Good enough.

Things have been much better around these parts.



Last week started with the amazing news that my visa was granted. Which, based on the all consuming sense of relief and fantastic good feelings that came with it, must have been weighing heavier on me than I originally assumed. I had a few moments throughout the week where I thought I might lose it, but they passed pretty quickly. I got some weird, sad news about my grandfather on Friday that left me pretty worried for my mom, but it didn’t send me into a tail spin like I thought it would. I also started therapy on Friday.

Meeting with a therapist for the first time is a lot like going on a first date. There’s a lot of small talk at first, a lot of awkward answers to questions like “Where are you from?” “What do you do?” “Is there a history of mental illness in your family?” Just like a first date. Except in this date, one person is asking the questions and is sometimes writing notes or giving you confused looks bordering on judgemental. This is the 4th therapist I’ve seen, technically 5 if you count the social worker/guidance counsellor that we were required to see freshman year of college to make sure we weren’t falling behind in class, but who I saw as weekly (or some times 2x or 3x a week). So I’ve been on some strange first dates.

In the weirdest first visit I had, the therapist told me that I was likely bi-polar, and obsessive compulsive, but said it was ok because everyone was to some degree. She went on to make an example by telling me, “Your bangs are covering your right eye just slightly, and so I can’t see both of your eyes fully. It’s really bothering me. In fact, it’s bothering me so much that I want to ask you to put your bangs back with a bobby pin.” And she immediately shot up, got to her desk, pulled off a bobby pin from its package, and handed it to me. I looked at it, like what? * In the saddest first date I’ve had, I showed up in my pj’s with dirty hair, sobbed at an uncomfortably loud volume for the whole hour, and left without paying my bill.

My new therapist and I seemed to hit it off. She had a nice, comfortable office and she let me guide the session and ramble without end, only offering her opinion when I came to a stopping point, which was extremely helpful to me. I think that’s important for a first session, to just get everything out on the table without judgement. She did say one thing before I left that really resonated with me.

“I think you’re exceedingly hard on yourself. I think we should start discussing the idea of ‘good enough.'”

Good enough?

I understand what she means, because I am exceedingly hard on myself. I’m my own disappointed parent. But I don’t like the idea of being good enough. I’ve always been the one that wants to be the best at everything. I want to over-excel and be the most badass at everything I do. And what comes hand in hand with that is a near-paralytic fear of failure. So you can see how well this desire to be the best has done for me so far – i.e. a lot of untouched goals, missed opportunities, nights where I stay awake counting heart palpitations.

I’m slowly beginning to realise that there’s no point in having this drive to be only the best when it prevents me from getting anything accomplished.

However… I don’t think the answer is simply accepting good enough, and not pushing myself. I think the answer is managing my expectations, and acknowledging that mistakes and failure are a part of any process. I shouldn’t be so afraid of what isn’t guaranteed to happen. It’s going to take a lot of work to train myself out of these depressive habits, but I’m looking forward to feeling confident one day. It’ll take baby steps.

Good enough.

Poor Tolerance to Minor Disruptions

A few weeks ago, I got Medicare – and universal health care is pretty sexy. Lately, I’ve been seen at a private hospital. So I pay 100% up front, and then I get an immediate rebate. If I went to a bulk billing hospital, I would pay exactly $0. And I don’t have to pay $600/month either. In fact, I pay nothing apart from what I give in taxes. And I’m ok with that. And now I can get assistance with my upcoming therapy. Which is hip hip hooray because that shit is expensive.

As I was setting up my therapy appointment, I was told I would need to get a “mental health plan” from Medicare before they would pay for my sessions. It’s like the referral/in-network authorisation that I had with my insurance back in the States. So tonight I sat down with my general practitioner to get my mental health plan squared away. He called Medicare, gave them my name, a code, and in 45 seconds, I was approved for 10 sessions (admittedly I was a bit shocked at only 10 sessions – even in the States you get 20). Then, my doc had a bunch of questions for me to answer, which I’m sure I’ve answered before in a “Are you Sad” online questionnaire. Have you lost interest in activities you used to enjoy? Do you experience feelings of dread and worry? Do you think it would be easier if you were hit by a bus? And so on.

And then he filled out a background profile on me to take to my therapist. Which was about half an hour of me over-answering every question he asked while crying. As he was typing, I looked over and saw one of his notes under the “Explain Patient’s Current State” and there was one sentence. It said:

poor tolerance to minor disruptions

And I was all, “Wow.”

I felt like shit, oversharing and crying in the office of a GP who has seen me 4 times in the last 3 weeks and who scheduled my assessment but still asked me “What brings you in tonight” – but seeing that little sentence gave me a morbid chuckle. Shit seems so easy when it’s broken down into it’s medical terms. Poor tolerance to minor disruptions* sounds like a kitchen appliance that doesn’t work when connected to a low power source. Like it’s a physical condition with an easy fix. I just need a tune up. Or a connection to a stronger voltage. It doesn’t sound like racing thoughts, elevated body temperature, stomach and muscles tightening so fast and so hard you almost double over, fuzzy eyes, constricted throat, desires to run away so strong you want leap out the nearest window but you can’t because your legs are simultaneously numb and weak. It doesn’t sound like waking up every morning feeling like you were punched in the gut. It doesn’t sound like lapsed memory, slurred speech. It sure doesn’t sound like sometimes I hate myself.

I used to be well above average at taking things as they came – I used to be the person calming down those with poor tolerance to minor disruptions. I’m wondering what happened. Did I abuse my high tolerance? Did I roll with the punches so hard and fast that now I can’t roll at all? Is my tolerance gland crapped up with cirrhosis?

Time will tell – and to that end, therapy starts tomorrow. I’m crossing every crossable appendage that it’s a good match. I’ve had a much better week this time around, with a few uncomfortable moments that didn’t last long. But I still feel like I could fall off the balance beam at any second.

*side note – I finally have a title for my autobiography.

On Visas and Anniversaries

Yesterday, we got the big news we’ve been waiting for since… basically the moment in 2013 that we decided to live together.


All the stress, all the worry, all the paperwork, all the days off from work to stand in line at various government agencies and all the thousands of dollars spent, and it all came through. And in possibly a year (not the 2 years I originally thought) I’ll be granted a Permanent Residency – and we’ll never have to worry about my visa status EVER. AGAIN. The fact that we don’t have to worry about it anymore has brought so much relief – but the idea that now we have more security, it makes planning for the future so much easier.

Like, it’s not insane to think about buying a car, now. And I can arrange for my books to be shipped here. And maybe we can get a pet. You know – the important things in life.

I thought that there would be a lot more pomp and circumstance when I found out – with all the effort that went into getting the visa, I was at least hoping for a kangaroo holding to deliver the visa in the form of a bronzed plaque and a hand full of balloons saying WELCOME!! Instead, it arrived in an innocuous email that I at first thought was asking me for more information. Ah well, however it happened, I’m glad that it did. We thought we were going to have to wait until July at least – if not December, before we found out. And that we found out Monday when our third anniversary was on Saturday – that’s just sweet timing.


Also it gave us another excuse to celebrate with cake. And that’s basically why I do everything in life – for the possibility of cake.

So happy days – happy visa-ing, and happy anniversaring. Joel, there’s no one I could ever imagine doing this with… every day, you show me that I made the right decision. Thank you for always going above and beyond, for listening, for counselling, for making the best punch drunk chicken this side of the meridian, for always knowing. I love you more than I love sweatpants. Even if you do love Suspect Zero more than you love me.


Rome wasn’t built in a day


Patience isn’t one of my strong suits. I’m the person who gets irrationally irritated with slow internet, stop and go traffic, long lines, babysitting, making pancakes, etc. My lack of patience is one the biggest hurdles when it comes to getting better with myself. 

Take for example, this past week.

Between Sunday and Monday I had a few big talks and I felt like everything was going to be A-ok. Monday was fucking fantastic. I woke up feeling good, I had a good work day, I came home and everything was great – not a single panicked thought and no real worries. Then Tuesday. I woke up optimistic, and by the time I got in bed, I was numb and exhausted. Wednesday, more or less the same. Thursday, no panic attacks, but I felt on edge all day – in flight or fight mode so intense I could barely think straight. Friday, more of the same. I came home, ate fast food, took a shower, and crawled into bed at 8 PM with 2 books and The Wire. Saturday was great until about mid-day when the edge kicked in. I felt better by the end of the night, but there were some bad moments. Today has been touch and go. I did spend about 3 hours on the phone with my mom, which helped a lot.  

I start therapy this week, and I’m so relieved to be 4 days away from help that I could cry – well, everything has made me cry today (hooray anxiety + PMS), but this really makes me feel like I could cry. I feel like I’ve dug myself into such a hole that the slightest kick of dirt makes me curl up, ready to be buried. I feel worthless, overwhelmed, and like a big fat pile of sweatpants, fail, and panic. And I’m exhausted of going through each day feeling like I can’t make it. Even making lists – my go to worry reliever – makes my mind race.

It’s hard to convince myself that everything is going to be ok, even though I know it will be. It’s hard to believe that it won’t always be this hard. That I won’t always feel so far behind. That I won’t always feel so paralysed and scared. It’s difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel because I’m so distracted by the now and how I’m not dealing with the now particularly well.

I need to make the half of me that knows I’ll be ok stronger than the part of me that hates myself and thinks it’ll never get better. And that takes time, it takes energy, and above all, it takes patience.


Bathroom Ghoulies

I’ve been sick this week with a bladder infection. And as I was getting my blood drawn, I did the usual: roll up my sleeve on my right arm (it has the better veins), politely request a small needle because I have tiny veins, clench/unclench my fist a bunch, and look for something coming up. I got the same look I always get from the tech, which is a cross between “You’ve done this before?” and “I hope you don’t do heroin.” (I don’t.) I’ve just had my blood drawn a time or two – hundred.

I was always sick with something when I was younger. And when I was about 5 years old, I developed two things: 1. An overactive imagination, and 2. An E. coli infection in my bladder that spread to my kidneys. Yes, these two are related.

Around this age, I finally started to pay attention to movies. We always watched movies together as a family, but I feel like 5 years old was when I took notice of “real movies” and not the $2 cartoon of Peter Pan that we got as part of “Buy 2 Roast Beef Sandwich Kids Meals and Get a Free Shitty 23 minute Cartoon VHS” promotion at Hardees*. The first movie that I really loved was Batman, and I remember wanting to watch it over and over – oh, and The Ninja Turtles Movie. We watched that movie so often, the tape snapped. 

And when you’re little and just figuring out what’s real and what’s not, movies can put you right in that grey area of “I know that’s not real… right?” And at this time that movies were becoming the big influence in my life, there was a lot happening in my nervous child-brain. I started school around this time, I was suddenly terrified of – well, everything. But definitely my most rational fear was getting attacked, killed, and eaten in the bathroom by a host of demons, ghosts, or monsters.

Like, I said, totally rational fear, and a lovely little treat implanted in my head by such cinematic gems as Candy Man – a ghost who comes through the mirror and kills you with a hook? I don’t even have to say his name 5 times. He will come through the mirror and get me as soon as I walk in.


How about Look Who’s Talking Too. I knew toilets couldn’t come alive and threaten to eat me. Or could they?

Drawn shower curtains? Thanks to Psycho and Triology of Terror, I wrote off showers all together. I took baths until I was about 11. They can’t sneak up on you if you’re taking a bath.

And the infamous Ghoulies. I knew tiny monsters didn’t exist. And I knew tiny monsters didn’t come out of toilets to eat you. Or did they?


So thanks, movies. My bathroom fear was serious business.

I don’t remember much about the bathroom in that first pre-school building, except it was old, had high ceilings, no window, and it had bad lighting. And I hated to go in there. It was an exercise in sheer panic to use public bathrooms by myself, and the more I thought about it, the worse it got. I would stand in front of the bathroom door with every hair on my body standing on end, my close-to-exploding bladder willing me to just GO IN ALREADY, but having a million terrified thoughts preventing me from pushing the door open.

The scariest thought was that as soon as I sat on that toilet seat, giant arms covered in scales and patchy, blistery skin would wrap around my torso and stab me with huge claws,, and goblin monsters would come out of toilet and start eating my face. Or when I looked in the mirror, Candy Man would suddenly jump out at me and suck me into his world behind the mirror. I would use the bathroom as quick as I could and BOLT out of there, my heart racing as fast as my brain. It got so bad that I was scared to use any bathroom that wasn’t the guest bathroom in my house. Like, my bedroom was next to the upstairs bathroom, and I still would run downstairs to use the smaller one.

This ultimately led to me needing to pee, but holding it in all day until I got home, or going to the bathroom under extreme distress if I got to the point where an accident was inevitable – which was totally awesome when you’re a kid. I think what made it worse is that I was too ashamed to tell anyone about it. Of course I was – I was the youngest of four and my siblings weren’t weirdly terrified of bathrooms. I was scared of bathrooms, but I was definitely more scared of being made fun of. So I stayed scared, drank less, held it in, got dehydrated, and eventually, I got sick. Like, E. coli infection in my bladder and kidneys sick.

See – I told you they were related.

I don’t remember much about when I was that sick. Probably because I was 5, and probably because I was running a 104* fever and going through fainting spells. But I do remember  for years after that, bladder infections felt like a monthly occurrence (ok probably not monthly, but I have quite a few childhood memories involving urine tests). Like, I’m pretty sure the staff working with the paediatric urologists knew my mom’s voice.

Eventually, I talked about my bathroom fear. And eventually I grew up and (mostly**) grew out of the fear, and as I did, I got fewer and fewer bladder infections. They may be few and far between, but now I can read my body like a book. As soon as I get the symptoms, I make a doctor’s appointment. I’ve only been wrong once. And I definitely wasn’t wrong this week.

So coming off the heels of my really rough anxiety patch, I missed basically 3 days of work due to fever, headaches, and a bad reaction to antibiotics. But, thanks to the right antibiotics and time off to rest, I’m feeling much better. And today’s the first day in about 9 days where I’ve felt pretty normal.

My body might be faulty, but at least I’m good at catching the warning signs. And I’ll go ahead and add those movies to a list of “Things I’m Not Showing My Child.” But they’ll probably watch them anyway behind my back. After all, that’s how I saw them.



*I remember watching this tape about 36x day. And one day it mysteriously vanished. Maaaaybe the disappearance had something to do with the fact that the cartoon drove Mom up the wall. Maybe.

**Now I’m just afraid of catching crabs from a toilet seat.


If you’re anything like me, you reach that point. You know, when your inner turmoil gets so twisted and knotted up that you can’t hide it from anyone anymore. When you walk around with a look of permanent panic. When asked “Are you ok?” you can only shrug and try to answer. When you’re so panicked about making one mistake that you make fifteen. When your thoughts are so obsessive and singular that you’re paralysed to think about anything else – like laundry. Or whether you’ve paid your bills. Or if you got home from work and slept for 3 hours and then got up and went straight to bed. Or if this is the third day in a row without a shower.

But yeah. Yesterday I got to that point where I literally couldn’t hold it in anymore, and I had a meltdown about how hard it’s been lately just to make it through the days. In my efforts to not “feed the beast” and be “mind over matter”, I told myself this is just a phase, and it’ll pass. As soon as January is over. As soon as February is over. As soon as March is over. As soon as April ends. Now it’s May. And so far it’s been one hell of a phase.

The thing is – I don’t feel depressed. But I do feel overwhelmed. And terrified. I feel exhausted, but it’s not from working too hard. It’s from maintaining a constant state of worry. It’s all new to me, and it’s been made abundantly clear that I don’t really know how to react.  So I’ve made the decision to get professional help again. It’s hard to live in dread. I need coping mechanisms and life skills. Like implementing a schedule that would hopefully keep me more in line and manage my day to day expectations a bit more. And learning how to draw a line under certain things and acknowledging that I need my own time to do the things that are important.

Just getting it out there and acknowledging that I’m out of control helped, though. I woke up today with markedly less dread, I took a shower and put on make up, and I had a good day at work, and time to do things for myself. My mom always says “where you are now is not where you’ll always be.” And I’m going to bear this in mind as I go forward.

So yeah. Welcome to my journey out of the woods.