Bruised not broken


brene brown bravery

We all start diets on a Monday right? The prospect of impending self-imposed restraint necessitates some lead in time, some memories created to serve as reminders that life was fun, once.

This is the way I used to think about trying to control drinking. A couple of great nights would mean I was fully ready on Monday morning to become an organised, disciplined – normal – person.

Taking on major personality shifts such as this tends to require rather more work than writing a ‘to do’ list and meal plan in order to kid yourself that your life is not in fact, an alcohol induced accident waiting to happen. Not having systems and goals in place is why it fails. Again, and again, and again. Addicts who have woken up one day and decided to quit and have managed it in one go are few and far between. I applaud them while being utterly bamboozled (I wrote that accidentally I promise!) at how they do it.

I’m pretty sure that anyone who has successfully addressed a harmful habit, be it alcohol, drugs, chocolate, shopping, has at least thought about it for a significant period of time and usually will have a fair few failed attempts under their belt before things really change for the better.

In my case, this time last year I joined the ‘Dry July’ challenge. It was a really easy way of explaining to people why all of a sudden I wasn’t drinking – though those close to me of course knew the battles I had been fighting for a while. There is great approval and celebration when you are seen to undertake something that most people would apparently find difficult. The most frequent question I was asked was how I was feeling, so much better? As though we all expect, being drinkers, that we must feel constantly sub-optimal. Otherwise why the expectation of wellness? And this was mainly from people who probably drank very little and had no idea of the extreme from which I had come.

Physically I had become slow, tired, functioning like a distracted sloth, eye always looking to the bottle on the horizon, the crippling chores of the day in between. Mentally I was much worse. Mood fluctuation in the extreme, despondent that I would ever, could ever, change. My mental capacity for much other than planning the next social engagement (read excuse) or obsessing on how I was going to change my life – without doing anything about it, was non existent. My work had pretty much gone out of the window, my writing had dried up. (How Hemingway did it I just can’t fathom – I can barely type my name if I’ve had a drink.)

The month was surprisingly easy – I think – it’s actually hard to remember now just how awful I felt (despite knowing it) and how desperate I was to manage to see the month through. That there was an end point wasn’t what made the difference, though for many that is the thing that gets them through. I had no intention of going back to where I had been and was seeing this month as a jumping off point for a much longer period of sobriety. I owned up to this in this post on August 6th 2016. How far everything has come.

I got to five and a half months before I drank again. During that time there were gatherings and nights out. I didn’t feel able to go to some, and allowed myself to bail out, to feel the guilt and live with it, making my apologies in the knowledge it was the only option. I went back home for three weeks and loved it more than any other trip we’ve done. The clarity and determination with which I was seeing life was addictive!

This time last year I thought I was making a lifelong change. I believed that for five and a half months, had a relapse, then got up and kept going via an online course called Hip sobriety. This has been one of the most important elements to managing my cravings, to understanding the driving factors and acknowledging that any change for the better is a success. The cohort from the course is consistently engaged and endlessly supportive. There is a reciprocity that makes it feel ok to have a (nother) whinge, a huge rant or a tearful confession.

It is a lifetime’s work. But it is worthwhile, whether on top of the mountain or deep in the mire. Connection is what keeps us all going; it is what gives life purpose and meaning. Connection to others is infinitely more possible – and more pleasurable for all concerned – if the connection to our true selves can first be established.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who have read my (often very long) posts, got in touch with me and shown your support. Here’s to the next year, being brave and showing up.

bruised not broken

Scraps off the plate


Every time I read ‘My Day on a Plate’ in Sunday Life it makes me wonder what Joanna McMillan would make of my daily diet. Try as I might, I cannot, amid the chaotic existence of life with three smallish boys, maintain any sort of regular, reliable food intake. It’s not that I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to cooking or nutrition. And the boys have always been adventurous eaters on the whole (now they often go back for a second, third even fourth mouthful). We eat fish, I hide vegetables, limit (or at least try) sweeties and treats. I even bake.

So my problem is not the variety of food in our house. It is time. I spend so much time making sure that their little bodies are nourished – and a fair bit of time lecturing them about rickets, scurvy, starving children elsewhere around the world – that by the time they are skeltering from the table, I am exhausted and can only face a cup of restorative peppermint tea amid the crusty bits of porridge, mash, kale pesto and the like (not strictly true – kale has apparently been put on the boys’ ‘dangerous foods that are likely to kill you’ list).

So in essence, my day on a plate looks something like this:

7.30am – Green juice – an entire blender-full or a measly cup depending on how generous I’ve been with the proportions of fruit/veg that morning – see above re kale. Its inclusion ensures a healthy serving for me.


8.00am – Two chunks of pineapple as I prepared morning tea – otherwise the numbers of chunks per child would have been uneven – they check, believe me.

8.05am – The middle of a roll with a generous knifeful of butter – making more room for the filling. I made myself chuck the other two pieces in the bin.

8.15am – Two spoonfuls of cold porridge with chopped apple and vanilla yoghurt – I would have had more but my tastebuds couldn’t handle the amount of maple syrup with which it had been liberally doused.


8.20 – A couple of toast crusts with peanut butter.



10.00 – Two skimmed mochas from the Source (best coffee in Mosman in my opinion).

12.45 – A few teaspoons of pie filling – to test seasoning.


12.50 – One piece of chewing gum (in order to make sure my family didn’t end up with plain pastry for supper).

1.15 – Scrambled egg (made with leftover eggwash).

1.30 – Some crumbs* of chocolate while making biscuits.


2.30 – A bowl of Carmen’s maple, almond and apple toasted muesli with blueberries and full cream milk (I am diligent when it comes to bone health).

4.00 – Cup of peppermint tea and one or two choc chip biscuits (too late in the day to count).


5.25 – Secret binge of Haribo tangfastics while waiting for the boys in the car – but not the cola bottles, I hate cola bottles.

7.00pm – A few floppy grey beans, pastry crumbs and a handful of dried out raw carrots – all that is left of supper when I get back from yoga.


9.00 – A bowl of muesli – I could be a student really, only then it would be cornflakes.

9.30 – Cup of peppermint tea and a raid on the choccie tin as we call it. The rule here is that it comes out if we have a family supper – I believe I always have a case to make here.

So Joanna McMillan, over to you. At a guess I’d say my bones are safe but the rest of me might be buggered. But note, no alcohol! No wine required, must be all those hairibos…

*ok yes, a few chunks

Concrete goals



“You have to celebrate the successes. You’ve come such a long way.” So said a wonderful friend this morning when I admitted to her I’d had a slip. A bigger than normal slip, a four day slip. This one I might call a relapse as it ended with me drinking stealthily in the kitchen. Not hiding it exactly, but, yes, kind of.

Monday night, no reason or excuse other than the wine was in the fridge. Days of the week cease to matter once you’re in the grip of a drinking phase. That I can cope, still managing domestic tasks during and also the day after only makes it worse. Makes it seem less problematic, less invasive.

But the descent is steep, should the emergency plan fail there would be no stopping until the inevitable crash. But the rope seems to be holding. I have my toolkit handy and I am ready once again to start at the beginning. This is the beginning, the shameful sharing. Putting it out there I know is not to everyone’s taste but for me it diminishes the shame somehow. The loneliness of tackling mental health and addiction can be excruciating. By sharing I take back the power, I make the decisions.

Another great friend shared with me that it takes an addict an average of seven attempts – real, committed attempts – before they succeed in overcoming the demon. This is six for me I think. I am going to try and achieve a below average score!

My top three tools for the next week will be

  1. Get back to yoga – every damn day even if some days I have to crawl to my mat, click a button and allow myself to be baby-stepped through a meditation.
  2. Get more sleep – bed by 10pm latest, none of the internet surfing and browsing, allowing my monkey mind to flit from page to page of the labyrinth.
  3. Plan and prepare food well ahead of suppertime. My absolute worst time of day is, I suspect, the same time as everyone else’s. That end of day fatigue, the deep sigh once all of the running about is done. The loneliness of the kitchen sometimes as the domestic drudge has to be attended to again. Some cooking after lunchtime with a good podcast leaving the evening kitchen time minimal. Then I will take ten minutes to myself before rejoining my family feeling replenished. (Remember this is a goal – as I wrote that I laughed and laughed but without a plan I will certainly fail…)

So here’s to concrete goals, baby steps and sixth attempts.

calvin and hobbes sleep

Breaking open.


Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I have never read The Secret. I think I tried once but it felt rather far fetched to me, a bit schoolgirl tarot card-like. But it turns out I might be living its message at the moment.

Have you ever felt as though you are on the cusp of something? Not in a prosaic way, like moving house or changing job. But in a felt way, believing it without material reason then watching with wonder as, jigsaw-like, the pieces fall into place? Sometimes a piece you’ve been staring at for ages and have perhaps tried to attach to various others suddenly slots in and it’s ridiculously obvious that that’s where it goes. You wonder how on earth you didn’t see it before.

The last couple of weeks I’ve felt it, a slow coming together of messages all speaking the same language, all telling me I can do this.  More than that, it feels as though the messages are encouraging me to break open in order to move forwards. Beginning with the Monday morning text message from a hugely supportive friend inviting me to coffee just at the right time, (what I felt like doing was hiding at home), to the postal arrival the same day, of Annie Grace’s book This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol. I had forgotten ordering it but had got it into my head that I couldn’t do this without reading it (it is as brilliant as everybody said).

Last Sunday morning in yoga we were invited to set an intention for the week ahead. Where often I find myself casting about for words of survival or strength, this time there was a palpable bubble of happiness, a feeling of knowing I was finally on the right path. The word that popped up was ‘enjoy’. Enjoy living more simply, more honestly, determinedly not sweating the small stuff. Revel in feelings, even uncomfortable ones, just let them be then let them go.

It is easy to learn the language of the zeitgeist. There are many people out there who spruik mindfulness and the importance in engaging in self-reflection and discovery. I have realised it takes commitment – long long term commitment I’m willing to bet – to find the right voices, the right method, programme, book.  Moving from one guru to another might be necessary at the start. Finding strategies and practices that resonate while also ticking logistical boxes takes time and can’t be faked. But after a while there is a good mix in place and then responsibility dictates that we stick with it, putting our faith into something that works enough for real hope to remain.

I don’t believe in predestination but rather the infiniteness of possibilities, the kind which are always there but not shouting to be seen. Waiting quietly until other elements are in place, until you open the door, then appearing as if in reply to a direct request. Shoring up a choice perhaps, providing acknowledgement only you can see or reassurance in its purest sense. Preventing a backwards step.

So my ‘set’ of signs, messages, call them what you will, included discovering one of my most trusted yoga teachers is connecting with another person on whom I am relying at the moment (step up Holly Glenn Whitaker). Then in the space of a couple of days I saw two friends of mine who had, independently, told me that my words had inspired or supported them. I began a course called The Next Step with Yoga Sivana, just at the time that the Hip Sobriety School course (see my last post for more on this) was drawing to a close and I was having a panic about another period of change. I realised though I didn’t have to see it as an end and beginning, more as adding another element into the mix, another push forwards. My yoga attendance has increased, I tuned in to the lunar eclipse, taking note of my inner landscape, my inner voice and yesterday on the day of the Autumnal Equinox I thought about life as a constant effort to maintain our fragile balance. Just as a tightrope walker will always have a net in place despite being certain she won’t fall, so we need established strategies supporting us.

Within us all there are tools, and maybe kind of magnetic forces that switch on when we wake up to the possibilities life has to offer and that we have to offer life. Almost thirty years ago, ’Carpe Diem’ was volleyed about endlessly (gratitude and love Robin Williams). It was the mantra of the age. Now we have mindfulness, being ‘in the moment’, still reminding ourselves to ‘seize the day!’ Accepting that our ability to understand and be understood is a timeless and endless process is the first step on the path to creating peace in our lives.

enjoy it

New Horizons



Today’s mantra in Hip Sobriety School is ‘In stepping out of my comfort zone I step into my potential.’ As a stepping off point Holly shared the William Faulkner quote above which totally resonates with me as the ocean is important in our lives now. I often walk along the shore and somehow I can’t but feel the pulse of possibility. There comes a sense freedom, a knowledge that potential is real, is still available. For a long time I felt that I had squandered it.

Potential is what people see when they look at children. Uni students, suddenly passionate about saving the world have the potential to remain ablaze with fiery opinions and determination but also that which will lead them into bad company, bad choices, the fire fizzling out. The determination of the newly qualified, lawyer, doctor, teacher, saving freedoms, lives, souls.

A middle aged housewife and sometime writer not so much. Much much less potential there. Fires long since cold, youthful vigour dampened by mundanity, what eye sparkle there was now dull, brows creased with worry.

Comfort zone can become all encompassing, which is fine if your comfort zone is work, or sewing, or painting or gardening. But when things turn inward it is easy to become downcast and forget there was ever any fire at all.


But then comes a nudge, a twinkle like the reflection of light in a mirror, momentarily blinding. A reminder from the horizon that there are possibilities, adventures to be had yet. There may need to be several nudges but even once the trick of light is long gone, the shadow remains, the wonder is always there.

Ten years ago today we arrived in Australia for a ‘trial’. It has taken all of this time, and I’m not finished yet, to persuade myself to lose sight of the shore. I have clung on as though to an invisible rope, which will always be at hand, but which I have learnt to accept not to depend on.

As we dull our senses and dreams with drinking, we create our own toxic little comfort zone, always there, always a friend when we need to avoid discomfort, loneliness, frustration, stress. But those things lie in wait, biding their time for when you realise that to outrun them is impossible.

Feeling everything takes some getting used to. Breathing through the stress, counting to ten, walking away. Skills we try and instil in our children and yet as adults, avoid out of fear.

My swim has begun, I know I am wiling to navigate the obstacles. It may not be fun at times, in I’m pretty sure it will get rough as hell, but once the shore behind is no longer in sight there is nowhere to go but forwards.


Round two



I feel as though I have not only fallen off the wagon, I’ve fallen off and watched it roll away into the distance over the horizon into the setting sun. Some days I wonder if I am even capable of catching it up, hauling myself back on and getting into the driving seat. But I remind myself I’ve done it before, and I know I can do it again. So I say bring it on!


Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that the festive season is the very hardest time to be sober. That’s why I started with 100% sobriety in July – I was certain that, by the time Christmas rolled around I would be so bloody fine without booze, so totally fixed, that I wouldn’t bat an eyelid as everyone around me imbibed at leisure (and managed to limit themselves – I missed that memo). Anyone reading who is familiar with DBT skills (dialectical behavioural therapy) will most likely have alarm bells going off, sounding something like CLEAN MIND! CLEAN MIND! CLEAN MIND! By December I was complacent, had forgotten to do my homework, pushed aside the radical acceptance that for me, limitation is not an option and so jumped straight back into addict mind, ready to party!

Fast forward a few weeks, I am bleary-eyed, stiff from lack of yoga, sick of the cycle and ready to re-start. As well as catching that goddam wagon and taking a firm hold of the reins, I feel as though I am gearing up for a fight, mobilising my troops, drawing the battle lines. I am refusing to catastrophize these few weeks as I have to believe there is still so much left to aim for. Things only become a cliche because they are true, and the truism I am reminding myself of just now is that this is all part of the journey. There are no dead-ends and as one of my children’s favourite book says “We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ll have to go through it.” (We’re going on a Bear Hunt)


One of my biggest strengths is my sociability. Some see the ease with which others share their truths and stories as negative traits, a sign somehow of weakness, that to display our weaknesses somehow compounds our frailty as a person. I disagree. To err is human, as we all well know, and to pretend otherwise is duping others and ourselves. This time, more than ever, I am going to own my journey, my stories, my truths. I stand by who I am, I like who I am and these beliefs will get me through the knowledge that I don’t always like what I do. What I do is not me, does not define me and the further along this path I get, the deeper I delve into the exploration the more certain I become of this.

My troops are many and varied, all are vital in some way and will serve me over the course of the battle in their own way. They include

  • Hip Sobriety school with Holly Whittaker
  • Home podcast – I am going to work my way through the episodes while working my way through my ironing pile, me time + a sense of accomplishment from ticking off a chore. Laura and Holly are the most inspiring presenters and seem to give their hearts and souls to their listeners. Knowing that women who I admire so much have come from a similar place as me and made it to the other side means so much, gives such hope.
  • Febfast – love the cause, love the sense of accountability it brings.
  • 40 days of mantras from Hipsobriety. I got about three quarters of the way through this last year before getting distracted, I am going to go through them again in my morning meditation time. So well put together.
  • Jenny, my lovely psychologist whose words at our last meeting keeping playing over and over in my head. She said, “I take you as I find you.” These perhaps are the very most important words to say to someone embarking on any journey of self-awareness, and particularly recovery. Knowing that the shame you may feel yourself is not universally felt towards you, knowing you are free to be yourself, whoever that is at any particular time, is everything.
  • Yoga Sivana – not only are the classes at this beautiful studio fantastically well taught, the teachers are real, grounded, fallible people who teach from the heart and encourage their students to listen to theirs.
  • Meditation – twice daily and booked in as Mum’s absolute ‘do not disturb’ time.
  • Planning – planning meals, activities, keeping busy. Planning also for downtime, reading time, me time.
  • Writing – keeping up with more on here, pitching more ideas, working on the novel – sitting down at the desk. Like getting onto the mat, once I am here, tapping away, I feel as though I am where I’m meant to be.
  • 21 day yoga challenge with Wanderlust
  • Sharing – such an important element and one I often struggle with. I am going to lean on my friends, accept help when it’s offered and be open to advice knowing it is given in love. I am going to keep in better touch with those who live far away and remind them and myself how important they are to me. DBT recommends ‘publicly announcing abstinence’ and for me it helps if I feel accountable somehow.
  • Exercise – early morning walking always makes me feel like I am ready to face the day.
  • Playing games with the boys. It is so important to replace the seedy drinking time with fun and silliness. I am constantly wishing they wouldn’t grow up so quickly. I need to enjoy the time with them more. 

We played backyard cricket at sunset the other day – best fun. Slight problem with balls on roofs but it added to the interest!

Can anyone add to my battle plan? I think it’s pretty comprehensive but perhaps there is something that has worked for you that you think I could try? Feel free to get in touch with suggestions.

My heart is wide open, I’m ready to learn.

“It’s times like these we learn to live again.” (Dave Grohl)

PAWS. Rest. Repeat.



Tackling any sort of long term problem or issue can often feel like a lonely business, especially if it involves making a decision that sets you apart from the pack. There are a huge number of online forums and places of support that can help, one of them, Hello Sunday Morning, has been a constant in my ups and downs for years, as I clambered onto the wagon, lay down, exhausted, got my breath back then promptly (and sometimes after a while longer) fell off again.

I posted recently about the fact my depression has been rearing its head and my disappointment that my abstinence hadn’t ‘fixed’ or at least lightened this a lot; I was convinced that the two were intertwined almost to the point of being one and the same. Not the case. I described in my post how I’d been feeling, my frustration at feeling frustrated and anxious. My inability to see things logically, my snappiness with the boys and crippling guilt afterwards.

A long-term connection on HSM asked if I had heard of PAWS, or Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. When I looked into it I was incredulous. It described exactly how I’d been feeling and explained why. It makes so much sense to me. Reading about other people’s experiences, just knowing it is NORMAL makes the most massive difference. An extract:

‘It is important to remember that symptoms of PAWS come and go. The vast majority of people do not experience excessive fatigue or anxiety for months or years on end, without a break. Instead, these symptoms fluctuate, lasting days or weeks, and are separated by periods that are symptom-free.’

PAWS is a normal part of the recovery process from unhealthy dependence and addiction.’

So I am not doomed to a life feeling miserable, angry and incapable of change, I am just riding the wave, an unexpected part but one I’m coming to know better now. To know your enemy is to be able to work out strategies to defeat her. I am re-visiting strategies I’ve worked on in therapy and am reminding myself to live with ahimsa, or compassion, towards others and myself.

Just after I had discovered PAWS I did an incredible workshop with Cora from Slow Yoga. I had signed up for this because I love Cora as a teacher and it seemed like a nice place to be on a Sunday afternoon so it was spooky how well it fitted in with my decision to accept this part of the journey and look after myself.

If you ever want to see just how quickly two hours can open your heart and help you find peace, do this! The combination of delicious yin poses to iron out the body’s kinks and deep yoga Nidra leaves you feeling clean, rested, refreshed and at peace – yes, all at the same time! I also felt a determination to try and carry this into the everyday, this slowing down, taking everything one step at a time.

Another thing that popped into my inbox just at the right moment it seemed was an email from Holly Whittaker at Hip Sobriety. She is one of my gurus in sobriety, her words reach me, describe me, inspire me. She is running an initiative called The Mantra Project and as soon as I read about it I knew I needed and desperately wanted to do it.

Meditation is something that helps me immensely but something I sometimes struggle to fit into my day. To have a reason to get up, to read what the mantra is for today, then to light candles, sit with the words for a while, give myself peace and time for myself before the inevitable craziness of the day begins feels like absolutely the best kind of treat. One I love and one that is enriching me, helping me heal and grow. I feel stronger, more capable of tackling the demons, keeping them at bay and becoming the me I want to be.


Love ❤️



Many of us feel as though we are living in some sort of awful dream-state, when in fact we are learning the hard way that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

I have indulged in my fair share of Trump memes, hilarious while I believed that his election would be an aberration. And now it’s happened. There is such strength of feeling on show, people have shouted, and continue to shout, their fears, masquerading as beliefs. For it is fear that drove the result. Fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of the unfamiliar. Haven’t we all known that feeling at some point in our lives? My six year old felt it yesterday doing something for the first time; my eight year old every time there is a storm; my ten year old has to work hard not to shut down at the prospect of change. We all, to a greater or lesser extent, know that feeling, that fear.

But to play on those fears, to use them for political gain is, to me, despicable. It is politics. Admitting your fears out loud is the ultimate act of vulnerability. As adults, it is too much for many, for most. The election gave a voice, and an action, to those deeply-rooted fears.

It is easy for us with the skills, the comfort, the knowledge to dismiss the vulnerability. Far easier to be incensed, shocked and angry. But to react with anger and hatred will play into the hands of those keen to maintain the divide.

Far better to try and react with love, with understanding, with an effort to share these qualities, hope the light wins over the darkness.

I spent yesterday morning at Yoga Sivana surrounded by beautiful souls whose hearts collectively expanded as we listened to the Venerable Lama Tendar telling us his story; it is one of exile, uncertainty, imprisonment. And yet.

And yet he teaches compassion. Compassion to all living beings, even, perhaps especially, towards those we don’t immediately connect with or understand. We looked to him for healing, for guidance. Tolerance, understanding, compassion, love.

It is up to us to be brave, to have the courage to go forward with our hearts and minds open, to love freely and without judgement. 

Namaste ❤️





Yesterday I read the report of an inquest into the death of Karanne Hollow, a British solicitor who chose to end her life six weeks after being arrested for drink driving. It stated that, following an argument with her boyfriend she ‘downed’ two bottles of wine and later crashed her car into a hedge at 3am without injury to herself or anyone else.

The coroner’s statement goes on to say she was embarrassed by her consequent arrest and questioning by police a week later. One newspaper report suggested she had previously been treated for depression.

The thing that leaps out at me is that this was a young woman who was clearly struggling with life and who must have felt she had no other choice but to escape the pain permanently. Perhaps she had exhausted all avenues. She must have felt as though there was no one who could help.The last thing she did though was to send a message to her sister; she had people who cared, who would almost certainly have done anything they could to help.

As is tragically borne out by statistics, far too many people find it impossible to reach out; to admit to their struggle, to ask for help. There has to be some onus on friends and family to stay vigilant when someone is not coping; desperation can turn into decision all too quickly.

There should be no more shame in talking about mental health than physical. And yet digestive health, sports injuries, allergies, you name it, all seem to be acceptable conversation material whereas depression and anxiety are hidden away, couched in shameful language and feelings of inadequacy. In this day and age of oversharing (and I put my hand up as a guilty party), that people feel there is still a stigma is unacceptable.

The days of being expected to pull ourselves together should be long past. There are so many wonderful organisations out there, so many souls willing to help; it should never come to it that people feel they have no alternative but to end their life.

Shame around drinking is real, we all know ‘the guilts’ but, gut-wrenching as they are, they do pass, until there is a habitual problem. Then come admissions, bigger decisions that have to be made, ones that will have a lasting impact. Those decisions need bolstering, shoring up with love and with kindness from within and without.

If it all sounds somehow obvious, or easy, I apologise. We all know it is anything but. The tricks the mind can play are infinite in scope, whether it is well or not. It is only by exploring with honesty, by sharing, by talking that the maze can be navigated.

Lifelife Australia – Crisis Support and Suicide Prevention 13 11 14

Samaritans UK – 116 123

Beyond Blue Australia – 1300 22 4636

AA Australia –



Memory Lane


The thing about memory lane is that if ever you have a chance to go back there in person, you’ll find that planning permission has been granted without your knowledge or say so. Buildings, places, monuments (in your head at least), that meant so much will have been radically altered at the very least, if indeed they are there at all.

They might be smaller, dingier, tarted-up beyond recognition, quieter or they may have been bought by a chain and what atmosphere they possessed pummelled out of them so they now fit inside a box. Whatever, there is little chance you will go back and find yourself able to slot back in.


Try slotting in here…

We all have our own version of memory lane. For most of us it’s probably more like a half-finished spaghetti junction; roads and pathways criss-crossing, sudden dead ends where the way seemed clear. You can think of it like an ever changing map or blueprint, written on sheets of thin paper, each laid down over the one before, so that ideas, even those dismissed, are there, just not at the surface. Visible, memorable just not accessible.

The muddle this can create while being lived, sheet upon sheet laid down as revisions are made, is immersive, the cliched invisible wood thanks to the endless trees blocking the view. The harder you search for a unobstructed path, the ‘right’ way, an escape, the more overgrown every direction can appear.

Time and distance can bring perspective, I discovered recently that it is possible to return to places that hold difficult memories without becoming entangled again. Just because you are there doesn’t mean you are who you used to be. That in itself is incredibly liberating – and sometimes tragic, such as when you find that a much-loved grocer has been replaced by a very up itself yoga studio complete with list of rules on the door. Much as I love yoga, I pity the New Town residents who won’t know the hot, comforting nourishment of a Margiotta’s homemade pizza.

One of the greatest gifts must be having friends who stay put as you tumble through life, providing an anchor through time and over vast distances. I used the phrase ‘good times’ to one of my dearest friends about our flat sharing days in Edinburgh. She wasn’t sure at first that for me they were. She probably has a point, I was certainly a little nuts, but from where I am now I am focusing on the gratitude I have for our friendship and letting the other bits go.

There are lots of friends – not to mention my family – who have borne witness to some crazy shit I’ve got up to or into. Some were made in the midst of my realisation that things had to change so saw me lurching from one extreme to another. I wouldn’t have blamed people for walking away.

Relationships that endure the hills and troughs of life are one sure measure of fulfilment. I cannot again imagine becoming so unhappy as to be hopeless now that I have cemented friendships and relationships in this new stage of life. I didn’t have any doubt, it’s just lovely to have confirmation. To my amazing group of friends tumbling alongside, thank you.