Category Archives: mental health

And Liptember is OVER!

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So, Liptember is over for another year, and I’m happy that I met my fundraising target, and that I wore lipstick every day, and I tried a few new things, but I’m also tired. Why tired? Well because people around me are. Because while it’s fun to do fundraisers, it’s hard seeing people around you not being supported with their mental health. People accessing all they can – the Medicare rebated psych sessions, medications, GP visits – but that not being enough to make any headway. My sister will feel I’m calling her out with this, and while I am, it’s also half my Twitter feed and a bunch of my Facebook family and friends. They do what they need to to tread water, they maintain, they get things done, they keep on being alive, they keep doing the appointments they have to, to work days, the welfare obligations. But they don’t really get ahead.

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I’m certainly not ahead either, myself, I just managed to get myself to a point where I could convince the government that they were better off giving me DSP that trying to get me into a job that I might just throw away at the first sign of trouble. I had the privilege of being able to front up the cash for private psych and OT, to be able to get into the therapy program that made a difference but wouldn’t “fix” me, to get the reports from the private OT that got me over the line for DSP. So that now I can jump in and out of the real world as I see see fit with a safety net of not losing my DSP backup because I tried and failed at something.

I’m not yet at the point of wanted to do paid external work, but I’m participating more outside myself – I’m more involved with my local Greens’ group and the events and meetings they have, I’m more active online, I’m experimenting with more social media avenues and with Twitch streaming. I’m dabbling around to try and find what I like, and hopefully being useful in the meantime. I’m doing my e-girl and activist things and I really like that. Those things excite me, being online, trying to make a difference, either together or separate, but also just figuring out me.

While also being able to be there for my partner and my sister and their kids. Helping my stepkid get into the right therapy, taking my nephew and niece to appointments, babysitting the little ones, being a sounding board for my sister, making my partner lunch and dinner and keeping  a clean and ordered house so we can relax together in the evenings. Playing with my dog, getting the kids used to a dog. Helping the children learn to be themselves and grow and explore their lives.

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I’m doing what I can and mostly what I want to do and while I’m tired, I like it. I like me.

You can still donate til the 15th for my Liptember, and I’ll wear the lippy of your choice one day 🙂 I still don’t have yellow and threw out a few over the month, but there’s still way too many to choose from.

Liptember 2022 – Halfway There!

Oh my, it’s halfway through September already and I’m only coming in to write an actual blog post about Liptember today. Liptember raises money for Women’s mental health services, resources and research, while a bunch of awesome people wear lippy each done and say hey sponsor me and my pretty lips! 

I’ve managed to do colours each day, not skipped one yet! If you want to donate to my page, it’s liptember.com.au/phonakins and you can choose the colour I wear one of the days left this month, I’ll be in touch to ask! 

Pucker up! 

I made it! I Turned Forty!

OMG how did I make it through my 30s? It really wasn’t looking too optimistic there for awhile.

So, here’s a birthday photo dump, and some rambling and thought and whatever it may be.

Firstly, I got some AMAZING new cat ears handmade, hand felted, by Suzanne aka Satan Herself. She’s a wonderful Twitter friend who is trying to get herself out of the clutches of Centrelink by starting a felting art business, making all sorts of clothing and bits and pieces and SHOES and HATS and cat ears now. These are her prototype ears, and I LOVE them and will pimp them to death when she gets her shop set up!

a woman with purple hair, cat ears and glasses holding a glass of sparkling wine. She has a purple dress with chickens

I drank this lovely de-alcoholised Brown Brothers Prosecco I’d purchased from Sans Drinks for election night (but the order arrived a week after!). Lovely and light on the tongue, didn’t interfere with the Antabuse tablets either 🙂 Party!

Speaking of Antabuse, I stuck to my regular Friday morning routine, collecting OzHarvest fresh fruit and veg and assorted breads from the food bank to share with my sister – I’m glad I can eat gluten these days! There was also a bag of pies and sandwiches and the like. More importantly though, I’ve not had alcohol since Feb 2021, so I’m on a 17 month streak, with some good sober time over the last three and a half years. It feels good, and sobriety is working well for me. I get to be more useful and reliable and present and so on. It’s great. I have to say I’m looking forward to life and things again. Even without “real” red wine.

Bruce and I went to dinner at Mizumi (which I now know means “Lake”) here in Toronto. We ordered the usual takoyaki, and went for the Mizumi sashimi platter. OMG that was amazing! Fresh and tasty and noms. Only problem was that I prefer my sashimi after it’s warmed up a little, and this came as a ice basket as you’ll see in the photo. But AMAZING nonetheless.

How good is that?

(yes, I booked under Sienna, yes it’s because I phoned up and couldn’t be bothered correcting her when she said it back to me. Often get Sienna)

Another birthday present I got was the new phone I’ve been using for a month now. The Xiaomi 11 Lite 5GNE (that’s a lot of terms). Bruce ordered it for me at a super awesome price and I’ve been getting used to it, but here’s the first night mode photo I’ve taken because I’m slack and didn’t use the function til he nagged me the other night:

The beauty of Toronto Boulevarde by night…

So I had a lovely birthday, out in the real world. Plus, I also had a bit of a party on my Animal Crossing island!

My friend code for switch is SW-0541-2956-7407. Add me and come to my next shindig!

Saturday was my birthday party – lollies and cake and kids in the backyard 🙂 Such fun! Got a new Fitbit from my parents, the old one had a crack screen after 7 years, it was time. Spent the last of a few giftcards I had at woolies on lollies hehe

Still working our way through the cake – a $30 buy from Costco, with fluffy chocolate and rainbow icing!

Some of you internet sweethearts have spoiled me too with items from my wishlist and gift cards and birthday money through PayPal and buymeacoffee. Thank you so very much! I got the bread knife I needed and Diet Coke is always appreciated.

I have some onesies on the way from onesies downunder and a Shein order full of Care Bears stuff!!!

Thank you all for celebrating with me 💜

It’s been a week

Sometimes it’s not my story to tell, but I can share some of my feelpinions. I know my push for my sister to stay a couple of nights at the hospital may have caused different troubles, but I do believe that the time out and the more pressing need to make changes to how we all work with and around her to support her and her family are good things. It brings things to the surface, out in the open, to be discussed and people can do better.

I’ve learned to really like the assumptions of DBT

1. People are doing the best they can.
All people at any given point in time are doing the best they can.
2. People want to improve.
The common characteristic of all people is that they want to improve their lives and be happy.
3. People need to do better, try harder, and be more motivated to change.
The fact that people are doing the best they can, and want to do even better, does not mean
that these things are enough to solve the problem.
4. People may not have caused all of our own problems, but they have to solve them
anyway.
People have to change their own behavioural responses and alter their environment for their life to change.
5. New behaviour has to be learned in all relevant contexts. New behavioural skills have to be practiced in the situations where the skills are needed, not just in the situation where the skills are first learned.
6. All behaviours (actions, thoughts, emotions) are caused. There is always a cause or set of causes for our actions, thoughts, and emotions, even if we do not know what the causes are.
7. Figuring out and changing the causes of behaviour work better than judging and blaming.
Judging and blaming are easier, but if we want to create change in the world, we have to
change the chains of events that cause unwanted behaviours and events.

To assume that people are doing the best they can, given their skills, their resources, their background, their experiences. That even if you are hurt or confused by their actions, they did the best they could.  That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try harder, to learn and grow, to be better at what they do. And I believe that for myself, I know I’ve done wrong by myself and by others in the past and will make mistakes in the future, but everything has a cause even the craziest of “Borderline” moments.

The framing of someone having done their best at any given time is useful when you apply it to, I don’t know, let’s say, your parents and how they parented you. The stuff they did well, the stuff they struggled with. Remembering they too were raised by parents who did things well and struggled with other things. But remembering that very few people are deliberately malicious, and even then we can apply the same framework to think about what skills, personality and resources they bring to the situation. True, they may lack empathy, and intend to hurt you, but there are reasons for that, even if it is that they are truly broken as a person and need to have changes to them or the things around them, or both, to have good outcomes for themselves and those who they might damage with their fucked-up-ness. Yes, there are true predators, and they should be away from those they seek to harm, but how that looks I don’t know. But that’s not most people. And most people are truly trying hard, even if they fall short of their own or our expectations and hopes of them.

I’ve wandered off with my thoughts. I’ve been trying to decide whether to attend my therapy appointment tomorrow. It’s a lot of travel, and I’m tired still from the week that’s been. But it may be good to have that hour to talk with someone external, someone without expectations of how I should have handled the week and the people around me in the week. I don’t know, I’ll decide in the morning. The train ride might be nice, even if I still have to pay full fare because they only resent my Opal card over the weekend.

Bruce made me laugh this morning. I asked him a question, and he replied “I’m just simping for my e-girl”.

less than three xx

Interpersonally Ineffective

Homework sheets.for dbt

I’ve made it to the halfway point of my Dialectical Behaviour Therapy program through the Centre for Psychotherapy in town. Six months, three modules (distress tolerance, emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness) plus the ongoing mindfulness skills, across one weekly individual therapy session and one 2.5 skills group. Via Telehealth. With homework. I am so trepedacious about going to face to face from next week, but where have I gotten with it so far?

Well, I’ve only missed one individual session in all that time! There’s been weeks without appointments due to Christmas and Easter, or my psychologist’s leave, but I’ve only cancelled one, and I had covid and was brain-foggy as I think it was a great call. I’ve been to all of the group sessions scheduled too, a couple while I had covid I wasn’t 100% but I still sat in, gave it a go, and did my homework. Advantage of telehealth is the ability to attend even when under the weather, or infectious. That won’t really be an option for the groups at least from here on in. At least not immediately, they do have teleconferencing facilities which the lead therapist mentioned yesterday, but they’re not currently working, and would be an option if you’ve covid, I’m told, but at this stage it might be best to give it a miss?

I’m not sure what their rules are going to be around isolating if you’ve covid or a household contact, now that the regulations are rapidly disappearing? When I had covid I couldn’t go into the Mater for my Antabuse for 14 days but I also don’t know what the rules are there now, for outpatients vs inpatients and the like.

SO. The last module was called “Interpersonal Effectiveness” aka social skills :p A lot of the manual does read like social skills training, making sure you’re polite, not too demanding, use eye contact, and “easy manner” all the things that are “expected” of you, Because they’re expected, they’re effective when interacting with the people.

I have to admit a sense of skepticism about what parts of this I should spend too much energy on. Fortunately for me it seems all my years of masking an fawning have left me over-doing a lot of the “good” skills, if to my own detriment. And the therapists have been encouraging me to stand up for myself more, hold my ground, and “no sorries”, because they are SO automatic and just make me so meek and submissive.

I have to admit, I spent too much energy last session observing the therapists’ manners, their facial expressions, their ways of explaining things. Wondering if that’s what I should aspire to be like, but also feeling like some of it was unnecessary. You know what people use their encouraging smiles? and it gets too much?

First group in person on Thursday. I hope my replacement Opal card comes in time. I lost it on the way home from my last individual session. I’d not taken my wallet, because it’s big and everything is on my phone, except for my opal card, and I thought the card would be safe in my DBT folder, but it slipped out between tapping on at Newcastle interchange and trying to tap off at Fassifern. it’s a concession card, so it has to be ordered, there’s no buying individual, single trip tickets on concession any more. Yup, that makes it difficult for a lot of people.

But I’ve been social lately. Went to the local candidate’s event and chatted with new and prospective members, educated people around Greens’ policies and how preferential voting works. Yeah, I collapsed in a heap the next day, but I use my social spoons and social skills as needed. I even have a phone call booked to talk about going new places and meet even more new people next month, and I’m going to Sydney on Saturday for a customer panel I’m doing with Ausgrid. I can be around people, and turn on the charm as necessary, I just prefer not to unless I think it’s worth it.