The sky is falling! The sky is falling! – Anna Spargo-Ryan

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

When I started blogging again, I thought I would be quiet. You know, only blog when you feel like it. Only blog when you have something to say. I didn’t expect to be this quiet, or have so little to say.

I kept telling the people I live with that I would have a nervous breakdown. If someone else doesn’t take the kids to school for one bloody day, I will have a nervous breakdown! If I don’t get one night away from you people, I will have a nervous breakdown! What I really meant was, just give me some time to myself because I’ll cry if you don’t, but evidently I was able to talk myself into it. I woke up one morning several months ago and nothing made sense. I looked outside and couldn’t remember where I lived. A more rational person might have thought, I wonder if I’ve had a stroke, but I recognise a psychotic break when I see one so instead I thought, I wonder if someone spiked my dinner.

It wasn’t too bad at first. I started to struggle with long distances, because I couldn’t quite remember how to get home again. Then I developed a phobia of the hours between midday and 4pm. After that I sat in my house and went, “What the fuck.” a lot, and after a few weeks of that I decided I should probably visit my doctor (before midday).

I rang my counsellor of many years and bleated at her, probably things like I’m afraid to go to the supermarket and My brain has been replaced by an owl’s nest. She had moved her rooms from around the corner to the CBD, but because she is an amazing life saver she offered to come to my actual house and talk me out of my growing list of woes. I’ve been seeing her twice a week, and now I can do things like get my kids to school without breaking down and crying, so that’s a good indication of progress. We’re doing some hypnosis, some CBT and some reflexology and my homework every night is to think about the things that frighten me and imagine a ball of warm comfort in my belly. Sometimes I help it along by eating chocolate and imagining that the chocolate is the ball of warm comfort. Sometimes it is harder and I have to eat 1-2 blocks of chocolate to really feel it.

After long talks–bless her for humouring me so convincingly–I made some decisions about my life. Not easy decisions, the other kind.

I quit my job. I tortured myself day after day, sitting in my car on the side of the road on the phone to my mum, just going, “I CAN’T DO IT MUM HELP!” until I conceded defeat. I was not going to get better if I was beating myself up every morning because I was only making it 80% of the way to the studio. So I no longer work for Neighbours, which means I guess we can’t be friends anymore because it’s so awesome.

After I quit my job, I sat down with a piece of paper and wrote WHAT DO I EVEN LOVE ANYMORE? at the top. Under that I wrote My children. I couldn’t think of anything else for a few minutes. Then I wrote Feeling accomplished and Sleeping. When I thought about what made me feel accomplished, I wrote Living authentically, Working for myself and Being patient. I probably only wrote “living authentically” because Tony Robbins was channelling himself through me or whatever.

So I have thrown my full self into my freelance work–writing and social mediaing and building websites–which is rewarding, stimulating and low stress. I mean, the work is stressful, sometimes. But that’s the kind of stress that is logical and energising to me and I love it. Working hard is easy. Working hard on the other side of town is not as easy.

In the meantime, I am taking it slow and being gentle with myself. My therapist calls my agoraphobia ‘atypical’, because I actually do like going outside and doing things, and there are a lot of times when I do enjoy it. I need to build myself up again (they call this ego strengthening, but not in the boob job way) and then I’ll be off. Maybe just to the supermarket, but that’s a good start.


I thought very hard about whether I wanted to share this in a public forum. Obviously I don’t want to give people a reason not to employ me, because I have to feed my family. But I am both a person with a mental illness and a damn hard worker. If the fact that I sometimes cry when I have to leave the house is a good enough reason not to work with me, then I probably don’t want to work with you either. So there.

  • Caroline

    March 18, 2013 at 3:18 pm Reply

    Gutsy to share this x You’ve inspired me to write a “What do I even love anymore list” x

  • edenland

    March 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm Reply

    I love you. And would love to sit next to you watching the sky fall. Eating crackers and chocolate.


  • Workingwomenaus

    March 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm Reply

    I love the fact that you’ve found the answers (even if they’re only the answers ‘for now’). I also love people like your counsellor who go above and beyond to REALLY help someone

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      March 19, 2013 at 9:30 am Reply

      Thanks Kim :) She is a truly exceptional woman who really does seem to give a shit about her clients’ wellbeing. I am eternally grateful to her.

  • Kate

    March 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm Reply

    Brave. Really brave. And thank god for chocolate.

  • Kelly Exeter

    March 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm Reply

    xx (<< translates to 'love you lots but have nothing else useful to say')

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      March 19, 2013 at 9:31 am Reply

      That is a more than useful thing to say. I love you too! x

  • Nathalie Brown

    March 18, 2013 at 8:55 pm Reply

    And that my gorgeous is why I eat chocolate. … Xxx

  • mary

    March 19, 2013 at 7:18 am Reply

    Anna…it’s Mary from the FB reading group. Bless you for sharing. My husband has bipolar and speaks up because it might be only one person it helps but that person matters. Thank you for speaking up.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      March 19, 2013 at 9:32 am Reply

      Thanks for visiting Mary. I am very much in the camp of “it’s important to share”, to open a dialogue and to destigmatise. I hope it helps someone, somewhere. Good on your husband for doing the same.

  • Karen

    March 19, 2013 at 7:51 am Reply

    I love your bleating and your over-sharing. We all need a warm ball in our stomachs, and having people like you on the internet and in the world makes my warm ball just that bit warmer. x

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      March 19, 2013 at 9:33 am Reply

      Thanks Karen :) Solidarity in craziness definitely helps x

  • Michaela C

    March 19, 2013 at 5:27 pm Reply

    Awesome. And best of luck. You will rock. Welcome to freelancing!!! Xxx

  • Kelly

    March 19, 2013 at 9:29 pm Reply

    Your decision to share shows your commitment and honesty to what you stand for as a person – I would jump at the chance to work with someone with as much integrity as you. Exceptional talent goes without saying :)

  • Zanni, Heart Mama

    March 20, 2013 at 6:59 am Reply

    Hi Anna. It’s my first time here, even though I am sure I have seen you on Twitter many times. You are a brave and beautiful person for sharing this experiences, and for looking deeply at what you need to do to make your life manageable. A admire your strength. Zanni x

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      March 23, 2013 at 4:08 pm Reply

      Thanks so much Zanni. So far it’s proving to be a hard slog, but with small glimpses of progress, which is all I can really hope for! x

  • bigwords

    March 25, 2013 at 5:21 pm Reply

    I love you Anna. I’m very far away, but maybe one day we could Skype, in hours that work for you, and eat chocolate xx

  • Sue

    March 25, 2013 at 6:16 pm Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing this. Sometimes I feel when I bleat my guts out all over the place about my pyroluria and the other myriad health pooness that goes on in my life and I wonder WTF I do it when I already feel like some days I’m stretched on a vertical rack in the middle of a windstorm just making eye contact with someone in a shop. But I dunno – there’s something in the writing of it that makes me feel safer when I write, not less safe somehow. It redeems stuff.

    The awesomeness of writing, eh? :)

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      March 26, 2013 at 9:41 am Reply

      Thank you Sue :) I agree, writing about it makes me feel safer too (not least because of the wonderful people who offer their support and camaraderie). x

  • Sandra

    March 25, 2013 at 6:24 pm Reply

    Thank you for putting into words the things I cannot express. Call me next time you need to leave the house. We can cry together until you get where you need to be xoxo You are a shining light xo

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      March 26, 2013 at 9:36 am Reply

      Thanks Sandra :) I am always sad when others can empathise, but at least we can panic in solidarity!

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