Fuck it’s April.

I just want to take a moment to appreciate this…how the hell did we end up in April?!?! The weeks are flying by..and I have still not mastered the art of posting regularly. Oh well..here we are.

Where am I at ?

I am busy juggling uni and work, whilst trying to maintain somewhat of a social life. Classes for me this year started in February, marking my 4th semester into nursing. I am loving it… finally I am getting into the juicy stuff. And by juicy I mean injections…subcutaneous and intramuscular. Is it bad I’m just dying to stick a syringe into someone’s arm? I also learnt how to set up an IV drip… here’s how it went down;

IV therapy

Attempt #1 I forgot to close the roller clamp in the tube, and upon spiking the bag of fluid I was left with water spurting out of the end and watering the floor. Fuck.

Attempt # 2: Exasperated that my attempts to twist the protective cap off the bag of normal saline were too gentle to have any effect, I ended up violently ripping the whole plug out and once again, ended up with a mini shower of water raining down on the floor. Double fuck.

It’s comforting to know I will never run out of ways to embarrass myself in public.

MSDTRSH EC005

So when I go out on placement in a few months time, I will actually be allowed to give injections, prime IV lines and administer medications (God help us all!). The other day the clinical office emailed me to let me know my placement is in June..and of course I landed the one rotation I prayed not to get, which falls in the winter holidays. I was a little annoyed initially because the email shattered my dream of booking a European Contiki during the holidays; but now that I’ve had a few days to think about it my wiser and more mature self has realised it’s a blessing in disguise. The real truth is

1.I am still shit at saving money in 2016 and my bank account is eternally stuck at around $1500 dollars

2. I wasn’t REALLY as a disappointed as I thought I should be, as it turns out I love my life enough to not need a break from it

This placement will be my first stint in a hospital and away from cleaning up shit and dishes at a nursing home (actually let’s be real I’ll still be cleaning up shit). I can’t wait to get my hands dirty and be able to put theory into practice with all of the skills I’m being taught at uni. It’ll be 40 hours a week x 3 weeks so there will be plenty of time to settle in and get a feel for the routine on the ward.

I’m enjoying a fleeting moment of relief at the moment- the last 2 weeks have been a marathon of assessments and group assignments and I’m carrying the victory of having successfully smashed them all!! The most nerve wrecking of which was a clinical skills exam in which the nursing tutors put 4 skills on bits of paper into a white vomit bag (is that a twisted sense of humour?!) and we then had to pull one out and perform the chosen skill under their watchful eye within a time limit. There were critical elements of the skill which we had to achieve, and if we forgot certain steps then we would fail the skill. We would be given one more shot, and then if you failed the 2nd time you would fail the whole unit and not be allowed to go out to a hospital.

Imagine my joy when I pulled out intramuscular injection…I thought I’ve got this sucker in the bag!

INJECTION

I can tell you I was fist pumping at not having pulled out IV therapy…I was haunted by visions of water spurting everywhere whilst a marker looked on in horror.

I confidently carried out the injection and was told by my marker that not only did I pass, but she didn’t have anything to critique me on 😀 I did a happy little jig for the rest of the day… relief practically seeped from my pores!

My last class for the week was on Wednesday, then next week is a study break so I have a bit of down time to catch up with friends and get a head start on assignments due later down the track. I plan to fit in some quality gym time which has been lacking lately, a night or two of wine and cocktails aaaaand I am going bridesmaid dress shopping with my Mum who is getting remarried later this year.

I better go to bed- I need to set an alarm for my breakfast date with my papa tomorrow. That’s all for now 🙂

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Fuck it’s April.

Old Demons: Due

Sooooo yes…the procrastination was at an all time high for writing a part 2 to my previous blog. I needed to enter a certain head space to write on these deeper topics, and it just seemed to evade me these last few weeks. Perhaps because for a little while after writing it I felt a vulnerability that blocked my powers of reflection.

The other day I readied myself; there I was with my laptop perched on my legs lying in bed coaxing myself to push through the uneasiness. I opened up my last blog to reread it and struggled to focus my eyes on the screen to be honest, I felt detached from my own words. It’s hard at times to connect the sad, withdrawn girl to the woman I have become.

I retrieved old diaries to try and trace back through my journey, and it was shocking to be confronted with how unhappy I was. I’ve squashed the darker memories into a murky patch of darkness, and I don’t think I was prepared for distinct memories to jump out from the pages and slap me in the face.

I wasn’t exaggerating about my weight  yo-yoing, at one point I put on 5kg over 10 days!!!! It makes me sad to think I was filled with so much pain.  To see the ups and downs documented is exhausting: One day I am describing how amazing and empowered I feel after a gym workout, and then the next I am sobbing on the kitchen floor after a binge episode. Stuck in the diary was a letter I had written to myself which read “When you binge Arielle, your soul deflates like a balloon, and the twinkle leaves your eyes”. How awfully poetic.

It was NOT easy trying to change my habits, and it was a matter of turning the tables on my response to anxiety. To sadness. To pain. To disappointment.To stress. Natural feelings along the spectrum of emotions we experience as humans. But for me these difficult emotions were triggers to binge. Amongst the divorce, family tensions and struggling at uni there were plenty of triggers, so instead of putting up a fortress and trying to numb myself to uncomfortable feelings I had to painstakingly teach myself to respond in more constructive ways. And this is where exercise became my saviour. Instead of being utilised in a harmful manner to compensate for overeating…I learnt to embrace exercise for the simple reason that it kept me sane. And whenever I felt overcome by a difficult emotion I would channel it into the gym. I started lifting weights, I started running.

Yes, I admit sometimes I would become too fixated on how many calories I was burning, but over time I ran because it made me feel free. I lifted weights because through becoming physically leaner, my mind became mentally stronger and more resilient.

Whilst I learnt how powerful a tool exercise could be for me, that’s not to say I stopped binging. I would have a particularly shitty day of eating which could spiral into a shitty month of eating, but the antidote to this was routine. I would try to drag myself to the gym no matter what the consequences. Who was it that said showing up is half the battle?  Not only would I feel physically sick jumping around in a body combat class with a stomach bursting at the seams, what was normally worse was was pushing through the shame. I would experience anxiety and feel like I was branded with a big X… that the fit gym goers would look at me and see straight into my stomach and know my dirty secret. But at the end of each session I would march back to my car with my head held high; feeling 10x more positive and hopeful then I had an hour prior.

My other saving grace?? My therapist. It took a lot of courage for me go, but once I did I realised I had done myself the biggest favour of all. Sitting down on a plush couch faced with gentle eyes, she simply commenced our first session with “What happened?”.

I almost burst into tears because I didn’t realise how badly I needed to talk to someone until she presented me with those 2 words.This therapist was a godsend and helped me identify my patterns; My private nature closed me off from loved ones and stopped me from leaning on people for support.Instead I would internalise my worries and make myself miserable. I was able to recognise that when I binge I become withdrawn and can very quickly spiral into an unstable mindset which triggers dark and paranoid thoughts.

And then the realisation came that when I am at my best, caring for myself, respecting myself and my body with exercise and good nutrition, that I am equipped with the tools I need to spread love and positive vibes to those around me. This became a motivating factor in itself to continually strive to be the best version of myself. I have so much love, empathy and kindness to impart upon others, but they were being deprived of it because of an inability to cope with my own pain.

To put it into perspective…when my struggles escalated I was 17…I have now just turned 22. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years…. I have learned so much about myself and come a long way since then.

I want to share this poem by Portia Nelson- I saw it in the waiting room of my therapist before my first ever session and it inspired me, so I printed it off and have kept it close to me ever since. I love it because I feel like it perfectly sums up my journey.

AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN FIVE SHORT CHAPTERS

(PORTIA NELSON)

Chapter 1

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

Chapter 3

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

Chapter 4

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter 5

I walk down another street.”

I am a work in progress. I won’t bullshit and say I never eat in times of stress because that would be a lie. But I’m okay with that..because I remind myself I am human and we all comfort eat from time to time. Some days are from Chapter 5;  I feel stronger and more resilient, and the urge to reach for food when I am anxious doesn’t cross my mind. And other days (like the day that sparked part one of my post) the  urge to binge wells up inside me and my mind starts whirring and some food will get mindlessly shoved into my mouth. On that particular day it was a packet of chocolate chips used for cooking. A couple of biscuits. Corn chips. Then a toasted sandwich.. at which point I forced myself to start actually chewing and becoming mindful of what I was doing. I started feeling guilty, which triggered the urge to keep binging…but it just goes to show how far I’ve come. I can break the cycle now, I flick off the guilt/shame that comes because I know it’s detrimental to my progress, and I just carry on with routine.  I made my way to the gym and smashed out a workout, and I walked out strutting my stuff.

And that’s how I know I’ll be ok.

 

Old Demons: Due

Old Demons: Uno

 

Today I came face to face with an old frenemy.. one which I’ve managed to give the flick but still manages to creep back into my life from time to time..rearing it’s ugly head.

It’s me. In the past I was my worst enemy and most toxic friend, all because of a crippling emotional dependency on food.

The reasoning behind it is complicated, but to paint the background history I can remember typing up diets under the guise of “healthy eating ideas” for my lunchbox at the age of 10. Part of this obsession with food came from my mum, looking back now. Her weight seemed to yo-yo, she would try various weight-loss techniques and never seemed to be happy with her body. 10 was around the age I carried some pesky puppy fat, so perhaps this is what triggered the need to “be healthy”.

Jump to the age of 13 and I became obsessive about exercise. I had a friend in the same boat who would stick to a rigid regime. Upon reflection this was my first glimpse at the dangerous “all or nothing” aspect of my personality, which allows me to push myself to extremes with an iron will. I used to cycle on my Mum’s exercise bike for up to an hour sometimes, if not more, and then mentally torture myself at the bite of a cookie. I never vomited, I never skipped meals, but the obsession was there. Out of all of my highschool years I was slimmest in the body of my 13 year old self (an Australian size 8, US 4) , but still I looked in the mirror and saw flabby parts.

This unsustainable lifestyle is what pushed me towards the urge to binge. My logic: chocolate was strictly in the ‘no go’ zone. I would go weeks without touching it but as soon as I crumbled, instead of eating one birthday chocolate I would have to consume the whole box, feel miserably guilty and so to purge the shame,  off I would go pedalling on that bike again. Easter had to be the most torturous time of year: I would be showered with giant bunnies, eggs and self loathing, because I didn’t know how to control myself around food I had labelled the spawn of Satan. I would binge and then exorcise the demons with running.

Balance and moderation were the unicorns of dieting: unfathomable and non-existent to someone hell bent on avoiding weight gain.

At this stage I was still slim because of all of the exercise, but this changed at 16 when things turned topsy-turvy (curvy?). Some other shit was going down at this point; my parents split up. I struggled to deal with the shambles that our family became, I stopped trying so hard at school..the old cliche. The only thing that seemed to be going up in my life were the scales. But then even they went down. And up again. Thus began the ping-pong war on the scales as numbers flitted back and forth. I managed to maintain a slim figure for my ball at the beginning of my last year of highschool, but then things literally and figuratively ballooned out of control.

Food became an emotional crutch for me, and began to dominate every waking hour.

I would jump out of bed wandering what sorts of foods I could get my hands on that day.

I would tune out in human bio and start plotting my secret binge fest to be orchestrated after school.

I would be shovelling dinner into my mouth suppressing the urge to vomit because I was so full from after school snacks, but still be plotting what I would steal from the pantry once Mum went to bed.

Snacks consisted of white bread galore with thick lashings of butter and jam, cookies, milo cereal with chocolate topping, cornflakes with honey, icecream, melted cooking chocolate.

The high was only ever short term; my blood sugar levels would aggressively spike and then equally as violently come crashing down, leaving me feeling guilty, ashamed and disgusted. I had no tolerance for these negative feelings and didn’t want to cope with the shit storm around me, so I turned back to my only ally..the Nutella jar.

And so the cycle continued.

(I have to leave it there for now but I’ll pick up soon I promise.. 😛  The feel good vibes are coming!)

Old Demons: Uno

Well hello there 2016

Today I finally bought my 2016 diary. A few days short of February. I’m a little bit late to the party I know…but I’ll explain why. In the past each year has usually concluded with thoughtful reflections on my part and rigorous resolutions, whilst I glided a foot into the first of the first.

2015 diverged from this dramatically. I am currently studying nursing at university in Australia, which means that the start of December typically marks summer and 3 months of freedom until next semester. Whilst I did wrap up my exams at the end of November, I jumped straight into a late prac placement at a tuberculosis and refugee health clinic, which was a pass requirement for my nursing unit. 2 weeks of that and bam I fell straight into working back to back 9, 10, 11 hour shifts at my job at a post office. Which around Christmas time is sweaty, hectic work. Picture me buried under a tall stack of parcels flailing around and that sums it up.

Christmas Day should have come as sweet relief, but my world was rocked when my Baba (Macedonian for grandma) died on Christmas Eve. Was it a shock? No..my sweet Baba had been on a downward decline ever since her 2nd stroke a few weeks prior. I can’t begin to explain what it’s like to watch the strongest, most independent female figure in my life waste away from the inability to swallow food and water.

I’ll never forget when I visited her a week prior by myself..I walked into the nursing home and found her in her wheelchair, propped up in front of the Christmas tree. A paper crown sat crookedly on her head as her eyes drooped, weary with the burden of death.

Wheeling her out into the courtyard my heart broke watching as her pureed Christmas lunch drooled out from the side of her mouth… and I sobbed and sobbed as I knew she was in death’s clutches. I couldn’t breathe, I was gasping for air… all the while clutching tightly onto Baba’s hands and trying to stifle my tears, because I knew her hearing was still intact.

The funeral was on New Year’s Eve; a cathartic experience which began with chanting and incense at the Macedonian Church and ended with shots of Baileys and fresh bread at the cemetery (all in the name of tradition of course).

It might seem odd to you that I went out New Year’s Eve still..but it didn’t diminish my grief. I knew that I was in desperate need of the release that comes from a bottle of wine and reckless dancing.

So that’s how I came to wake up on New Year’s Day, wondering what the unidentified stains were on my dress and wincing at the 7x surcharge on my Uber ride home in a Merc. I didn’t regret anything, but I couldn’t shake the sensation of feeling like I had been catapulted into 2016. This feeling has stuck with me throughout the whole month, so I figured it’s about time I bought a diary and start getting my shit in order.

Included in this is a little session of reflection on how I thought 2015 went. I did try conducting this a week ago while I had a few days away..but it went down like this.

Arielle goes for a run by the river, followed by stretching on the grass. It seems like the perfect opportunity to linger and reflect on the previous year whist enjoying the sunset. Seemingly innocent old man walks past, appears to also be enjoying the sunset..until he approaches the water, leans down and (talking to a fish?) yells GET FUCKEDDDDDD!!!!!!!!! repeatedly. Safe to say the atmosphere was shattered and I retreated quickly from the scene with a grin on my face, laughing at the bizarre situation.

So now from the mundane comfort of my bed I’ve concluded that 2015 was a bloody good year for me. An amazing year, if I dare to say it.

Nothing else can compare to the satisfaction I have of knowing with every fibre of my being that nursing is my calling. After previous periods of feeling lost, depressed and unmotivated, the passion that exploded from me once I started nursing seeped into all areas of my life.

I discovered that this passion, in combination with eating well and exercising, created the best version of myself that I had ever seen. In pouring love and self-respect into myself, I found I had an abundance to give back to people. My private nature shifted to one which allowed me to become more open and share my passion with people, and my energy for life. Whereas in the past I felt like I had to hide parts of myself..I’ve come to a place where I feel like I can reveal more of who I am with people. In doing this, I have experienced moments of enriching connection with others.

This is what I want to bring to the table in 2016… I want to continue this journey of self discovery and continue reaping the rewards from opening my mind and heart to people.

Well hello there 2016

Why blog…

So I could lie and say I was feeling inspired…but the seed to write a blog was planted whilst I lay in my bed scrolling through my list of recommended Netflix shows and feeling totally disheartened at the options in front of me. Surely there were juicer ways to spend my Saturday night…. so 2 minutes later BOOM a blog was born.

I have to admit I feel slightly excited every time my fingers hit another button; I’ve been a story teller and book worm since the age of 7. I would devour novels like no tomorrow: The Faraway Tree and the Babysitter’s club were the hits of my early years in primary school, followed by the Goosebump series and Harry Potter. By the time I was 11 I was spending my lunch times in the computer room spinning 60 + page stories that I typed up on Microsoft Word.

And then came highschool, which managed to suffocate some of my creativity by the time I graduated at 17.Being a bookworm didn’t seem compatible with the demands of year 12, and instead of getting lost in between pages I became a little lost in my own reality.

BUT

Who am I today?
I am a budding nurse. I am Macedonian. I am a postal mistress (I’ll explain later).

IMG_3586

I am a slight gym junkie with big hips and a big ass. I went over my phone data this month because my complete lack of any sense of direction results in a crippling reliance on Google maps.

I am 21 years old (almost 22) and have never been in a relationship…and I’m trying not to let that bother me but damnit I’m lying if I say it doesn’t.

My deepest fear…that I am not good enough. That I can’t do and be enough to keep all of the balls  in the air juggling so they don’t come crashing to the ground.

At my core I am an introvert…which is why this blog business is now almost seducing me into embarking on an adventure which shares my innermost thoughts with strangers. The sorts of details that I would normally mark as private and keep tucked away.

These are the most interesting details I could conjure up about myself at the moment.. I will stand by my rejection of Netflix tonight as the idea of this blog has provided me with some juicy ideas for future posts (almost equally as juicy as Noah & Allie’s Notebook kiss in the rain).

I never have a shortage of awkward/humiliating stories of my day to day life so feel free to tune in to my misfortunes to make yourself feel better.

 

Why blog…