Could it be that I’m peeling? – 11th August 2003

I feel like I’m getting more and more insane! Everything means so much today – why so serious? Why can’t I relax? Feeling disconnected from my body – wonder if it’s something serious or just my stupid self hurting me?

Feel like getting everything completed – wrap it up. Where do I belong now? What am I running from? Where am I running to? What’s the big plan? Why has it missed me?

Am comforted by the thought that probably millions of others feel isolated in the same way. I want to live a simple life – how can I do it knowing all the comforts I have around me? I feel guilty for the world’s burden!

I hear voices that don’t make a sound – 14th July 2003

Freaking out in my head again – feel like my brain cells are disappearing – information is leaking away. I seem to spend my time wishing for better days, wasting the ones here and now. I find myself in conversations not knowing what is being talked about – my mind snapped to elsewhere. Everything feels fatigued or full of potential fatigue, stopping me from starting anything. Where is this coming from? Where is it going to end up?

Spoke to Mum on the phone – I didn’t have much to say. Felt like throwing up. Felt like crying. She keeps her life going along.

I feel like my major aim in life should be to try to ensure that Hayden doesn’t go through these feelings – help him overcome this despair – but I can’t even help myself!

Following around to see a life that’s never in – 30th June 2003

Chinese exam tomorrow – pretty much too exhausted to study much tonight though – it feels like information is flowing into my head and right back out again!

Called Echo in Beijing – I love to hear her voice when she speaks Chinese. It’s like music. Wish she could teach me more and be here – that would be an ideal way to learn! Anyway, hope to catch up with her in the next 12 months or so.

Wake up tomorrow and study hard just before the exam!

There’s no feeling bad without feeling fine – 19th June 2003

Well, today was different – feeling relaxed, talkative, confident… Even struck me while it was happening and then I tried to work out what it was that I was feeling and figure out how I could draw on that in times when I need it.

I see people on the train miserable and grumpy and I wanted to shout at them that everything is ok… But I know how they feel – I’ve been there often myself.

Anyway, I couldn’t figure out what the hell the difference was and how I can draw on it when required… oh well… Maybe it’s just the overall general well being… Everything’s going along ok – no diff to three weeks ago but I just seem more positive. Hopefully got over this sick feeling for the last two months – if it is an allergy though I guess it could come back pretty much anytime.

So we jumped on the table and shouted ‘Anarchy!’ – 10th June 2003

I guess I’ve isolated myself a lot – being an only child it’s easy to keep myself amused. But also by my interests – they alienate me from others in so many ways – also my requirements for a partner, they, I would hope, share similar interests – so where do I find a Chinese girl into punk rock? Or a punk girl into Chinese culture? And beer?

This is another reason I miss TLJ so much – she did fit so well. I gotta figure out how to deal with this critical element – why does everything have to be perfect?

I’m just trying to hold on, I said, but when you were gone what could I hold on to? – 8th June 2003

Strange weekend – kinda had plans but things went awry! Felt severely down yesterday and freaked out (in my head) at the shops.

Feel better today, though TLJ has been on my mind and that really gets me low. Decided to call her and spoke for a few minutes. Not sure what it achieved. But I realised when I lost her I lost my best friend – I want that back and know I never will. I want so much and try so little sometimes. Yes, I know – I am my own worst critic. I guess I’m still stuck trying to figure out what to do with my life – cos I sure ain’t doing much right now.

25th April 2022 – Living in Chatswood was very convenient as I was a one minute walk from the shops and station. Though, despite there being a large enough Asian population, a mix of all, shops generally all closed by 6pm, except some restaurants. It started to change in my last few years there but it’s still nothing like the vibrant nightlife actually in Asia.

But sometimes the problem with choice is that it can overwhelm and occasionally, disappoint. In the sentence above describing freaking out, I immediately know my feeling. Being so convenient and having enough disposable income meant that I often ate out, though not usually at restaurants.

There were times I would head out without any idea what I wanted to eat and would get frustrated at not being able to choose. I wonder if at those times I wasn’t actually that hungry and was just expecting myself to eat out of habit. The frustrating search and possibly low blood sugar would freak me out and I would go home despondent and depressed.

The realisation of losing a best friend (yet again, though through choice this time) and the confusion and doubt that was causing me was a wake-up call that I was still ignoring, for whatever reason. The deep passion of the relationship with TLJ was replaced with emptiness.

The Dismemberment Plan’s ‘The First Anniversary Of Your Last Phone Call’ still sends shivers down my spine. The minor chord dirge and the chiming-crying chorus get me every time.

I continued trying to fill it by checking the local newspaper lonely hearts and a dating agency, of which my then less than satisfactory girlfriend, Lorraine, knew nothing. Lorraine wasn’t the right one but we gave it a go, somewhat based on our shared personal demons. Whilst staying with her I was always looking for other options.

This down period of time was what I deserved and due and in hindsight I can see that I knew what was going on with me but still didn’t have the skills to get a foot out of the mire. But it was coming.

Some people are up all the time. Others, like myself, have to go down and up again until we learn enough self-respect and self-esteem to gain some stability.

There are many paths dripping dark so dense – 24th May 2003

What is wrong with my body? Does my sick mind hurt my body too? I get sick a lot – I don’t know why. But this feels different – could just be some weird virus – hopefully nothing more. But what if….?

I feel dizzy or weird when I move my eyes or head and feel sensitive to noise sometimes. The thing is I don’t feel sick – not ill or anything – but it seems my body wants to shut down – I don’t feel like doing anything in particular – just resting or the things I normally do at home. I don’t have the energy to get out really. It’s been like this for about two weeks.

23 Apr 2022 – In 2009 or 2010 I got glandular fever which knocked me around for about 3 months and ever since then whenever I’ve had the symptoms described above, I always put it down to a reoccurrence or triggering of it again. As I was writing this in 2003, it seems like it must be something else that has been causing these symptoms which still bother me even now.

It may be connected with my sertraline medication, which I started taking in 1999 and still take now. I could try and get off it but it’s such a small dose one doctor suggested it may just be a placebo for me. Every time I’ve tried weaning myself from it though, after a while a situation would get me down so much that I would end up taking it again. It’s always worked so I’m a little reticent to stop taking it. I have very little stress in my life now though, so it could be worth thinking about again.

Sometime around 2000 or 2001, I went to an allergy specialist to see if it might an allergy issue but they didn’t find anything in particular, just a pretty general allergy to dust and which I doubted anyway. A highlight of going to this specialist though was the beautiful and friendly Burmese receptionist that worked there. At the end of the day, I would’ve preferred a resolution to my problem but I took what I could get and tried to make the best of the situation.

I often wonder about people that I’ve had brief connections with and what they ended up doing with their lives. These people were usually serving staff in favourite food shops. Mami at the coffee shop next to where I worked in Help Street, Chatswood. Emma, at my favourite Chinese takeaway (Shanghai Gourmet) in the Mandarin Centre, who taught me how to order my favourite dish in Chinese. That may even be Emma in the attached picture. Eun Bi at the Sushi shop. Mikiyo at another coffee shop. Sue from another coffee shop who I was close enough to to hang out with occasionally. After Sue went back to South Korea I became friends with Jenny too. I would meet these friendly people at least once or twice a week for many years in some cases and it certainly paid off to be nice to them as I would often end up with freebies and extras.

And then there was also Jenny, Peter, his wife Nancy and Nisha who all worked at the sandwich shop I would frequent whenever I could. I watched Jenny grow from a quiet 18 year old, unsure of her future to a business owner and now mother. She even asked me for advice about the guys who chatted her up in the shop, eventually asking for more advice about one in particular who she ended up happily marrying. After moving to Thailand she was the only one of my friends who called me to see how I was doing. I remain very grateful for her thoughtfulness and we still stay in touch.

You see, you feel, you know…you’re waiting – 17th April 2003

Hayden came over and walked into the living room which had been changed around since he was last here. He then checked out my bedroom which had also changed. This though, upset him because his own room was still the same.

I explained that I didn’t want to move his room around without him being there and now we could move it together, however he wanted it. That cheered him up a little.

The initial pessimism though was a real highlight – I want to help him look at situations as a positive instead of negative.

15th April 2022 – Hayden was six years old by now and his personality already developed to some degree. This attitude to change has become even more obvious as he grew up. Ironically, or perhaps not helped by the fact that he has had to undergo quite a few major changes in his life. Somehow it feels as if Bronwyn and I were never able to provide the skills for him to deal with change very well.

He struggles with making his own changes and feels at home in his comfort zone. For me, that feels like it’s holding him back. But I guess I was like that somewhat too, even until my late 20s and making that uncomfortable decision to leave all I knew behind and take a chance in Australia.

I’ve been thinking about this a bit more recently as I’ve been putting lessons together for next semester. I want to open the student’s minds to the possibilities out there for them even with all the societal restrictions in place that may be too overwhelming for them.

I wonder if I feel a greater responsibility to my students than I ever had to Hayden? Is that just my own self-doubt?