Day 2 – PM – October 2, 2018

I accidentally took Seroquel at 3pm today.

Let me explain:
I had Valium at, let’s say say 2pm.

I then spend some time sobbing in public. I then spend more time sobbing in private.

So at, let’s say 3pm, I ask for more Valium but they say no, how about Quetiapine. I don’t know what Quetiapine is because everything has a million names and all that. I just say:

Just give me  anything.

I sleep until 7 when Jeff arrives. He sits patiently while I sleep. We have dinner together, mum’s brodo (her mini meatball soup), and he even brought me some jasmine from mum’s garden. It’s the most positive thing about that house. I should have PTSD because of that house. Maybe I do. I go there every day. I hate that house. I FUCKING HATE THAT HOUSE BUT I GO THERE EVERYDAY.

Jeff and I watch half of Survivor together until it’s time for him to leave. Guests have to leave at 8pm.

After Survivor I hang out with “the group” in the common room (I must give them a name). We order pizza at 10pm. It feels naughty.

I go to sleep listening to Cold Chisel and it makes me want to go back to that time of play and danger. I want danger.

Day 2 – October 2, 2018

People who don’t know what bi-polar means, or even bi-polar 2, for that matter, and just think of it as anxiety or a bit of OCD or being “on the spectrum”, which seems the latest catch phrase if assholes, say things like “doesn’rt crying just make you feel better? Don’t you get it our of your system?”

No, crying just makes your make your mascara run.

And I have nothing to get out of my system.

I spilled coffee on myself and on my bed this morning.


Last night, late, I sat with a group of patients. Even in one day I could tell h=they were the interesting ones.

There was the youngish Syrian who assures us he suffered not a bit getting our of Syria.

The Macedonian who doesn’t trust the doctors. He’s a doctor, philosopher.

A Mauritian who I talk to about Creole and languages.

The drug fucked one – he’s like the big Indian in Cuckoo’s Nest. He could barely eat his jelly. But he seemed much better than earlier.

The other Jo who talks too much is just chirpy. I guess I’m a little envious.

Another woman who brought out a bunch of Orthodox icons for us to admire. I tell her I’m an atheist but by the end we decide I’m just agnostic. Feels like I climbed a run or two up from hell.

PS. The smoking pregnant woman turns out to not be pregnant. I asked her when she was due and she laughed and told me it’s the meds; she gets it all the time.

Lunchtime BP
Sitting 120/80
Standing 110/80

I’m drinking lots of fluids because they’ve warned me.

I also suspect this is higher than usual because of the morning’s activities.

Jeff visited last night and it was some of the nicest time we’ve spent together in ages. We talk about work a bit, about the Jen Cloher show on Friday night that I might get to go to if I’m allowed leave. We talk in the room, he gave me some lollies that someone brought back from the Melbourne show – some Bertie Beetles.

One of the symptoms of bipolar disorders is making rash decisions, like leaving your husband. But I don’t think it was rash.

We shared a plate of sticky date pudding in the meals room and I had fridge sandwich for dinner again. I don’t want to sit with strangers at dinner. Feels weird.

I made a third coffee and take it to the communal table upstairs. Nobody is there so I figure they must be smoking or at breakfast. It pays to eat breakfast and smoke, I guess.

I wan to cry again but I’ll only do it in my room. Too bad I do it several times at the communal table today, luckily not facing the nurse’s fishbowl.

Today there is hopelessness that I can’t chart, not even on the line chart whiteboard chart at group. my meds have been halved and c=doubled. That could explain ir.

I’m alone inside my own head. My nurse just came to chat, I tell her rubbish I know she wants to hear because telling them about the hopelessness achieves nothing.

I should be able to do things other than be in my own head.

Today my first session is group problem solving and I’m going to attend au-naturelle, diazepam free!

Good Luck Suckers!

Day 1 – October 1, 2018

Blood Pressure 92/68

She takes my blood pressure four times. I don’t want to tell my nurse not to be to worried, that my blood pressure is always low, but I don’t want to give her a hard time. She knows what she’s doing and I don’t want to make her feel like I know better.

But I am the person who brought her own Nespresso machine to a psychiatric hospital.

I did.


I get to use it in the common room area right now because of the long cord and the potential for self harm but let me tell you that if I am going to off myself, wrapping a Nespresso cord around my neck won’t be my go to. Imagine the epitaph: “She was alright. Died by coffee machine cord.” That reminds me, I must look up how many people died by phone charger or coffee machine cord.

We don’t look at each other walking down the corridors. It’s my first day. I don’t want to stand out. I don’t want anyone to see me. I don’t want to upset anyone. I apologise for asking anything like “could I grab some moisturiser” (it’s in a glass container so I can’t have it in my room. Not ever. I think death by glass is more common than death by Nespresso cord. I don’t need Google to tell me that.

I’ve missed breakfast because who has breakfast? How hungry can you be after sleeping, after doing nothing.

I don’t want to look crazy so I got some nice “leisure wear” from Cotton On Body and shoes from Target – they look like vans but without laces. I mean, if they won’t let me have a phone charger, what are the chance of laces? I got some nice rose gold Fakenstocks from Big W. They are very uncrazy looking.

I’m having my second coffee sooner than I would normally because I fear they’ll take the machine away and I don’t want to bother them to have it back later.

I’ve signed up for group at 10.30 “Coping with uncertainty”. But first I’m reading about “Little known punctuation marks you should be using”, and trying to work out how to add the interrobang into my keyboard. Jeff tells me he’s worked it out and will show me. Huzzuh!

It’s nearly 11am and I’ve had to miss group because I had to see my new shrink. I honestly don’t think psychiatrists know anything about psychiatric patients. She talks the same shit they all do – download this app, think of all the good things in your life, learn mindfulness. Honestly, if anything is going to make me want to coffee machine cord myself, it’s that shit.


It’s seems 1, or 2 if I beg. I’m a begger.

I’m typing down in the meal room. What do I eat? Do I eat? Do I have the fries? Do I think about keto in here? Who do I sit with? Do I sit alone or with others? The younger people, the older ones? Do I wait for people to come to me?

It’s okay, I’ve waited long enough that the room’s clearing out anyway.

A young pregnant woman goes outside to smoke in the courtyard. Does it matter? I mean she’s in a psych hospital on a mound of meds. She’s some sort of crazy. Could smoking be worse?

I forgot how just 2 valium can actually affect you when you’ve been weaned off 6.

So here goes. Lunch.

I sit on my own and a young guy sits near me. I pull out my phone, my kindle app, and read instead. It looks like if you smoke outside you get to make friends. So I think I’ll be alone a lot.

There’s a blonde woman on a couch opposite me who’s crying and I don’t know what to do. I mean, do we do something. The others aren’t doing anything but 2 nurses run towards her and give her a tablet out of one of those tiny meds cups. She’s being looked after but I feel I should have asked her if she needed anything. Is this what I am now? Have I become the person who stops asking?

There’s a lot of crying tonight, and people dressed in their jammies, which is forboten, I thought.

So because my blood pressure is so low, i get it measured twice a day.

PM BP 90/60 – shit.

I’ve come to my room to possibly do some crying. Alone. Not like those others.

10mg of Diazepam is not enough to stop me from crying.

Patti Smith wrote Horses when she was 29.


30 September 2018 – The Day I Tell My Parents

Before intake

Only parts of my mother’s house are still a shrine. Mostly I find little school photos, smaller than passport photos, tucked into the corners of photo frames around the house. A photo of the grandmother I didn’t like much, it’s one of these re-colourised photos with rose red cheeks and lips.

My old bedroom isn’t much of a shrine anymore. There’s a double bed now and my desk’s been removed but the corner bookshelf’s still there with my first and only Encyclopedia – not the Britannica –  we didn’t value that sort of quality, that was for the rich kids who didn’t make it to uni anyway. I don’t even know what mine are called, but before Google, before Altavista, Before Hotbot, Before Asking Jeeves, the Encyclopedia is how dad and I settled arguments. Oh, and every year’s edition of the Guinness Book of Records.

“Look it up in the books, you’ll see.” Between those books, we settled a lot of arguments.

I’m being checked into the psych hospital.
BP 110/70
Standing BP 100/60

The nurse tells me to be careful when I stand up, to hold onto the arms of my chairs. It certainly explains why I fall, I say and laugh.

We tell mum and dad about it after the BBQ (my last meal) and during coffee and cannoli. On reflection, I should have waited until I’d finished my cannoli, because I don’t get to enjoy it this time but I tell mum it’s beautiful before we start getting into it. I finished the cannoli after the talk, after the tears.

I tell them I’m going to hospital for three weeks. We were going to tell them it was just for a meds change. But I break down and cry and tell them I’m depressed and need help.

“Pensa cosi buoni,” mum says, sounding like every shrink ever.

“Speak in English,” I warn her, because I want Jeff to know, I want him to experience what I experience. I want him to know the shit they’re saying to me, have been saying to me forever. Dad just rests his head in his hands and I don’t know if he feels bad or sad.

They mean well, of course.

“What did we did wrong?” dad asks, finally, genuinely burdened, because he knows what he did.

“Nothing,” I assure him, because I’m just about to be admitted into a psychiatric hospital and don’t want to get into it. “It’s not about you or mum. Some of us are diabetic, some of us have depression and want to kill ourselves.”

“Great, brava, well done.” He’s ashamed at me for trying to kill myself.

So am I, I guess. This is why I don’t tell them things. This is why I want them to speak in English, so Jeff can hear the shame my father feels.

“Say it in English,” I say, a hint of a sneer.

I guess I want my father to feel some shame.

“Have you self-harmed?” the nurse says during admission after we leave the BBQ. Except that’s not wha he says. He says something I don’t understand, something that I have to repeat, like I do when I need to understand something. “Hav you participated in non-accidental body injury.”

What the fuck does that even mean?

Jeff explains it to me. I say no.

It’s awkward having Jeff there while I talk to the nurse. There are things he doesn’t know, like the secret packets of Valium, the number of Valium I take a day (he said 6, I tell the truth). I ask if he wants to leave and he asks if I want him to leave and I say no, because I’ve hurt him enough.

The nurse asks if I participate in any other body harm.

“Like tattoos and piercings?” I wonder aloud, because I honestly don’t know.


“Yes,” I laugh because I just realised. Of course I fucking have.

I cut my laugh short because I don’t want him to thing I’m McMurphy crazy, you know, big, loud, sexual, dirty, and outrageous, an anarchist, a trouble-maker.

Anyway, self-harming is lame. That’s why you get artists to harm you instead. In the last month alone I have been arted 4 times. My harming is pretty.

There’s a woman here called Jo, not me, another Jo. She talks a lot and it shits me a bit. It’s not her first admission. Troppo conferenza and all that. Jeff’ll understand this.

I wonder if this admission won’t work. I wonder if I need another admission. So I ask for more Valium, but I’ve already had my allotment for the afternoon and I have to wait til later.

I also have this fear that I won’t want to leave here. It seems safe anyway. It seems that I won’t be able to disappoint anyone here.

I go for some water. We’re not allowed glass so everything is plastic. There are red ones and blue ones and I take blue because red is supposed to mean aggression, and it makes you hungry.

There’s woman next to Jo who’s crying and talking. I just want to go to my room and sleep but it’s discouraged. It’s better to be in public.

I didn’t expect it to be co-ed. Not sure why. But it’s nice and clean and private and I have my own room and my own shower and my own toilet and I got to bring my own Lush soap and Nespresso Machine that they’ll bring out in the morning when I need it and then they’ll put it away on account of the cords.

At the moment I’m not allowed any cords or cables in my room – no chargers, no headphones. But they let me keep my octopus charger because it’s so small that I probably can’t hang myself with it anyway, even if I wanted to.

I wonder if Jeff is as okay as I think he’ll be. He said he cried last night and I wonder who it was for.

Tonnes of posters on the walls in the common areas that have been coloured by patients, I assume. There’s one that’s a mindmap with the word “Mindfulness” in the middle, surrounded by a bunch of words I can’t read from this distance.. And this pretty one that says “Take a moment to Breathe” and I realise that I regularly forget to breathe and I gasp

Ritz crackers, Waterthins, Anzac cookies, a bock of Cadbury chocolate. I avoid them all and want to go to my room and read or watch a movie tonight.

I want to ask for my Valium again but it’s only been 45 minutes since I asked last and I’m ashamed like they’ll tell me off “tutt, tutt, try some mindfulness instead.”

I want to yell out that they have no idea, that two 5mg diazepam is hardly enough and that some of us need more and to just fucking give it to me. I think they’re wrong about addiction and that’s it’s my business. “What do YOU care if I take too many? I’m the one paying for it anyway.”

Now I’m angry because I can’t control my own delivery of fucking Valium and I wonder if being here is worth all of the angst. When I could take Valium when I wanted to, things were better.

Should I go and ask. I had asked at 5.45pm and it’ 6.45pm. Maybe I’ll ask again at 7pm.

But they’ll only give me 10mg. I want to fade away to nothing.

The man in the room next door is sitting at his desk IN THE DARK with his door open. I don’t know what to make of this.

29 September 2018 – The day before

I’m at the nail place, the crappy one I swear I’ll never go to again but here I am.

I tell her I don’t want any colour, that I’m going to hospital. I just want her to get rid of the SNS and cut the nails short enough so I have nothing to chew. Not even a loose cuticle.

She’s little; a little Vietnamese nail girl who probably has a science degree. I expect her to ask me why I’m going to hospital. They have no filters mostly. But I think it’s the married ones with kids who ask the most. Instead she asks, “when you go to hospital?”

“Tomorrow,” I say, and give some sort of benign smile.

She’s wearing these blue and gold earrings. They look cheap, like all that yellow gold jewellery you see in Vietnamese jewellery stores in Footscray look cheap but are probably expensive. They dangle gently, the blue inside the gold circle, like Saturn surrounded by a ring.

She’s dremelling my nails. But I’m lulled by the smell of nail lacquer, all the glues, and I close my eyes while she scrapes and shapes. I’m getting a pedi too. Because I don’t want to be barefoot in the hospital with crappy dry feet that look like I work on a farm,

I don’t think of anything. No, that’s not true. I think about how I’m going to hospital tomorrow, abandoning everything. Everyone. I think about how I can’t believe it’s come to this.

I open my eyes and she’s watching me, massaging my hands with cheap pink moisturiser.

“Tomorrow,” she repeats, not like it’s a question, and rubs my hands as though she’s saying, “you can count on me to make you pretty.”

There was a time when all I wanted to do was speed everywhere

I fixed things
I redecorated (still do a bit)
I cooked
I watched foreign movies – at the cinema!
I made the bed every day (still do)
I had friends
I fucked
I showered every day
I listened to music (I would rather die than stop learning about new music)
I walked the dogs
I looked for new projects and did them
I read (more)
I wrote (more)
I went to work
I wanted to have brutal conversations with interesting people
I made cool embroidered toys and shit
I didn’t want to sleep ever – I still want to stay up all night and be manic.
I thought that weed and smack and valium users were such dicks because who would want to sit back and be mellow and not talk alot and fix things, and write, and walk, and fuck, and talk about new music, and cook (not eat) and think, and have friends ?

I get it now.

All I want to do it be mellow.



Talk to nobody, just my dogs, not even my cats cos they be bitches.

I hope I write lots again.

Should I post this on Facebook? (Spoiler alert, I did)

I want to post on Facebook:
Hey who wants to go out tonight?
One last drink?
Maybe 3 or 5?
For old time’s sake.
We’ll talk shit.
I promise not to talk about my feelings.
I promise not to talk about how I’m going to a psych hospital.
I promise not to talk about how most of the people I know haven’t said anything to me but that I really appreciate the ones who have.
I promise to talk about, I don’t know, books.
Oh wait, who reads these days anyways?
Maybe we could talk about the sunshiny day today, because it really is.
Or how my dad’s broad beans are yummy green reminders of Spring and early summer and the bees that never sting anyway.
I promise not to talk about how I worry about who will do my eyebrows in the psych ward.
I definitely won’t talk about how I probably won’t be able to follow keto (“erm, hi, Nurse Ratched, so, I’m not coeliac or anything, but I can only eat meat, fat and *some* veggies, no sugar, I’ll bring my own”).
If you come drinking with me tonight, I promise not to mention how I’m worried that nothing will change.
I *definitely* won’t tell you about how I’m worried that everything will change, then I’ll come out and nothing will have changed – like when you go on a holiday, or a retreat, how YOU change but everything else stays still. I won’t talk about that for sure.
I won’t talk about how, despite everything, his worry, sadness, all that, that Jeff is going to be really really relieved to have me gone, just for some respite. That’s something we will never talk about.
I’ll tell you about this pretty honeyeater, or maybe it was just a finch, it had a yellow and black check, snag me a most beautiful tune and as soon as I grabbed my phone to take a photo, it went away.
I might ask you if I should go to Peter Aexander to get proper PJs, because I’ve just got Jeff’s cast off tees for home and some of dad’s undies (pre-worn, don’t be a weirdo).
But I will get a little drunk and sloppy. Who’s in? Maybe the Rev for fish tacos?

I don’t know what this one’s about so stop asking

I lie in bed and work. I work harder alone. I can focus. Sometimes there are no other thoughts when I focus. Then you come home – for lunch, for checks – you’re smiley. It’s not fake smiley, but I can’t help thinking that it is a little. Like your smiles might rub off on me (they do until you leave the room). So I say HI real bright so you believe me. I don’t know that you do. It’s like when I was crying and I say I’m fine and you say okay. It’s so much easier to say okay, than it is to ask what’s wrong. Because I don’t know what’s wrong, actually. I fell and I cried. Not because I fell, but because it reminded me I was sad and lonely, and a bit pathetic. You came out when I didn’t come back inside for a while to check up on me and you were genuinely upset. I didn’t want you to console me, to touch me. I wanted to cry alone. Cry ugly. Let the dog lick my tears and snot.

Someone told me I should go volunteer. Volunteering takes us out of ourselves (I’ve done it; it doesn’t). It’s like what Madonna said when she had Lourdes – how she had to stop worrying about her own shit. But like Madonna and the volunteering, you come home, you have alone time, and you don’t stop thinking.

Some friends ask if there’s anything they can do. But there isn’t. They want to spend time. But I don’t. I don’t want to talk. So I feel guilt when they’re around and I can’t answer, or it takes SO MUCH EFFORT to respond. Guilt is another one of the things you think about after the volunteering, after Lourdes.

I became an atheist recently because I realised it was all bullshit made up to control our ethics, so we’d stop killing each other. It hasn’t changed anything for me. I feel just as much in hell as I did before, thanks.

There was this time. Not now, naturally.

I wore my dad’s wedding suit, all lovingly hand-stitched, on two major occasions:

The first time was when i was 16, a school dressup, I went as a member of the mafia. Not mine, necessarily, because as far as I knew, nobody had been whacked by my family, although there have been a number of dubious, extreme accidents over the years. With my dad’s wedding suit, I wore the requisite hat and machine gun.

The other time I wore the suit was not for dress-ups, it was simply a matter of choice on my first day at university. I was 8 months short of my 18th birthday, and extreme weight loss gave me few options to wear. I didn’t want to say that I was straight-outta-highschool, not too hardcore, either. I could have gone Goth, but that wasn’t my thing, so I went Mod instead, before I knew exactly what that meant. Thanks to Google, I know know now that I looked the part (without the hat and machine gun, of course). But I just wanted to stand out a little, not be one of the nice girls, benign and forgettable. I wanted to be memorable, but only for the right reasons – ‘cept I didn’t know what  those reasons were back then..

The way I reminisce over those days, 31 years later, it didn’t feel planned so much, but it certainly marked my entrance to a new place I called home for a couple of years. I even changed my name, from Josephine to Jo. Not a huge shift, but it marked my break from family, from all the other Josephs and Josephines.

That was thirty-one years ago.


And still, I wake up every morning, and wonder how I should dress so I can go out into the world a little less forgettable and benign than some, a rebel. A Jo in her dad’s wedding suit, except it doesn’t fit me anymore. Most anorexics get fat eventually anyway, thanks to yoyo-dieting, the rest just die like Caren Carpenter (my hero at the time – I told mum how I was so sad I couldn’t be as skinny as her and she just gave me a fat lip).

Thirty-one years ago, I was having so much fun. I was drunk, stoned, studying, barely-studying, fucking, tripping, putting dishwashing liquid into the moat at Deakin Uni just to turn it into a stream of bubbles, running around with bikies who looked after me because I was the kid. We were so stupid, so high, writing poetry and songs, like “medication time”, when it was our turn for the bong. We made music on walls with wooden spoons, with lids. We wrote them on the walls of a mystical house in Pakington Street in Geelong. It was a magic time.

We also threw up on ourselves, became paranoid after eating mushrooms, forgot the dates in history exams and slept with each other’s boyfriends, by accident, but it was ok, as long as we looked after each other, understood each other’s parental strifes, and stayed ahead of the news, knew about politics and books. Everything mattered.

We were fucking fighters when we weren’t too stoned to get out of bed.

I remember in the 80s when there was one of those financial crises and all people cared about was the extra tax they had to pay, not the greater good that their extra tax was serving. They were fucking self-serving big-L Liberals. We were Socialists with torn jeans in 1987, because we couldn’t afford another pair of jeans. Scum. Hippies. Students. This was pre-grunge.

I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this. Those people, MY BEST FRIENDS, what the hell happened to them? Where are they? I barely remember their names, but they meant THE WORLD to me. I’d do anything for and with them. I miss them so much.

How does friendship that is SO MEANINGFUL just turn to sand on a 90 mile beach?

It’s lonely having no meaning, no addictions. You also lose the friends who said they didn’t like being around when you had the addictions. They forgot how boring you were without the booze.

What they don’t tell you about getting sober, about losing all the addictions (because they are losses), is that life doesn’t necessarily get better. Life just becomes something you remember and long for. It becomes so boring. It becomes something you endure. Having the privilege to stay home while I’m withdrawing from old meds and going on new meds isn’t lost on me. So privileged. SO PRIVILEGED. The problem with having manic-depression (the best kind if you can keep the manic state going as long as possible) and quitting smoking, booze and everything is that you’re just left with the depression (because, in all honesty, the manic bit doesn’t stick around long, it’s the depression that lasts the longest).

We used to have this joke – “I did (fill in the gap with your own dirty secret) and I turned out ok”. But we didn’t.

WE DIDN’T turn out ok. How many Gen-Xers take anti-depressants, Diazepam, go onto Tinder even though they’re in a “monogamous” relationship, over eat, under exercise, over exercise, watch Netflix for days on end, or drink to oblivion to forget all of those small-l liberal socialist conversations that turned into little more than white picket fences and mortgages and a tonne of dirty nappies?

Naomi Klein is one of us, but she had a decent start, with academic parents in the union movement. My dad was a commie, like, literally, but when he came here, to Australia, he tossed out his beliefs out of fear. He never crossed a picket line, of course, but he stopped going to meetings – that’s how you got deported in the 60s and 70s. So he just gave it up. He gave himself up – that’s how I see him. We talked though. A lot. About the movement. I was encouraged to read 1984, Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm and (without dad’s knowledge, Fear of Flying – you know, for a well-rounded education). We talked about what was important. Mum didn’t get it. She just cared about whether anyone heard us arguing.

One time, my friend Nat and I did acid and stayed home, just your average Saturday night. And as the sun rose onto a gloomy smog-filled West Footscray vista, we noted all the boxes, the bits, we buy a big bit to fill with our little bits – souvenirs, babies, bluetooth speakers, cats and dogs, plants that die, smart TVs that you replace as often as your plants die, photos of people whose names we no longer remember.

So anyway, I’m depressed. I have manic depression. I am bi-polar. I am not anxious – I hate that word. Anxiety is controllable, Depression is not. It’s hard wired. I’ve been taking medication now for around 15 years – effexor, lexapro, prozac, blah blah blah – I don’t even know what I’m taking now because I was sort forcibly taken to my shrink (sorta forcibly because I’d just taken 4 diazepam so I didn’t make much of a fuss anyway). Jeff now controls my meds, so I don’t know what they all are. I have a carer, like an old person in a home. Isn’t that just everything a married couple longs to become – the carer and the cared.

I’m possibly going to hospital soon – you know the ones: Melbourne Private, Whyndam (they let you visit with your dogs), Essendon Psych – to clear my system of everything so we can start again. My understand of meds is that it takes around 2-3 months to notice significant change. Is that how long I’ll be in hospital without my dogs and cats and laptop and phone and music? Part of me feels a sense of relief be because I need some headspace. But then there’s the rest of it. What do I do? I don’t like colouring. I don’t like people, I don’t like being told when to go to sleep. At least having a home carer (aka husband – geez he must be SO rapt), I’ll be used to it, and I can refuse his demands.

I feel sad, and freaked out. I mean, I read “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Girl Interrupted” and they don’t turn out well for the loud people. And I’m one of the loud people. Do they still give lobotomies?

Carrie Fisher was open about her fight with all forms of depression and told Oprah in 2011 about how she found ECT treatment to be the best thing she ever did.

“Some of my memories will never return. They are lost – along with the crippling feeling of defeat and hopelessness. Not a tremendous price to pay.”

But she killed herself, despite it all.

So did these talented people who despite their darkness managed to do wonderful things and leave legacies:
Robin Williams, 63
Hunter S. Thompson, 67
Ernest Hemingway, 61
Anthony Bourdain, 61
Kurt Kobain, 27
Chris Cornell, 52
Hunter S. Thompson, 68
Sylvia Plath, 30

I’m not a victim, my stories got me here, got me writing this. But I do feel alone. Hardly anyone has reached out to me. Depression is hard to talk to people about. It’s so negative and pretty boring. I even mentioned that I was disappointed that they hadn’t reached out. I don’t even know what I would do if they did reach out? Maybe I’d just want to sit in the same room, silently, smile at them now and then, and continue what we were doing – reading, drawing, knitting, playing with a Rubik’s cube, snuggling with the dog, checking Instagram, creating a zine. If they want to know how I am, they should read this.

But maybe hospital will be better – a bunch of strangers and no expectations. Nobody to disappoint or be disappointed by.

I feel bad, sad and guilt. There’s a business to run, and I’m dumping it all on Jeff and everyone else. There you go.

Sometimes I think it would be easier if I weremnt around at all. But I don’t want to die by choice. I did once. But that involved booze and pills. But I want to do something, something that doesn’t involve upsetting people. Something that leaves a mark, just like the first day of uni when I wore my dad’s wedding suit and looked like a Mod. If I don’t do something, then what is the point of this mortal fucking coil? You know? Because this just isn’t enough, despite what the shrinks and coaches tell me when they say I should write a gratitude journal. Fuck that. I need more but, right now, I don’t have more. I just don’t care.

That time I wanted a bee tattooed on my boob

When I was 17, I hung out with a bunch of people who rode motorbikes and had tattoo parlours, as we called them back before they were art studios. One guy’s girlfriend was in the middle of a major project, a peacock that covered her back and shoulder. It was epic.

I just wanted a bee on my boob.

The tattooist, who thought of me as his kid sister, said no. So I didn’t get a bee on my boob when I was 17. In fact, I didn’t get my first tattoo until my early 30s, and I remember thinking, during those years in between, that I was really glad I never got the boob bee.

Now, closer to 50, and with a soft, fleshy landscape dotted in blue, red, green, pink and yellow ink, the truth is, I wouldn’t care if I got the boob bee. Granted it would be blotchy and stretched, and as faded as a pair of jeans, and it really had no meaning, but it would have been a true mark of my earliest rebellion – so much more interesting that memories of anorexia and whatnot.

The thing about tattoos is that you should never regret them. For reals.

I remember watching Miami Ink and everyone had a freaking story they wanted commemorated by a tattoo, and it drove me a little nuts. So when my tattooists have asked me, over the years, what my tattoos are about, I always want to come up with something truly significant, but all I’ve got is:

“So there’s this illustration, and I think it’s pretty.”


“My friend wanted to.”

I mean, does everything have to mean something? Is there anything wrong with a tattoo that has no meaning? You know, tattoo nihilism.

What’s wrong with just something that makes you smile, or laugh, or just reminds us that we were dickheads once?

People told me I would regret my tattoos, that my saggy tattooed arms would look like shit.

Even Cindy Ray, Australia’s first tattooed lady, warns people about aging tattoos.

“Tattoos look great when you’re young, but they too get old.”

Cindy Ray – Australia’s first Tattooed Lady was a carnival sideshow.

Well, Cindy, let me tell you that the body ages, parts will sag, with or without tattoos, so don’t worry about it.

The thing about tattoos is that, ironically, they’re temporary. That is, the moment is temporary. However, the thing they remind you of is permanent – they remind you that you were drunk and dumb, totally into cartoons or skulls, loved the colour pink, loathed your mum, collected buttons, had a best friend who was bound to be in your life FOREVER, or were hooning around with your other, soon to be middle-aged, friend who wanted a matching piece of ink. Or maybe you just wanted to be badass.

One of my favourite tattoos isn’t that old but it’s faded as fuck. It’s across my belly and ribs and its condition serves as a reminder of the kilos I’ve lost, and gained, and lost, and gained. There’s a line of text from my favourite childhhood book that says: blahblablahblablahblahblah

Part of this tattoo looks so terrible! Should the tattooist have recommended a different placement? Maybe. A different font? Sure. Do I care? Not for a second. I remember the weeks leading up to the day I got it – I was so nervous. This was before girls in Melbourne were getting tatts on their wrists, sleeves or chests. I thought I was crossing over to a different world (I wasn’t), and I was about to change (I didn’t). I have no regrets at all.

Of course, there’s the unwritten rule that you should NEVER EVER get your partner’s name tattooed on your body. NEVER EVER. It will only lead to divorce and heartache – not regret, necessarily, but you don’t want to mess with that fate juju. Even after 24 years married to the same guy who I adore, I’m not game to try that because who doesn’t remember Johnny Depp’s Wynona Forever? That crazy cat.

Johnny Depp’s Winona Forever tattoo – before and after

I kind of like the idea of a regrettable tattoo. Not that I wish I had the name of an ex-lover tattooed on my lower back or anything. I mean…

But do I wish I got that boob bee back in 1987? A little. Although, it still lives with me, almost as if I did get it.