Creating a positive from a negative.

Dear Reader,

Today's post is late. And there's a reason.

I had originally penned my thoughts on the Australia Day debate: to change the date or not to change the date? (To boil it down to basics:  The meaning of the day is more important than sticking to a date that celebrates only part of our melting pot of cultures, and creates a day of mourning for our indigenous people - who, by the way, is the longest surviving culture in the world. Think of that. Wow! I think May8 (Maate!) sounds good. But recent worldwide events have overshadowed this (important) question.

Regular readers will know I suffer from anxiety, brought on by my previous job. After years of trying to cope with work stress and the weight of worrying about my patients, taking on their worries as my own, I broke. I took up writing, first as a distraction then a form of catharsis.

Recent global events broadcast live via social media, have re-ignited my empathy and worry - worry for refugees, worry for legitimate citizens born outside their place of residence, worry for women's rights, for gay rights, native land rights - all swept away with a stroke of a pen, defying even the courts of the land. (I was barely coping with similar things in my own country, but this latest onslaught, this is mega. This is beyond belief. This is overwhelming.)

I feel for the people of the world. I fear for the people of the world.

And Friday night I had a wake up call. I woke at 2.30am - sweating, with palpitations and pain. Stress? Migraine? Or...? My anxiety escalated.

An ECG was performed, with, shall we say, not perfect results. A blood test was ordered. Four agonising hours later, I was cleared. Not a heart attack. This time.

Tomorrow I see the doctor for a follow up and, most likely, a referral to a specialist. Was the ECG a false positive or is there something that needs attention? We'll also discuss over the counter medications and other reasons for the palpitations.

I've had another wake up call. And I've made a decision.

I will try not to dwell on the negative of the recent events but look to the positive: the resistance, the fight, the wins. Rather than share the negative posts and tweets of hell unleashed, I will endeavour to share the positive results - the solidarity and resistance.

I will try to relax and focus on the victories, my family, my friends and the good times we have. I can delve into antagonist's thought process in fiction - where I can explore them (and control them) in a safe environment and purge my soul of the anxiety. (Well, I'll try.)

Yesterday we had a few friends over to play board games. We introduced Terry to Steampunk Munchkin (she won). We were confronted by a most foul opponent of almost impossible strength:

A +5 radium-powered Robot Queen Victoria, empowered by Gear Beer and ready for a bar room brawl - defeated by the co-operation of all the players. Huzzah!

That, dear Reader, is how we can heal the world - by joining together against our common foe - hate and racism. Divided, we fall. Together we can triumph.

Photo ©2017 Karen J Carlisle All rights reserved.

A Chink in the Armour (aka anxiety sucks!)

The past few weeks have been exhausting.

Little things can rouse the black dog: library books not returned, car overheats, can't attend a friend's funeral. He pokes and prods, clawing away at my carefully constructed armour. Before long he's found that chink - a way in, allowing the smallest grain of doubt to niggle. And niggle it does. Endlessly.

The legs tick. The hand shakes. The heart thuds. With each quickened breath, the muscles stiffen and clench until the nerves complain. Pain spreads, first through the lower back, then through the chest. Grabbing. Spreading down the arm.

Worry is next. It's inevitable. No matter how much I try to distract myself, try to convince myself it is all in my head, I fail. The pain lingers, spreads, intensifies. A sense of dread.

Deep breaths. Soothing music. An overdue scrummage in the medicine cabinet - to avoid another long, bumpy ambulance ride, the swinging doors and and fluorescent lights. Each time there is a sense of guilt for wasting their time, as the nurses poke and prod me and hook me up to the machine. I feel like Frankenstein's monster waiting for the lightning to strike. Then, finally, the doctor says not to worry. All is okay.

There's a final growl from the black mutt. Self-judgement follows. Why do I feel I failed?

The Sorrow of Loss

James was a giant of a man. It wasn't hard to believe he'd been a policeman in the Sudan. Yet he was as gentle as a teddy bear with a cheeky grin that lit up those around him. I cherished his warm hugs - always guaranteed to cheer me up, no matter how exhausted or how disheartened I felt.

He smiled when I practiced my partially-remembered Dinka and always asked (genuinely) about my family. Family was important to James. Friends were important to James. His home country was important to James. He would often return to North Sudan, to help. This time he won't return.

Yesterday I received the news. James had died. He'd hidden much of his health issues, insisting on helping other. I was in shock. I'd grown to treasure my 'James hugs'. I will miss them.

My heart aches for his family - for Amel, his lovely wife, and his children. James only touched my life; he was a big part of theirs. I grieve with them as they organise their next steps without their husband and father. May God bless and look after them.

Today there is a hole in my heart.

Rest in peace James.