Thursday, March 26, 2009

Me? Make up?

Hi Everyone

For part of my assessment on Monday we are required to be 'professionally dressed'. Well, luckily, my stepmother bought me a wonderful dress at Christmas but, what to do about make up?

I never wear make up. I don't know what to do with make up. The last time I wore it, in my memory, was in 2002 when I was teaching.

My friend Edwina suggested I go to the Body Shop where they give you a free make over as long as you purchase from them. I liked that idea, and it was doubly appealing as I know the Body Shop is a very ethical company.

So this afternoon along I went. I am still a little feverish and so I was sweating which meant they had to put on about four layers of foundation.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, this picture is the result. I was pleasantly surprised. I actually looked better than usual! And I felt good too. There is something about the whole make over thing that makes you feel pampered.

Now I don't suppose I will immediately change to wearing make up every day but I will try and get a lot of practice in between now and the end of the year. I want to feel comfortable with make up before I get a job because there will be so many things to adjust to when I actually get a job I think it's a good idea to adjust to this now.

God Bless



Hi Everyone

Yesterday I was well enough to go to school - praise God and thanks to all those who prayed. Sometimes I could actually feel the prayer and God's love and peace.

Anyway yesterday we had a guest speaker at our class who spoke about bullying. The statistics are awful - nearly everyone either gets bullied or is in a school or workplace where it happens.

In our class two people walked out - one had been bullied at school, the other in the workplace.

I must admit I was very lucky at school. There was a bit of bitching and teasing but nothing I could call bullying. The same could be said of the workplace really - there was one teacher who picked on all younger staff (including me) but, in the end, a lot of the staff stood up against it and he was transferred.

All this changed, however, when I became mentally ill. I was no longer normal. I was different. Difficult to understand. Hard to relate to. Scary.

Some of my friends left me because they couldn't cope. I appreciated their honesty but it was hard to lose them.

A lot of my acquaintances just stopped talking to me. They would walk straight past me. This was especially the case with the people I knew in the theatre. All in all the only theatre people who stood by me were Christians.

This is called 'covert' bullying - ie they don't actually do something active they just isolate you from the community you had once belonged to. And it hurts, it hurts really bad.

I still go to theatrical events because I love the theatre but every time I go I have to grit my teeth against this coldness, this stigma. I wonder what they say about me but I guess I'll never know.

But it has taught me one thing - always include people, even if they are difficult to understand etc, after all that's what Jesus did.

God Bless you all


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Physical Illness

Hi Everyone

I am just getting over a really horrible physical illness which started suddenly on Sunday afternoon.

I had a really awful fever and heart palpitations. I was scared I was going to die and became quite anxious. I asked people to pray and took some valium to settle my anxiety.

All of the rest of Sunday I sat on my bed with the fan next to me, in my underwear with a moist towel. I also took some paracetomal.

The next day I was still weak and feverish so I stayed home from school. Today I am a little better but I'm weak so I decided to take another day off.

I feel a bit depressed which always happens when I get sick physically.

For all those reading please pray that I return to school tomorrow and don't get worse physically or mentally.

Thanks and God Bless


Saturday, March 21, 2009

In the Psychiatric Ward

Hi Everyone

I decided, this week, that I would write about some of my past experience with mental illness.

This excerpt is from my first admission to the Royal Hobart Hospital due to mental illness. I have changed the name of the male character to protect his identity but all other events and characters are true.

Anyway - here it is. Let me know what you think.


Psych Ward RHH - First Admission

It was just after Easter 2003. I had thoughts coming thick and fast. They were saying to me: "Why don't you jst kill yourself?" I didn't think they were my thoughts but I felt, somehow, that I should obey them. I was struggling to hold on.

The hospital loomed large in my mind as a place of refuge.

The other occupants of the house, Kaffy the cat and Sharyn the flatmate, had had enough of my madness. "I'm desperate to move out," Sharyn said "I no longer feel emotionally safe with you." Kaffy just ran away.

The hospital beckoned me. In the waiting room I told the nurse I was losing control. "You'd better admit me," I said earnestly "I fear I'll kill myself if you don't." Thankfully they did. I really feel that they saved my life.

Once I was in the psychiatric ward I was surprised at how normal most of the patients seemed to be. A few seemed strange, a couple decidedly evil, but most seemed to be 'just like me'. I felt I was in a place where I was finally understood.

A man by the name of Sam, particularly, was someone who I related to very well. "I'm afraid I'm mad," I told him at our first meeting. He smiled and said "Welcome to the family." I felt such relief. There were other people in the world who were crazy just like me.

Sam was tall, dark and handsome. It wasn't quite love at first sight. More like fascination at first sight.

He was an artist. I have always had a thing for artists because I love pretty things but lack the technical skills to produce them.

Sam was intrigued by my faith. Shortly after our first meeting he drew me a beautiful picture with a rainbow on the top. On the bottom were three hills with a cross standing on the middle hill.

My visitors were few and far between. I was too scared to tell most of my friends where I was. This seemed to me particularly wise given Sharyn's reaction. I am, however, grateful to Tracey, Kate and Megan for their visits.

Megan came every day. She wasn't scared of madness as both her parents had their problems. I remember two of her visits particularly.

The first one I remember was when she brought in the entire Narnia series for me to read. That showed real insight. I had lost my ability to concentrate on adult books. Reading had been so much a part of my identity that I felt I had lost my personality somehow.

Even the Bible with its short, sharp prose that cuts to the bone swam before my eyes. I had regressed, intellectually at least, to childhood and, in my childhood Narnia was important.

On the second visit Megan met Sam. He was manic. Ideas jumbled out of his mouth, jumped around a bit and mishmashed into a poetic hyper-reality. I was fascinated. Megan wasn't.

"Lovely guy," she said "But he's mad."

I ignored her. I was in a new reality. It's weird but when you go into the psych. ward you accept strange things as being normal. No one talks much about normal things. They talk about their suicide attempts, their psychosis, their depression. And that world, that world of the mentally ill, to me, at that time, seemed the only thing that was real.

When I was a child, for instance, I was warned about strangers with lollies and educated about sex and drugs.

I was never warned about mental illness. I was never educated about it. When it happened to me I was so desperate for someone to explain it, someone to commiserate with that I latched on to Sam. He was the first person who seemed to offer real understanding.

Sam, however, was an angry young man. But that, I'm afraid, is another story.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Guest post by Jessie the Cat

Hi Everyone

My name is Jessie and, as you can see, I am a very good looking female cat. As I am desexed all you male cats can look but not touch.

On January 15 2009 Amber became my human. I chose her because she cuddled me a lot when she came to the cat centre and because she didn't mind me hissing at all the other cats so I could have her all too myself. I am a jealous cat!

For the last two months I have been training Amber in how to meet my needs. She's doing OK but I don't get enough 'outside' time. Today I managed to escape and I went under the house - Amber can't get into the 'under the house bit' because it's too small. Yay! I came out with lots of cobwebs on my beautiful face though. Then I went to the big park next door and Amber came and got me.

Food is good here though. Today Amber gave me some leftover stew. It was very yummy. I purred as I ate it. I also got my usual canned food and some dry food. I am getting used to the dry food now. At first I refused to eat it.

I also like the computer. As you can see sitting on the laptop case is one of my favourite places. I also like walking on the keyboard. Amber doesn't like me doing that though.

I have met some of Amber's friends. My favourites were Heather and Kerri but they were all OK. None of them were cruel to me.

The best thing about Amber is she's very affectionate. I get lots of cuddles and pats. I like that usually. And I get to snuggle up on the bed at night time. I sit on Amber's side and purr.

So, life is good, but would be better if I got more 'outside time'.

Thank you for reading my post. I know it's good and I'm beautiful.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bus Drivers and the Five Principles of Customer Service

Hi Everyone

I want to have a whinge and apply what I am learning at the Polytechnic at the same time.

Anyway at the moment we have been learning about the 'Five Principles of Customer Service'. These are: Value for Money, Reliability, Quality, Environment/Atmosphere and Expertise/Knowledge.

Value for money is about getting competitive and realistic prices, special deals and discounts etc. The Metro Bus service has realistic prices but there are never any deals or discounts, or any way they reward long term customers.

Reliability is about timeliness, following up enquiries and complaints and having products in stock when advertised. I think the bus service usually runs on time and has the required stock but they always rush through enquiries and complaints as if the customer was an irritation rather than the reason they are in a job.

Quality is for products and customer service. Let's deal with products first. The bus should be a good quality bus that gets people where they want to be on time without undue fuss. This is not the case with Metro. So many of their buses are faulty. Yesterday the ticket validator ate my ticket.

Quality customer service means striving to exceed customer's need, providing high level service and individual attention. Metro really stuffs up on this. As stated previously they rush customers through, fail to listen properly, are often curd or downright rude and seem to resent anyone with a question. They are also discriminatory - they do not wait for the aged or disabled to settle before taking off, they often yell at Africans and Asians with language difficulties and they treat all high school students as if they are troublemakers. I've actually been shocked at just how bad all this is!

The Atmosphere/Environment part has three sub-parts - the physical environment, the staff
and advertising/promotion. Let's deal with the physical environment first. The buses are OK but could be better. Some are a bit too old and many have used bus tickets etc lying around.

The main problem in this category is the staff. They are often not very well groomed. Their shirts and hair is messy even though they are in uniform. They are also often rude, arrogant and unfriendly.

Promotional material is great - I love bus ads! What a pity the service doesn't live up to its advertising.

The last category Knowledge/Expertise is in two sections - Knowledge of internal services/procedures and knowledge of equipment. Metro continually falls short of expectations in their knowledge of their own services. The drivers don't know any routes/bus stops except their own and if people dare to ask for assistance the reply is often very curt.

They are a little better with driving the bus, navigating etc but they still occasionally miss stops etc.

Overall this is not good enough! If it gets any worse I will make a formal complaint.

God Bless you all and pray for me to forgive bus drivers from the very depth of my heart.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

In Memory of Simon Turner

Hi Everyone

Today marks the second anniversary of the death of my friend Simon Turner.

I met Simon several times in the psychiatric ward of the Royal Hobart Hospital about six years ago and we became friends.

Simon has been one of the nicest and most thoughtful people I have ever met in my life. He was gentle, intelligent, wise, kind and interesting.

He was also a very sincere Catholic and we had many thought provoking theological discussions. These were often challenging but never disagreeable. Simon had the unique gift of being loving in disagreements.

Like me Simon suffered from a combination of depression and schizophrenia. He said, several times, that he wanted to die. He would not, however, due to his spiritual beliefs, commit suicide. He told me that he wanted God to take his life so he could be with Jesus.

There is no doubt in my mind that Simon went to be with Jesus. He is now, no doubt, happier than he ever was on earth. But for me, and for many of his friends and family, his life was a tragic loss. '

I don't think Simon ever realised how important he was to so many people. People loved him and, even now, I miss him. I miss his little quirks like asking my cat for her opinion when he thought I'd made a bad decision, finding out where the idea of purgatory came from (it's in the apocrapha) and, most of all, his willingness to drop everything to help out a friend.

I was devastated by Simon's death and even now there is a 'Simon shaped hole' in me. Luckily I told Simon how much he meant to me before he died. This is important as many others didn't and were, therefore, guilty.

If you know someone wonderful let them know - they could die tomorrow.

Lastly I will end with the following Bible quote from Philippians. The Apostle Paul (who wrote it) wasn't mentally ill but the desire for eternal bliss echoes clearly the way Simon spoke about death and the afterlife.

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain...I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body." Philippians 1:21, 23-4.

God Bless you all


Monday, March 9, 2009

Like Wow - I've co-written a play

Hi Everyone

Yesterday my friend Heather and I finished the first draft of our play.

The play doesn't have a title as yet - if anyone can think of one please let me know.

It is a black comedy set in the psych ward.

It starts with the death of a patient who had been let out on leave.

The rest of the play details the responses of staff and patients to his death.

The play opens with the dead person's friend, Will, reciting a poem about the incident.

We then move onto the 'smoking area' of the ward where Will informs the other patients of David's death.

Chrissie, who was in love with David, is distraught and goes psychotic. Jude wants to raise him from the dead. Sara is disappointed she didn't get to have sex with him before he died. And Nicky, lastly, has seen many such deaths.

The doctor, Dr Woo, reacts in an agorant manner. The more experienced nurse, Karen, is concerned about the ripple effect of such an incident. And the inexperienced nurse, Jen, tries to be sympathetic to the patients but is met with aggression and distrust.

The play is, like all first drafts, a bit rough and patchy and needs work. It was fun doing it though and I hope we can hone it to perfection.

This is the first time I've co-authored anything and its been great fun.

God Bless


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Hi Everyone

Yesterday I went to see this year's Academy Award Winner 'Slumdog Millionaire'.

'Slumdog Millionaire' follows the life of Jamal. Jamal and his brother Salim lose their mother in Hindu-Muslim riots and are forced to live on the dumps.

There they meet Latika, the girl who Jamal will fall in love with.

The three of them are picked up by a musician and they feel their life is going up - until Salim works out that anyone who can sing will be blinded to earn extra money begging.

Salim and Jamal escape but Latika is too slow.

Various other flashbacks show the progression of the lives of the three children until adulthood. Salim shoots the musician but is then taken by a sort of 'mafia man' to do his bidding. Jamal is forced out of the threesome and goes to work in a call centre.

In the present Jamal is one question away from winning $200 000 0000 rupees and is being tortured on suspicion of cheating.

Luckily this film has a happy ending which is always a good thing.

Slumdog Millionaire is an exceptionally interesting film - I was glued to my seat. It gives a great look into the seedy side of India. The personalities of Salim, Jamal and Latika are well developed and acted. The child actors, especially, deserve mention.

This is one of the must see films of the year.

God Bless