FOMO

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Our kids just spent two weeks in Japan together, as our daughter’s flight from Melbourne to Hobart took off I reached for my ‘phone and followed it on my Flight Tracker.

We can see the airport from our place, could actually see her plane approaching and watch it land- my husband saw it land, told me it landed  but the Tracker said it hadn’t- I believed the tracker! What a wake up call!

How much of reality are we missing as we choose to view our life and the lives of others via a device?

Calm water, sun shining, dogs having a ball on the near empty beach, and instead of letting the joy of it all engulf me, I am tripping over as I try to film it to show my husband.

Driving up the Far North Queensland coast as the Coral Sea comes in to view, glistening, but I miss seeing the tip of Port Douglas become visible as my husband tells me to photograph it. I look at the photo, but missed it in reality.

Travelling through Melbourne on  a tram, my husband has his map app open , tracking our journey, he doesn’t see the sites around us right out the window or the characters sharing our ride.

Meeting my granddaughter for the first time, I almost forgot my phone! Grabbed it though and took photos that we will treasure but it meant that one of the  first times I looked at her was through an iPhone 6s.

In this time of almost complete connectivity to each other all around the world, why is  it then that I spend a fair amount of time feeling just a little bit lonely?

Watching a movie or a TV show, my husband will often be looking at his ‘phone at the same time, me too sometimes.He puts his ‘phone so close to my face to show me a meme, I’d rather his face that close to mine with the imminent possibility of a kiss!

When we sit at the bench after work, a time we’d always used to talk and debrief and share the happenings of the day, my day seems less important than that of those on Facebook. I’ve noticed too how often people are in the same room and laughing, but not sharing the laughter, each is watching something different on their ‘phone. Surely the joy of a good laugh is having it with someone else?

My daughter was meeting a friend for lunch, the friend had lost her ‘phone- my daughter wondered how she would let her know if she was running late? How long should she wait before she worried or gave up? This an added layer of anxiety that has crept in for us all as we expect to be able to get in touch immediately. I remember telling mum I’d be home on the 3:15 bus, if I missed that 4:15 and so on. I moved to Darwin for a year and sent the odd letter and called every few weeks. I went to Thailand and got home before my postcard did. She wasn’t worried yet now she expects, well demands really, that we all text her as we board a plane and when we land so ‘she doesn’t worry’.

I’m not saying I’m anti-technology and I love that we can stay in touch so easily now, I love that the world is literally in our pockets at our finger tips but I do wonder if we’re losing touch with those right next to us to stay in touch with those who we would probably never call, visit or often don’t even know.

We have stopped asking  questions of those wiser than us ,preferring to quickly ‘google’ anything we want to know. What rich conversations are we missing out on as we head to Wikipedia instead of to our knowledgeable elders?  Who aren’t we meeting as we use our GPS when we used to stop and ask a real person for directions?

As I ponder this I realise that I’m suffering from FOMO- not brought about my friend’s holiday snaps on Facebook and instagram, or the steaming coffee shots followed by the cocktail later in the day, or the celebrity stories of having it all. Nope, I’m fearful of missing out on my life, of missing out on contented moments with the love of my life, of truly listening to my children when they are talking to me, of meeting new people, of gaining knowledge from my friends:  I’m fearful of missing out on NOW!

So I’m going to limit the device use and enter into a contract with myself to be with people not screens, perhaps I’ll call it INMO- I’m Not Missing Out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Options

choices.pngGenes are a funny thing. I’m not sure just how much they have to do with mental health but if I had to hazard a guess based on my own lineage I’d say they are instrumental.

While it was never actually articulated , my dad definitely lived with both depression and anxiety, I know this now with the gift of hindsight, and not just because I asked my nurse friend what his prescription drugs were for. He spent weeks not leaving the house except to drink at the weekends and then crawl back onto his bean bag in front of the tele until the next weekend arrived.

My mum’s a  funny character and again when I revisit my childhood, adolescence and young adult years, I can attribute much of her behaviour to the same demons. She was so anxious when her house was for sale that she hid in my brother’s wardrobe while the agent showed potential buyers around. We spent time told to be silent and lay down on the floor when visitors knocked at our door, friends were not allowed to stay for meals and sleepovers were out of the question. One of my biggest regrets is from the time when she passively attempted to end her own life by not treating her diabetes, and ended up very very sick in hospital. When she was eventually moved from the ICU to a ward to recover the nurse asked me did I think she was depressed ( dad had died a nasty death two years prior) I answered no. I had not yet even began to understand my own battles at that stage so I certainly couldn’t recognise them in anyone else. I was swamped with my own grief from losing dad and was in no position to comment on anyone’s else state of mind. Mum is still reclusive, guarded, overly private and confidential and I wonder now if she’d got some support back then would  her years have panned out differently?

I finally realised I wasn’t okay after listening to Andrew Fuller, a prominent psychologist, talk about mental well-being. He talked about ways to check in with yourself and one resonated deeply with me “when did you stop singing in the car?” As well as being a boating family we were always a family with music around, the radio always on and mum and dad singing when they were in good spirits, and dad whistling his way around the place too in his lighter days. I have always loved a good sing and in the car on my own was and continues to be no less attractive than with friends and family. So when I heard these words my journey of self awareness began. My next clue was a friend pointing about my extreme weight loss as I was obsessed with walking the hills around my house, the biggest clue was when I thought I might like a ‘minor’ car crash, I didn’t want to die, I just wanted to be left alone for awhile.

I could go on for pages about my brothers, we’re a boating family and it’s suffice to say that they are definitely in the same boat as they rest of us, possibly a little further out to sea though…

Enter the next generation, my children. Fabulous, gregarious, intelligent, funny, caring they almost sound too good to be true. But my daughter hasn’t escaped from the tendrils of anxiety. She even succumbed to the Black Dog in grade 7. But I always knew this about her, I saw the signs being a consummate anxiety sufferer by now, she knew I suffered too and so she told me when she was not ok. She told me!

My boy though, he didn’t tell me, and I didn’t ask. We had what I thought was a great open relationship- he told me lots of things, which I now think of as distractors, deflectors from the real him. Through his writing he has now told me that he’s right there alongside the rest of the family, for better or worse he’s trapped in the web of inane insecurities, constant self reflection and the battle to simply feel content.

So where to now? I can choose to wallow in self doubt about my parenting, dive head first into a bubbling pot of self deprecation, and finally drown under  a tidal wave of self hate. Or I can remember that it’s ok to feel anxious sometimes, that the feeling will go away, that there are more highlights than bloopers in the film reel of my life so far, and I can share this with my son so that he too can rise above and break out from the web of fear and apprehension that anxiety weaves. I choose option two!

Rocket Man

space stationSo discombobulated, I can’t think straight, I can’t eat. My brother came down and ‘let’ me tell him about mum. He was nasty- I know it’s because he’s an emotional luddite but it was still horrible. My little sister is coming home for Christmas, but she’s staying at a hotel instead of with mum so she doesn’t get stuck with our brother too ( 53 and lives with mum!!). Mum’s sad about that now- even though she understands that she’ll actually get to spend more time with my sister as she’ll come and get Mum and take her out each day while she’s down. Our brother made it very clear he wouldn’t be going out of his way just because it’s mum’s last Christmas, but he’ll go out of his mind if the rest of us do stuff with her and he’s left out.

Parents are supposed to die, it’s still not ok when it’s happening, but it is a normal part of living.I can do death- I know my feelings are normal reactions to learning that my mum is on limited time. But why oh why do others have to complicate everything with selfish attitudes and ostrich behaviours? A lighthouse doesn’t seem far enough away at the moment, might need to consider a space station….

From Palm Trees to Snow.

imageWe’re home. It was 6•c when we landed last night, it’s about 12•c now! Certainly appreciating the 8 days we had of perfect sunny days with temperatures of 30+ .The dogs were wrapt to see us, our son was out and our daughter won’t be home until next weekend, but we’re here and happy. I love Port Douglas . We booked next years trip before we left but of course we don’t know with an certainty what this coming year holds and wether we’ll be able to go. But it’s good to have something positive booked to look forward to. So for now it’s back to it- gym, groceries, washing and catching up with mum. No matter the weather life goes on😄

Hooked on a feeling

imageIt’s back- that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach, that subtle gnawing that says things are not ok. I managed the initial guilt of me on holidays while cancer gallops merrily across my mum’s body. I calmed myself when my son rang with the fabulous news of his upcoming interview for the uni of his choice, though I was thinking ‘ how can you contemplate moving away when your grandmother is dying?’ I have justified every happy moment up here as ‘gathering my strength for what’s to come’ I woke from cruel dreams of mum looking fabulous while explaining to me how her end will come, not with a bang but a long drawn out whimper. And when I call her today I know she’ll say she’s fine and want only to hear news of my holiday. But I’ve got a feeling there’s a lot more she needs to say

Please don’t put me underground

imageI don’t want you to think I’m a whinger or a pessimist, in fact I am the exact opposite, at times positive to a fault. I’ve had a fabulous day,my school had it’s annual fair which is such an amazing community effort. It warms my heart to see so many people come together for a common cause. I’ve been comfortably busy all day, with no spare room in my brain for maudlin thoughts. Then came the drive home. I was quietly content, very pleased with how the day had gone. My kids and husband came along to the fair and helped out- one of the many times when my work and home life melded seamlessly. My playlist kept me smiling- some Arctic Monkeys,a bit of Temper Trap and even a walk down memory lane with Bruce Springteen. Then Megan Washington was soulfully singing ‘Underground’. This is an amazing song about what she wants to happen  when she dies. The chorus begins with ‘if the day is sunny let my father say some words and if the night is starry let my mother tell you all her stories’ . I lost my dad 16 years ago and it certainly doesn’t look like mum will be around to tell any stories, not that I expect nor want her to bury her children, but I’d hoped she might tell a story at my 50th next year. And with that chorus my contentment was gone and reality was back. I so don’t want my mum to die.

Mother or daughter? At 49 you’d expect to know who you are, wouldn’t you?

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I want to cry for my mother like the daughter that I am. I want to be sad and angry and I want it to show. I want to tell people to get over the pathetic things they worry and moan about. I want to have a tantrum! After all my mum has been dealt a pretty crap hand and as her daughter I think I’m rightly pissed off about it!

But… when I see my children’s faces, when I hear the sadness and fear in their voices as they process the grim facts of their grandmother’s illness, when I hear the tears in my daughter’s words on the ‘phone and my son putting off hearing the latest news I remember I’m a mother. The greatest gift of all is to be just that- my children are by far the achievement I am most proud of and I know that my tantrums and unkind judgements have to be put to the side for them. Just as mum has put aside hers for me.