a circle but it was a flat disc, slowly making its way through my youngest childs digestive tract. I got the photo. We had everything we needed and I was incredibly grateful and relieved. But I am a woman of my word, especially when it comes to my children.

I spoke matter-of-factly, looking right into his eyes, with other doctors and nurses in our immediate vicinity.

"Ok so, thank you so much. But I just want to say - you know when you checked Roccos groin? You just reefed his daks down without explanation or warning. And he didn't like it. Maybe next time you can warn the patient, before you do that."

Speaking up for ourselves is important. Speaking up for people who can't speak up for themselves is even more important. (If I had a time machine I'd travel back in time to when I was a little girl, painfully shy, with no voice. And I would shout back.)

The doctor was shocked, blustered something I don't know what. I just thanked him one last time, took my sons hand and we walked out of the hospital. I told him that when people make him feel funny or weird or sad, he has to speak up.

So. The coin is STILL in there!! But do you know what today is? Tuesday. Otherwise known around these parts as show and tell day. Usually Rocco grabs something last minute off the shelf but today I told him to wait by the printer.


I am so, so not the best mum in the world. The best mum in the world wouldn't send their kid off to school in a Guns and Roses hoodie because she's behind in the washing. The best mum in the world would have read all the "talking to your children about grief" literature by now. The best mum in the world didn't vacuum the breadboard that time when she was SO DAMN SICK OF OTHER PEOPLES CRUMBS. The best mum in the world doesn't let her children listen to Eminem, doesn't yell at her kids so hard in the car the reverberating echo hurts her OWN ears, doesn't need to psyche herself up just to walk inside the school to collect her children.

There is no "best mum in the world." That beast does not exist. But I can be the most ridiculous, the realest, the illest, the most-fucked-up-but-keep-going-anyway mum in the world. I can take the advice I give to my kids, drink my own goddamn medicine down and try to believe it.

"Just do your best. That's all I'm asking for. Just try."

(Siri, what is "groin?")

Friday, 5 September 2014

Let's Never Try This Again.

Last night Max and I were curled up on the couch spending some quality time together - nose-first in our computers. I tut-tutted crankily about something and he turns to me with that beautiful face I know so well. "What, mum?"

So I told him.

"Well, there's a new Spider Woman comic and the image of her is so, so offensive and disgusting and it just makes me so mad that you're twelve years old and already your head has been filled with graphic sexualised imagery of women fed to you by our society and our culture. It's a load of crap."

He asked to see it and I showed him - but I didn't just show him the image by itself, I showed him the image next to an image an artist from The Oatmeal has drawn to illustrate how SpiderMAN would be drawn in the same way.

Am I slut-shaming a comic? Siri, what is feminism?

Max was just as horrified as me at the first image, and man we both laughed at the second one. Especially when I zoomed in.

We talked about double standards. I told Max that as he grows up, I want him to respect women. That he might be surrounded by all this crap but he is ALSO surrounded by a mother who is also a woman who is also quite tough and will tell him continuously that women are more than their boobs and bums. And that sometimes he might be at a party and a girl might be so drunk that a guy might take advantage of her but I want him to be the guy who calls a cab and gets her home safely, even if she gets into trouble with her parents.

"I will, mum."

Then I made him follow The Oatmeal on Instagram because come on.

We both bid each other good night and our bedrooms are partitioned by just one wall and I kept shouting out "MAX IT'S SO ITCHY" until he was all, "Will you shut UP MUM!"

Dave has been up at the Central Coast all week but is back tomorrow. So I had to text him a photo last night to prove that I am feeding the kids vegetables while he is away, so known am I for my bachelor ways. I had a grumble to him about Fathers Day and its associated bullshit for me, told him I am going to make him something yummy for dinner and the whole day is just about HIM. He took it one step further.

"Hon, I think we should re-name it .... call it Davo's Day."

YES. So, happy Davo's Day for this weekend for the dads. Fathers Day doesn't quite have the trite bullshit sentimentality as Mothers Day but it comes close. Fuck it to hell, is what I say.

Dave and Max, circa 2004

A brand-new reader here called "Gigglesfollow" left a link on my last post to a YouTube video because she already knows how much I love eating burgers. GOOD burgers. I did a little digging from her video and unearthed this. THIS is how I feel every time I eat a good burger.

  "I WISH YOU COULD SMELL WHAT I'M SMELLIN', YOU TUBE. Peep game, on the fry. Let's hone in, on the crispedy crunch - of that french fry. You bite the fry, the fry bites back. THAT'S when you know you have an official french fry!"

Four minutes and fifteen seconds in - right there. Right there. And then: "Do you want to know the difference ... between a weak burger, and a burger that has strength?"

This post is all a mask for how I'm truly feeling, because how I'm truly feeling is so boring and relentless and I just need to laugh. I desperately need to laugh, do you? As we head into a weekend I could do without .... what's your favourite go-to funny video? Hit me up. I know there are some pearlers out there that we all need to see. I'll go first in the comments, with a video that is in my top-five favourite funny videos of all time.


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