Tag Archives: #MentalHealth

My year on the couch – Mental health and how not to ignore it.

My year on the couch – Mental health and how not to ignore it.

Hi everyone!

Yes, I do actually still exist. It’s been a while, right? Well, as the title of this blog post indicates, I’ve basically had bad year of mental health and am finally feeling well enough to start blogging and interacting with people again.

What happened? Did I just one day in 2019 sit down on the couch, and then all of a sudden it was 2020? Well, as much as it does feel that way to me at times, there is a lot more to it than that. As is often the case with mental health.

Basically it actually started in 2017 with bad news about a much loved family member’s health. That led to a massive change of routine that had me solo parenting for many months. Then the struggle of trying to get back into the new routine, once hubby was home (and unemployed). Fun times… :-/ I was helping my family rehome and declutter an elderly family member and, quite often, really did feel like a headless chook. All the time ignoring my own body’s warning signs that it wasn’t coping. 😦

The following year (2018) continued in a similar vein, said beloved family member passed away, shortly followed by another. Come the middle of the year I then lost my grandfather too and was then really running on fumes when it came to keeping it all together. You see, I’m neuro diverse, and recently it’s been suggested I am HFASD (High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder), though this is unconfirmed so not something I will say I am… yet. But, as throughout my life, when the personal things, the emotional things get too much for me, I just take on more and more responsibilities, more jobs, more tasks, and more projects to bury those feelings and feel useful.

Face it; I come from a long line of (probably) neuro diverse (definite) hoarders. And so, to FEEL something when this depressed, I hoarded things to do. I took on looking after a huge (and amazing) cooking group on Facebook, piled more and more reviewing invites on my plate, ran half a dozen blogs, did social media spruiking for local businesses I was friends with (all for free), as well as my routine of looking after my kids, my home, etc. With my kids I was dealing with three neuro diverse souls with problems of their own… depression, anxiety, self-harm, meltdowns, anger outbursts, the whole kit and caboodle. Totally. Forgetting. To. Think. Of. Myself. I say that all full stops to try and emphasise all the warnings I had.

I was wearing many hats and carrying many, many other people’s burdens. Dealing with my husband’s depression caused by bereavement, dealing with my kid’s mental health problems to ensure they got the best of life… telling myself I was just fine as long as I kept busy…

I started falling behind on EVERYTHING. Budgeting, bill paying, my uni work (yeah, I was still trying to do my degree online too), housework… all the usual House Frau stuff I did. I was living, thinking, decision making, and organising for the 5 people in my house but was the only one cleaning, thinking of paying bills, buying food, cooking things… and life was just growing darker and darker clouds around me. And I ignored it.

I struggled through 2018… hit 2019 and thought “time to make things better”. But by better I felt that meant even MORE of a work load. New book to release in paperback, more and more invites to review, bigger plans on keeping that Facebook group active and fun.

I had a friend from the UK come visit me in April and, by then, my physical health and total LACK of fitness (I’d put on 50kg since 2017 without knowing why – duh, stress) made showing her the sites an absolute nightmare. I had become agoraphobic, hated being around people, hated talking face to face or via the phone… hated existing. Yes, I got to the point where I would just sit on my couch and cry over the fact I existed and prayed… BEGGED not to.

Enter the burn out/ break down. I don’t know which label suits it better… maybe it was both? But I basically stopped getting off the couch. Stopped… everything.

I quit Facebook in the hopes that moving away from what I felt was a toxic environment would help… did it. But not enough. And it hurt that barely a soul from there noticed me missing. Now, I didn’t have hundreds of friends on FB, I stuck to mostly those I knew in person, who I studied with, etc. So about 75 people as friends… My family on there noticed me go, but knew why. Some of my close, local friends noticed too and reached out. A couple of interstate/ overseas friends did too. The person I ran the group for – who I had thought was a friend and who I had spent a lot of my own time and money trying to support – from them I got NOTHING. I wrote to say I had to step back for my own mental and physical health and that they would need to get someone else to help… they posted a “position available” on their group showing they OBVIOUSLY got my message. But a reply? A question of concern? A simple “Are you okay?”… zip. People I thought cared about me for me… not just for the free work I did just disappeared. This hurt and, naturally, added to my depression. I lost a lot of friends by quitting Facebook, but were they REALLY friends if this is how they treated me? I did, however, gain new friends who I had only seen as acquaintances. People who noticed me missing, noticed I’d gone, and reached out to ask if I was okay. What I gained from this is – Facebook is toxic and not a place to make/ keep friends. Find them elsewhere, avoid Facebook.

I spent months just being asleep. I’d sleep all night, get my kids ready for school, sleep on the couch until I had to go get them from school, sleep until dinner time, eat takeaway, sleep and repeat. For. Months. I still didn’t really notice a problem as I really wasn’t noticing anything anymore. I was just numb, tired, and wanted to not exist. I didn’t want to actually kill myself (thankfully) I just didn’t want to exist. I was useless, worthless, good for nothing, and unwanted, uncreative, untalented, etc. I will add that at the same time I was still getting 5 star reviews for my books… and that just gave me anxiety attacks as I really wasn’t as good as these kind souls thought I was.

Around August/ September last year I decided I had had enough of this numbness and so went to my GP. I’ve been avoiding my GP’s clinic as the person I usually saw left… then the person who replaced them left… and all in all it just added to my blankness. But I made an appointment with my original GP from the same clinic, waited a month – as it takes AGES to get to see her as she’s just that amazing – and got help.

Firstly, as a band aid, my Zoloft was upped to 100mg a day (from 50mg). The improvement was nearly instant. My numbness was losing its power over me. I got into a weight loss regime with my GP, got into seeing my Physio about my back and neck pain, tension headaches and the whole lot. I found myself again.

Now it’s not been an instant fix… I mean, it’s now February 2020 and I’m only just now feeling strong enough to get back into blogging, reviewing, etc. But I am getting better and getting my life back. And I am thankful I sought the help I needed. Though admit now that I took a break from my GP and Physio over the Christmas holidays so better pull my finger out and contact them again. 😀

Oh, and being someone who has always strived to seek the positive, even throughout last year, I have to say I found an amazing thing within myself. Now, as some might know, I’m a crafty person. And, yeah, I tend to obsess and hoard crafty hobbies. See the several suitcases full of old clothes I’ve collected to repurpose into rag yarn, bags, etc to keep them from landfill. 😀

Well, along those same lines, I found wire weaving and beading. Oh, and I have been avoiding the craft area of beading for DECADES as I felt it would be something I would seriously get addicted too and already had a lot of clutter. Well, yeah, I was right. I got into beading, I now own MILLIONS of beads and am obsessed with the damn things! BUT! I found a new love that helped me get out of the darkness. I buy old, often broken, necklaces from Charity Op Shops and I use them with wire to make Trees of Life.

pearl and red beads

One of my trees, it recently sold at auction for $75, all of which went to #authorsforfireys.

I just started doing it as a way to make Christmas presents for friends and family… and it grew from there. I’ve had commissions, I’ve got my art now hanging on walls and around necks in both Australia and America… and it’s gotten to the point I’ll be looking into creating an art studio in my shed and looking at the feasibility of opening a small business. I share my pieces on Instagram (the evil little sister of Facebook, I know) and recently gave my new love its own account called CraftilyRecycled. There is an Etsy shop of the same name where I hope to sell my pieces too. Plus I’ve been asked if I’d want to attend a sustainability fair in March… but that’s just too soon for me. I need to find my feet and my place in beading before I go THAT crazy.

I still do rag yarn, I still collect textile waste and hope to use it to make reusable gift bags to send my trees to their new owners in. Heck, I’ve even started repairing and remodelling old necklaces for friends to make into something new.

Kylie necklace

My friend had a broken necklace containing much loved beads… I restrung and remodelled it from a single string to this.

Sadly, old habits die hard and, yup, the majority of stuff I make and share I do for free. I’m trying to teach myself to ask for money (and the proper amount based on materials and time) but I’d much rather share than sell. One of my biggest downfalls as an author too. :-/

And so here I am. I’ve not yet recovered… but I am at least on the right path to recovery. I have my tree making (or as I like to call it: this crazy lady’s basket weaving) and I am finding myself again. I want to exist, and I want to take part in life again.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end… it’s been a while since I’ve written anything and so am pretty sure I waffled A LOT. But I wanted to be open and honest and share my personal hell with people in the hopes it might help someone going through their own hell. You are not alone, there are those who will help you… but you have to let them try.

Later this year there will be news on Bonnie’s Story coming out in paperback with a new cover… and possibly even news on book 3 of the Other World series – We Represent the Demon Guild.

Wee Tree in a Tin

Wee tree in a tin… a work in progress.

But, for now, more tree… This one is in a tin slightly smaller than a deck of cards and, when finished, will be auctioned off to raise money for the Australian bushfire recovery. So keep an eye on my twitter feed to see when that is. Yes, I still use Twitter. It is far more straight forward and honest as to what it is than Facebook will ever be and, for that, I am thankful. Yeah it still has trolls and idiots, but it also has mute and block.

Until next time,





Mental Illness – End the Stigma.

Mental Illness – End the Stigma.

Me being me I am a little slow on joining in the whole mental health awareness week on my blog. But I have been active with it on my personal Facebook page and had such success with a post there, I decided to post it here too.

How was it successful? Well, you will see I openly talk about my level of mental illness and invited others to do the same. I got some amazingly heartfelt and truthful responses (both out in public and in private) and feel blessed to have the friends that I have. I am not about to share their responses here… but would be interested to see if anyone else wants to join us in being so out there and open to help end the stigma on mental illness. Please note that this is a post about ENDING the stigma and so all comments that are deemed negative and inflamatory will be deleted. My blog, my rules. 😉

My post started with the following pic. Unfortunately I can’t reference it correctly as it came from another friend’s timeline. So I will just say this is not my picture, I did not create it and all kudos and credit goes to the actual creator – they are awesome!


And, yes, I totally agree with the words at the bottom and it got my usual oppinionated ranty self going and so I came up with the following. I am not ashamed of it, I will freely post it and be open and honest as I am who I am and in my life right now I just happen to need antidepressants.


Be truthful to who you are. Mental illness is an illness not just a state of mind you can snap out of.

Diabetics aren’t told “Just don’t eat cake”. Cancer patients aren’t just told “you shouldn’t have smoked” even when they never did…

So it pisses me off when I am told I don’t need antidepressants as a nice walk in nature and a good sleep will fix all that ails me. I have a chemical imbalance inside me. I fought using antidepressants for over a decade as it was deemed the “lazy” way out. I tried diet, exercise, karmic retribution, hobbies, crystals, aromatherapy, belief, sleep, sex, laughing, gut health and all the rest. I ended up making myself obese with comfort eating – and am still fighting this issue today and trying to stop it damaging all of me permanently.

So… hi, my name is Janis and I take antidepressants. I am currently on 25mg of zoloft a day and may soon need to up that as it’s now only just taking the edge off the dark despondancy that consumes me, rather than lifting me out of it, making me want to get out of bed, get dressed, eat, interact, not drive me car into a tree and all the other “fun” stuff I go through. I have “mild” depression and anxiety. This doesn’t mean I’m a little blue, it means I don’t want to curl into a ball and wait for the darkness to consume me every single waking moment of every day… just half the time.

I am a better person on zoloft, I am a nicer parent and I can actually see my life is important and worth putting on those big girl panties for and getting on with it.

Depression is a bitch – big black dog. Anxiety is a rabid, nasty, vicious black dog. These are my dogs. Your dogs will look, feel and act differently so don’t judge me on how you feel. I don’t judge you.

But I will try and help to remind you how awesome you are, how important you are and how you ARE worth it.


Until next time,


These memes help me get through my days as they help me keep it real.  


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Mental Health Week – judge not as it doesn’t make you the better person, it makes you the one with the problem.

Okay, so it is mental health week from October 5th to 12th and has been created to help lift the stigma from mental health and remove it from the taboo topics. This is an excellent idea, as people with mental health issues have enough troubles without being seen as the person with the problem by those who just don’t understand.

And as I’m not just an author, but one of those ‘one in four’ with a mental health issue, I decided I’d jump on board this particular band wagon and share a few things with you about mental health from my perspective. I’ll start by saying I am not an expert in mental health, I am not a councillor or here to offer anyone any medical advice. I just want to try and shed a little bit of light on what it’s like to have depression and anxiety, how it doesn’t make you a lesser person or a freak and… well, so what if it means you’re not ‘normal’, that is just the average marker for life, be abnormal and above average as it’s a heck of a lot more fun.

So here is my story. My name is Janis, I’m thirty eight years old, married and I have three kids. I’m tall, fat, and plain – I like to describe myself as a fat and frumpy housewife actually. All in all not about to stand out in the crowd for being an eye catcher (I mean, my height sort of does this, but people tend to look away after they see the face). I’m shy but make myself outgoing through almost twenty years of customer service (meaning I can hide easily behind looking normal and happy). Oh, and I suffer from chronic sinusitis meaning my twenty year career in ICT has come to a crashing halt as I can no longer work in air conditioned environments. It also means I have near constant headaches, can’t cope with dust, pollen, weather changes and so on. I can’t hold down a job due it too, but can at least try and be useful as a mum and a Haus Frau. It does mean money is tight and life can be tough, but when you look at other people around the world I’m a very lucky person indeed. Oh, I’m an author of, so far, two books too. Yay!

Most of the time this is all fine and I am okay with my lot in this world. Yes it’s not perfect, yes it’s not always fun and exciting… but it’s what I have, who I am and how I live.

Then there are the days I get visited by the black dogs. The days I wake up and just don’t see the point to it all. Those days of deep darkness trying to crush me into the complete and utter worthless nothing it wants me to think I am. And the darkness that likes making me angry so I try to fight it. As all that does is make me feel even more useless and hopeless. I call that black dog depression.

I’m very lucky when it comes to depression as I am considered only “mildly” depressed. This doesn’t mean I’m just a little bit down and could snap out of it if I wanted to. No, it merely means that when I do have the dark days that engulf me, swallow me whole and loudly point out all my flaws, how much I suck and what a loser I am… mild depression simply means I’m not constantly feeling that shitty. That I’m not constantly followed by that black dog. It’s more a monthly visitor that I have to acknowledge is there and wait patiently until it wanders off again. I have recently had to start taking a mild anti-depressant to help encourage the dog to leave me from time to time, but I do classify myself as being very lucky that I do get a break from its visits.

Other times, when life seems to be fumbling along just fine I suddenly start fearing and worrying the dumbest things. And the frustrating thing is I know they are dumb and irrational and I just can’t shake the near hysterical worry I get from them. Is this the day some idiot on the freeway is going to wipe me and the kids out as I drive home from school? If I walk in the park will one of the branches from the giant gum trees fall on me and crush me? What happens if someone in my family doesn’t wake up this morning and have died in the night? What about all the bills and obligations and possible bills and issues that might happen in the future? Will I have enough money to feed my family this week? Do they think it’s all my fault as I can’t get a job and therefore hate me for being so useless? That black dog I call anxiety and it’s been in my life for a while longer than depression. It has, sadly, had puppies who now follow my girls around. Heck, mine was a puppy I inherited too so it’s hardly surprising it gets passed along.

These are my two black dogs. I have accepted them as part of my life, despite not wanting them, as I know I can’t get rid of them completely… merely work around them when they’re visiting and not miss them when they’re gone.

Mental illness is an illness of the mind and comes in so many different forms, shapes and sizes there is no black and white answer that will cure all. Although I have friends who also suffer from depression, I can’t tell them to do what I do to chase my dog away, as it might not help them in the same way. What I can do is sympathise when they are having trouble, understand they’re having a bad time and just be there for them.

So, if you see a friend on social media who posts something like: “Dear world, f*ck off. That is all.” What will you do? Merely ‘like’ it to acknowledge you’ve read it? Comment with a smiley face or a ‘LOL’ as that person is always such a kidder and a joker and being funny? Sigh and give them a big lecture on how you find it so easy to be happy and not depressed and tell them to just buck up and get over it? Or, and this is my favourite (note sarcasm) one – simply unfollow them as they’re being so dark and negative and you don’t need such toxic people in your life. If only they could keep their dark thoughts and such things to themselves and off social media your life would be so much nicer and you’d be able to stay their friend. Yes, yes I have had people do this last one to me a few times… I’d call them friends but would be lying as real friends don’t do that.

What should you do if a friend posts something like that? Well, I’m not you so can’t tell you how you should react… but I can suggest the following. If you don’t feel comfortable commenting out in public, send them a private message simply asking if they are okay or if there was anything you could do to help. Yes you might cop abuse or even silence as a response… but you’ve still shown them someone noticed their outburst and is concerned. Don’t lecture them, don’t offer advice, simply offer to be there if they need an ear.

Me, I tend to leave a *hug* or ask if they are okay or similar to show I saw the post and am there for them. I don’t ignore it as I’m generally sure they have their own black dog visiting and although they’re unable to really talk about it, knowing someone is there, who understands and who accepts them in fair mood and foul, it helps. It really really helps.

You see, I use social media (mostly Facebook as I am only connected to actual friends and family and not the world in general there) to vent when my black dogs are visiting. I find those nasty, dark, eroding, corrosive thoughts better to be let out than kept in. Sometimes I can’t voice them so just bitch about the world in general. I do it on FB as it’s far better than keeping it in, far better than taking it out on someone face to face and far better than taking out on my kids. I can also delete the vent after writing it, rather than posting it. As sometimes simply writing it all down and removing all the blackness from within me is enough. I don’t post all my darkness, just some of it. And what I love is I have friends and family on there who see it as me having a bad day, see that my black dogs are with me and accepting it. Reminding me they’re there as friends and asking me if there is anything they can do. Friends like this are gold and if you’re like this – you are an awesome person and I thank you for being that way.

And you know what? Writing really does help me feel better. It is a therapy for me, an escape to somewhere I can just stop being me and let it all go. I recently read a blog post by Neil Gaiman about how Terry Pratchett writes angry and I totally got it. I get frustrated at my own flaws, at my issues and I then get angry at myself for not being able to stop being how I am, being unable to control my life or feel how I feel. But I can then slip into a different world and just write. I can stop being where I am and in a place I can’t control, I can become a god and make the world act the way it should. Not all of my writing comes across as angry, in fact my sense of humour tends to kick in and have a ball instead. Isn’t it amazing how many depressed people hide it in humour? Maybe laughter really is the best medicine… to some extent?

With anxiety, you can’t just tell people to stop being silly and just snap out of it. With depression you can’t just tell people to buck up and try to be a little more positive in life. Just in the same way that if you have a friend with diabetes who is having trouble with their blood sugar levels that day and therefore not feeling the best – you can’t just tell them to eat a doughnut and stop worrying. These are all illnesses, all real issues and all need to be accepted as who we are and make up the amazing person we are.

The biggest message I want to get out about the mental illnesses I know about personally, as I have them, is this:

You are not alone. No matter what those nasty thoughts in your head are saying, you’re not the only person in the world who can feel that crappy and worthless. That doesn’t mean you should just snap out of it as I know it’s not that easy. Just realise you’re not alone. Some of us understand. Maybe not exactly why you feel the way you do as we’ve not lived your life… but we understand that some days you’re just going to feel that way no matter what. And although those thoughts aren’t nice, it’s okay. You are not alone and you are worth the effort. You are not the toxic person, those who can’t accept or understand what you’re going through and so ignore you – they are the toxic people.

Be yourself, remember you are worth it no matter what those damned black dogs are saying and remember you are wanted, you would be missed and there are people there for you. And if you feel there aren’t, please contact someone. Here in Australia I suggest Beyond Blue, Lifeline or similar… overseas I’m sorry but I don’t know but maybe people will comment on this post and suggest places.

Our black dogs come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and shades. They are our dogs and so we know them better than anyone else does. Accept them as a part of your life, but don’t let them be the master of it – that’s your right, not theirs.

True friends accept you for who you are on sunny days and dark… and you are worth it. Never forget how awesome you are, even when those dogs are breathing heavily down your neck.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO.


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Posted by on October 7, 2014 in Writing


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