beautiful monsters: February 2006 Archives

February 28, 2006

The trouble with

sharing a computer with 40 other people is that there's always someone on it when you want to blog or else there's a meeting on in the library where the computer is so you think maybe later when everyone else has gone to bed. And then when it's later you check your email and reply to a couple and before you know it you're nodding off, and giggling because you think hey, I'm actually nodding, nod, nod, nod. And then you go to bed. Maybe tomorrow?

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:31 PM | TrackBack

February 19, 2006

stones in a necklace

I love the University bookshop, where I found Call Me Ishmael Tonight by Agha Shahid Ali. It is a book of ghazals, and as I am in love with the ghazal I had to buy it, though the poetís name didnít ring any bells (it can be so hard to find decent international poetry in this country!)

Water drops on the burner its sizzling red pearls.
Moonlight, on the apricots of Gilgit, shinesÖ

ÖWHAT THE THUNDER SAID Shantih Shantih Shantih
The peace that passeth understanding in Sanskrit shines.

(from Shines)

I read a neat description of ghazals once, ďeach couplet must be like a precious stone that can shine even when plucked from the necklace though it certainly has greater re in its settingĒ. Well, I looked it up again tonight, and it is attributed to none other than Agha Shahid Ali. So I have heard of him after all.

The dawn looked over its shoulder to ask the night
for the new fashions in which it could dress angels.

(from Angels)

At the temple and the mosque the rose petals
lay all night perfuming the stunned water.

(from Water)


Meanwhile Iím not writing any ghazals of my own. Or anything for that matter, except these few blog entries. Iím bored. My own thoughts bore me. Thatís really sad.

And I donít know if I want to stay here. After two weeks my list of cons is growing:

* The food (ew, mushie peas, limp broccoli, and lots of fried foods)

*Getting challenged about personal struggles in front of everyone sucks

*I have a very small room and a tiny uncomfortable bed. I have to shuffle over to roll over.

* My therapist says weird things about food and and childhood trauma.

* I canít do anything without asking anyone for permission

*I miss St Andrewís

* Sometimes the other patients seem kind of childish and bitchy in the way they talk about each other, in and out of group sessions.

* The insistence that physical symptoms have an emotional cause

* The entrenched believe that everything hard is automatically beneficial

* I am surrounded by people with serious emotional problems

* When weíre not in group meetings we seem to spend a lot of time doing things like playing games. Sometimes I feel like Iím paying $2000 a week to play scrabble.

* Iím going to miss the Arts Festival

* They donít have the full Chamber Music NZ programme down here

* Sometimes the nursing staff seem quite dismissive when I feel I need support

There are however some pros:

* Having meals provided at regular times instead of always cooking

* I donít have to feel guilty about needing support, because I am paying to be here

* There are always nurses around who are sometimes available to talk to

* There are some people here with similar problems who can understand what I am going through

* Knox choir

* My psychiatrist seems good

* Itís quiet, less stressful than working, and I donít have to worry about things like paying the power and electricity.

And so it goes on... the current plan is to wait until the 27th, when my mum will come down, and I will have completed my assessment period. Meaning that they will have assessed me, and I will have given it a fair shot and assessed them. And if they donít come up to scratch I can use some of the money I save to go to the arts festival. Sounds like a plan to me.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 09:39 PM | TrackBack

February 13, 2006


Life is pretty quiet here. I mean, when weíre not talking about our feelings, or talking about other peopleís feelings... thereís just a lot of reading, and TV, jigsaw puzzles, and scrabble. I am becoming the master jigsaw puzzler. I just canít seem to concentrate on much else. Iíve been drawing too, maybe Iíll scan a couple some time.

I donít know if I could cope if it did get more exciting. Because the feelings stuff can become so intense. Emotions, memories get stirred up all the time. And some people here have been through so much crap. Some people are hurting so much itís unbearable, even to watch.

But then there are others who are healing, and growing, and full of hope.

And itís nice to be around a lot of people who understand what itís like, how hard it can be. Itís nice not to have to explain everything, or put on a brave face.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 09:36 PM | TrackBack

February 12, 2006


You know you havenít updated your blogroll in a while when you find out that one of the bloggers you link to has been dead for more than a year. Or possibly has gone to Africa, there seems to be some confusion. How does one ever know these things? Itís weird, huh? These tenuous connections we build. People we have never met who for some reason we care about. Well, Aaron said some nice things, back in my Xanga days. Like ďDon't feel bad about having a bad week. You don't need to be apologetic to anyone for it, especially a bunch of crazy internet people that may or may not actually exist.Ē Obviously we werenít close, even by blogging standards, since I havenít read his blog for more than a year. Then again, there are people in Wellington I havenít seen for a year, and I still think of them as friendsÖ and I hope we will connect again. And I hope Aaron is in Africa.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:03 PM | TrackBack


Wooooooh! Iím allowed into town! Itís all very exciting.

Yesterday I went to the Ecumenical Festival of Flowers in Praise, or something like that. Anyway, to get to St Paulís Cathedral I had to make my way through the hundreds of Harley Davidsons that are in town for a national rally. They were al lining the octagon. I think someone said thereís 800? Anyway, it was quite funny to see a few guys in biker jackets wandering around looking at the floral arrangements, and the little old ladies standing at the door of the church watching the motorbikes buzzing around outside.

Today I went to Knox church, which was really lovely. Beautiful building, a Real Church, with stone buttresses and pointy spires, soaring timber arches and glowing stained glass windows. And a Real Choir. With robes and everything. And the minister in robes. And candles up the front. I didnít know there was such a thing as High Presbyterian.

I was very disappointed though, because I read on the website that Knox had just started having Fair Trade coffee after church... but what I didnít realise was that thereís such a think as Fair Trade instant coffee! The minister was very apologetic. Ah well, itís quite an elderly congregation. It can be hard to make such radical changes. Iím thinking of joining Christians for Real Coffee.

Thanks to those of you who have left comments, itís lovely to have your support.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 01:40 PM | TrackBack

February 10, 2006

Week two

My psycho-therapist is really nice, but very different from the therapist I had in Wellington. She keeps on coming out with alarming statements like ďfood often symbolises misplaced sexual energy.Ē Huh? When people say things like that I switch off a bit. It just sounds likeÖ psycho-babble. When I had a stomach ache, she thought it was probably emotional rather than physical. I didnít care, it still hurt. She also seems determined to find some childhood trauma that is the root of all my issues. In the absence of abuse (I had a wonderful supportive family and a happy childhood) she has latched onto my grandmotherís death when I was three. That must be my trauma. She could have a point though. I do feel absences, deaths and departures very acutely. Iím terrified of people leaving. I just donít see how mulling over this is going to help me get on with my life. Am I too skeptical?

Did I mention the very cute kitten who lives in our ward, and who I am quite allergic to? His name is Tigger, and last night I left my door ajar by mistake. When I came back my Possum (puppet made out of real possum fur) had been dragged across the room and was being savaged by the kitten.

And then there is the food. Some of it is not too bad. The main dishes are usually decent. But the vegetables... almost every night we have potatoes, soft carrots and mushy peas. Sometimes broccoli, boiled beyond recognition. Oh how I miss stir-fries! Crunchy snow-peas! Spring greens!

I supposed nobody ever died of over-cooked veggies.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:00 AM | TrackBack

February 07, 2006

Early impressions

On first impressions, this place is nice and scary at the same time. The staff all seem intelligent, respectful and helpful. The other patients seem friendly and nice. The grounds are indeed lovely, with lots of old trees, and a sort of temple to the four winds down by the creek.

Because Iím new here Iím on ďAdmission ObsĒ which means that a nurse checks on me every hour, including at night, and Iím not allowed to leave the premises. Itís driving me a bit nutty.

I can walk around the grounds though, if I find someone to come with me, and get permission from a nurse. The first night I was here I went with a couple of the girls who had made fishing nets out of forked sticks. I caught a koura (fresh-water-crayfish) in one of the pools along the creek. He was only little so we named him Shrimp, then we let him go.

This is very different from any other psychiatric hospital Iíve been to. For a start, until you get to know everyone itís very hard to tell which people are staff and which are patients. Two (or is it three?) times a week the whole community, patients and staff, meet in the hall. We sit in a big circle and talk about any issues that need to be discussed; patients have a lot of input into the running of the community. But people also talk about personal matters, which freaks me out. In front of the whole group, theyíll say to someone ďIíve seen you doing this lately, is that healthy?Ē It takes a lot of getting used to (I think itíll take me months). People talk like this all the time, in smaller groups as well. Sometimes theyíll ask how someone is, and that person says ďfineĒ, and someone else says ďare you sure?Ē Iím sure itís meant in a caring way, but to me it still seems to accusing and confrontational.

My psychiatrist is young and quite spunky. Iíve only met my therapist once so far, so weíll see. Iíve met with the dietician once too. But most of the e contact is with the nursing staff. The nurse I like most fell of her horse and wonít be back at work for a few weeks Ė damn.

Iím finding the amount of unstructured time difficult. And the library here is uninspiring. Iím sitting next to the non-fiction section, where I can see Prince Phillip: A Biography, Sporting Records of New Zealand and The Family Knitting Book. The fiction section isnít much better, with various Readerís Digest Condensed Books, and a stack of romances.

Yesterday I had a very quiet day, choosing to remain blissfully unaware of any protests that may have been taking place around the country. I did a jigsaw puzzle, went to visit the ponies that live here, and spent a quiet moment remembering Saskiaís birthday five years ago.

Honestly, Iím feeling a bit miserable about everything right now, and contemplating all the other ways I could be spending all this money. But lots of people have told me itís worth sticking with it, so Iím going to try.


Posted by Fionnaigh at 12:24 PM | TrackBack

February 04, 2006

Beautiful Monsters in Dunedin

About a year ago my psychiatrist suggested that it might be helpful for me to spend some time at Ashburn Hall. Back then I didn't feel like I'd exhausted all the options in Wellington, but I've given it a good shot over the past few months. and I still seem to be going around in the same cycles I have been stuck in for years. Frankly, I'm sick of it. And I'm worried about the affect it is having on people around me, the amount I am leaning on friends and family for support. I'm also having a lot of problems managing the balance between side-effects and symptoms, and with specialists scattered all over town, who I only see monthly, it was slow and difficult to sort anything out. At Ashburn all the doctors, therapists etc are in the same place, and talking to each other.

AndÖ I suppose this may turn out to be the biggieÖ Iíve been having a lot of problems around food and eating. Actually, ever since I was a little kid Iíve had big issues of guilt and secrecy around food. Lately Iíve had a problem with binging and overeating. Although I donít actually believe that all women should be slim, my weight is having a huge negative effect on my life, and Iím constantly aware of it, ever time I sit in a chair that I can barely squeeze into, or worry about squashing someone on the bus, or get stuck trying on clothes in a shop, and have to get the shop assistant to help pull me out of a shirt. Oh dear, that last one was so humiliating.

The people here have a reputation for being able to help with eating disorders Ė though the other EDP patients on my ward are struggling with anorexia or bulemia, there have in the past been people with overeating disorders, and the staff seem to think Iíll benefit from the programme.

I really hope so. Itís costing a lot of money to be here, and if it doesnít work I donít really have any better ideas.

More later, too tired to think what else to say.


Posted by Fionnaigh at 02:47 PM | TrackBack