The reality of the Christmas season…

It’s dark, the rain is splattering against my bedroom window, and I’m once again wrapped in blankets with an unhappy stomach. On my bed there are chord sheets of Christmas carols, some lush products, craft stuff for Guides, Paddy the iPad, my phone, while on the floor are three bags filled with shopping from today and throughout the past year that will be Christmas presents.

I haven’t written on here for a long while because I didn’t really know how to articulate everything.

In October, I had a breakdown. There were a lot of triggers in a short space of time and I think with stress of one of my jobs and not having friends around much it just escalated quickly and suddenly. I came off facebook and one day just got in my car and drove for hours. I didn’t really eat for several days.

Since then, I’ve been better, but still struggling with anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve not been able to be involved much with church partly because of the panic attacks, and partly because of work.

There have been a lot of things going on. I have two incredible jobs which I’ve dreamed of and had given up on hope of finding. I have been truly blessed this past summer, and I’ve now passed probation of one of them. I really, really hope that it will work out so I can stay after my contract is up because I love it so much there. The other job I’m still on probation, and it was a tough start for a lot of reasons. It’s still tough, but I hoping it’s going to be rewarding. And then there is volunteering. That’s been hard. I’m exhausted, and we are still short on volunteers which means I haven’t been able to take the steps back I wanted to.

So I’m doing lots of great stuff, and it’s all good. But it means from Monday-Friday I have no social life. Free evenings are rare. By the weekend, I’m exhausted. And everyone (including me) is busy. Most people have families they want to do stuff with at weekends. I don’t have that, so weekends have been incredibly lonely. I think I had this ridiculous dream after 3 years working pretty much every weekend of having friends who would want to go on walks, cinema trips and music gigs because that’s what it used to be like. Now I truly am that tragic spinster. I really need to get some cats.

The other thing that’s been going on is that my Dad has had some health issues. If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you’ll know that my Dad and I don’t have the easiest relationship. We have had months of trying to get him to a specialist here in the UK, tests and consultations and waiting. So much waiting.

The events of the last couple of months have really shown me how much I’m lacking in friends. The friends that have ‘been there’ – the ones that have checked in, who have text back when they see a missed call – they’ve all been people who are too far away to be able to do anything. However you know you have a good friend when despite being on a whole other continent they are texting you almost daily to check in.

And I get the “FOMO” thing. It is so hard at this time of year to see people happy and with friends and family. You know you’ve been replaced and forgotten when it’s there to see on social media. On the days when the anxiety and depression has really peaked, it’s just like twisting a knife in a wound to see. It makes it so abundantly clear that you are all alone, and if you weren’t here – life would go on perfectly fine without you, because it already is. It’s a really horrible thing when you feel so resentful of people that you love.

And do you know what, I know that in the past, people have contacted me saying how jealous they are of me when I’ve posted stuff on my blog and social media. It is really easy to portray this whitewashed version of our lives.

So though this post has been sitting in my drafts for a week, I am going to publish it for that reason. Because I want you to know, just in case you are feeling crappy too that you are not the only one. If you have a family that have mostly stopped speaking to each other and you only see at funerals. Solidarity with you – I’m in that place too. If you are living with mental health illness. Solidarity with you – I can empathise. If you are single and trying to navigate what life looks like when you are alone – I’d love some advice on how you deal with that.

Oh, and although I won’t be alone on Christmas Day, I will be on twitter as much as I can be to provide some company to those who are. I’ve been doing #JoinIn since Sarah Millican started it, and I can see how much it is needed more than ever this year.

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The one where I’m a proud sister…

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People ask me all the time ‘Why brunettekoala?’ Well the picture above semi-explains that. Long ago, when I was 21, my hair was dyed brunette and my 14 year old sister was a very tall long limbed teen. She started handing me up her clothes from around the age of 13. We called her the Giraffe. Our little brother was the mischief maker, and we called him Monkey. They decided that as I was small, and liked to sleep (they were kids who liked to wake up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning while I was a teen who felt that getting out of bed before 9 on a Saturday for no reason was all kinds of wrong). I also was the hugger of the three of us. So they decided I would be koala. They even programmed the housephone so that if I called from my flat in Aberdeen or my mobile it came up as ‘Koala’.

Today, that cute (but slightly stinky) almost 11 year old is the same age as I am in that picture. My little brother stole my heart just as our sister did. I was 11 years old when he was born, and there are many pictures of me holding him as a baby. He was a terrible sleeper and often I would be the one to get him out of his cot in the mornings. I would feed him his breakfast – turning spoons of disgusting baby food into planes, trains and race cars. I took him for walks through the woods at the back of our house and he would only sleep if I did the woods first and then back around the neighbourhood – he would not sleep if I did neighbourhood before the woods. He became obsessed with trucks when he was a toddler – we had to wait every Monday for the bin lorry to come so he could watch it reverse in front of our house before we could go anywhere. He learned about the christening of Eddie Stobart lorries, and soon had everyone keeping an eye out for their names so we could cross them off his checklist. He was a bigger chatterbox than my sister and I (which my friends didn’t believe until one time they spent a car journey with him…and left the car shellshocked). He went to A&E so many times that the nurses there knew him by name. Why believe us when we tell you the toaster is hot, when you can stick your hand in it and turn it on to find out?

Monkey, you taught me how to rock a baby to sleep. You made me learn how to build toy garages because well…Dad tried, and he superglued himself to it. And then fix toy cars. And trucks. Often early on Sunday mornings. I know all the characters in the Teletubbies and their favourite things because of you. You taught me how to turn a buggy into a racing car, complete with race car noises which made you giggle and laugh when we went out and about. You were my buddy for watching Top Gear with. I still remember you calling me in Aberdeen upset when Richard Hammond got injured in the jet car crash. You and our sister encouraged my love of Winnie the Pooh, and I still remember how the two of you were so miffed with our parents when they refused to let you club together to get me a giant  stuffed Pooh Bear from the Disney store for my 16th birthday. You always gave me a hug when I asked for one. Even if you grumbled and sighed. And when I returned to Aberdeen for my final year of university, you put all your Winnie the Pooh toys in my bed with mine ‘so they wouldn’t get lonely’. And then you called me up to tell me that they missed me even if you didn’t so I needed to come home to visit. When kids teased you, you still remained kind. When you didn’t understand why people didn’t see the world wasn’t as black and white as you saw it, you still stood up for what you believed was right. You were afraid sometimes, but you still tried. And you always had a reason for everything. Why are you crying about being at nursery? Because someone needed to hold your Mum’s shopping list at Tesco. Why aren’t you going to sleep? Because Mum & Dad aren’t home yet, and you needed to know they got home safely. Why are you calling your 21 year old sister at 5.30 p.m.? Because she’s usually home for tea, and you better check up to make sure she’s ok. And then tell her off for not calling.

Of my four siblings, I’ve seen you go through the most challenges. I’m insanely proud of you Monkey. And I’m glad I get to be your big (even if I’m the shortest) sister.

Happy birthday xx

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The one where a brother visits…

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So clearly, a big massive blogging fail this week! APOLOGIES! But I have some good excuses and one is pictured here. That is the rare sighting of a sibling people. A sibling in the same place as I am. I came home from work on Sunday evening to find out that Brother 2 was coming down. Yes, I already had a huge list of things planned for my two days off this week (like choosing and purchasing new glasses, getting organised for International Women’s Day, writing blog posts etc) but suffice to say that when I returned home from a meeting and Monday’s errands to find my brother on the sofa the rest of my to-do list got benched.

Especially when Brother 2 asked if we could go to the Zoo today. People…you know I love the Zoo. You know I love opportunities to keep learning how to use the fancy camera. How could I say no? And I’m so glad we went, because for the first time in YEARS I managed to get some photos of the otters. Genuinely, I got so excited my Mum gave me the eyeroll. She doesn’t understand the frustration of the otters hiding from your every visit for years on end.

So here we are, it’s 10 p.m. the night before I start my work week (and tomorrow is also International Women’s Day) and I’ve still to put together my inspiring woman story to share, I’ve not blogged at The Girlguiding Life or done a quote of the week, I’ve not purchased any glasses and I’ve not looked at stuff for Surf Camp.

I do however have some aching legs and a memory card full of photos to upload and edit.

I also can’t wait to share what the meeting was about. I’ve been in talks for months with a friend of a friend who I connected with through twitter (yay for Twitter!) and the time has come to put an idea I’ve held onto for years and actually attempt to make it a reality. I’m nervous, because the fear of failure is strong – too often it paralyses me into inaction. If you are in East Central Scotland, I really, really hope you’re going to like what it is and get behind it to share it with your pals.

 I feel like I’m missing so many friends this week, so please leave a comment and tell me how your week has been. Is there anything I can pop into my jar of gratitude, or be praying for? Let me know, I love hearing from you Koala Tree followers. 🙂