The other New Zealand trip days

As for New Zealand trip Day Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten and Eleven?

Day Six, November 1st: We woke to beautiful sunny ocean views from Crown Hotel in Napier again, breakfast at Milk and Honey like the first morning then check out and transfer to the airport for the next adventure. We’re off to Christchurch where we got in at 1pm. We had to be picked up in 2 cars: one for my suitcase, one for his bike! Lucky we’re staying with lovely friends whose accommodating parents let us borrow their cars. A lazy afternoon once we’d arrived sitting around in the lounge room chatting to our friends, their 2 cute daughters, their sister and parents until nap time. Then we went out to some friend’s of our friends house for dinner and had a brilliant time! They have 2 kids pretty much the same age as our friends so the four of them had a brilliant time, even more so cos their dad has rigged up a heavyweight hook in the lounge room to hang a plank swing or rings so of course that was a massive boon! And the parents are our age and so lovely to hang out with, what a wonderful evening, so glad we could do it.


Off on our next adventure!

Day Seven, November 2nd: A nice day hanging out with my girlfriend and her kids and parents today. We had a nice walk down to the shops for a few its and bits with Miss 3 on her balance bike and Miss 18 months in the pram and I got me a New Zealand bird guide! Yay! Now I can find out what birds I’ve been shooting. A lovely morning for a walk, it’s nice to wander around somewhere new. Meanwhile hubby and my girlfriend’s hubby had dashed off as early as they could wake up for a mountain bike ride in the Port hills that went for most of the day, and boy were they happy with themselves when they came home. Then we went to a friend of my girlfriend’s for lunch with her 2 kids and had such a fun lunch, a kid’s lunch she called it: mini franks and sauce, spinach feta triangles, tasty drinks; fun! A nice drive there and back checking out the countryside, a lovely nap, another nice family dinner sitting around the lounge room (the kitchen table is tiny!), our Bible study meeting and bed.


Enjoying the backyard where we’re staying…turns out cute Silver Eyes are in New Zealand as well

Day Eight, November 3rd: A girl’s day out with my girlfriend who was having a kid free day thanks to her wonderful mum! So we had a walk around Travis wetlands cos I’m always on the look out for more birds! We got hussled by a swan and hissed at by a Canadian goose; fair to say that the breeding season is still well in play. Then we had a drive along the beach and a look around the estuary in town for more birds, a relaxed chatty lunch at a restaurant on the beach at Sumner and a walk through the cave rock getting sand in our shoes; fabulous. Then some shopping at Ezibuy and Postie. What I loved most about Ezibuy is they have my size in nearly everything! I should go there more. Then home for a nap. Meanwhile hubby and my girlfriend’s hubby were off somewhere having a ball mountain biking, and the kids hardly missed us at all so a good day for everyone! Well grandma may have been a bit exhausted come to think of it, 2 kids all day is pretty full on. Lucky aunty was also there to run interference.


Oh wow, sun sand beach rocks birds, oh my!

Day Nine, November 4th: We started the day with a 2 hour scenic trip in the car to Hanmer  with hubby, my girlfriend and her hubby and sister as I snapped away at the scenery with my camera. And lucky I did snap the scenery, since we got home a 7.2 earthquake has devastated the area and the road! Today is THE day that we’ve been most looking forward to, but actually everything has been great. And what a day! Lunch, a bit of boutique shopping (which I struggled to be interested in apart from the lollies and the art gallery, feeling a bit flat today), snapping a few more birds and an awesome pedal cart for 6 people and most importantly, lazing in the hot springs and screaming down the waterslides like kids; the best fun! That was awesome! I definitely felt better after the water bowl and water slide. 3 hours soaking, a nice bite of Indian on the way home and what a feeling of well being after a wonderful day with friends.


The epic waterslide and water bowl at Hanmer Hot Springs

Day Ten, November 5th: A slow morning for me then a little shopping trip with my girlfriend’s sister and hubby to Kathmandu for a new (gorgeous purple!) rain coat for me and a nice hoodie for hubby, then a wander through the RESTART mall in the centre of Christchurch looking at the container shops and the progress that has been made since we were here 4 years ago. It was all interesting, but I’m just struggling today, most of my energy has been used up and I’m just dragging myself through the motions. I wish I wasn’t, I want to be fully into it because this is the last day of holidays, but I just can’t try any harder. Meanwhile hubby and pal managed to pull off another bike ride and hubby is in mountain biking heaven! A couple of loads of washing insisted on by the lovely lady of the house this morning means washed clean clothes ready to go, packing up and an early night for an ungodly early start in the morning!


Fascination about bikes all round as hubby cleans his up for entry back into Australia

Day Eleven, November 6th: A travelling day and a half, but we eventually got home to Canberra in the afternoon. Up at 4 in the morning, first breakfast at sometime after 5am, second breakfast in a different city at 7.30pm, something weird with time going backwards, and still it took til after 3pm to hit home! Epic! With the humidity in Brisbane, then the humidity in Sydney…but at last some warm weather in Australia! Welcome home!


Another airport, another lounge, this one not so shabby!! Time for second breakfast

Canberra Day Twenty Three

Monday 3rd October, 2016

Public Holiday! Labour day this week, I think. Don’t mind the cause, we’re on holiday in Narooma! We had a proper sleep in today, and slow breakfast before packing up. Unfortunately our plans for the day of bike rides had to be forfeited because it was blowing an absolute gale! It started yesterday afternoon. That delicious breeze turned into a nice stiff breeze then into an annoying wind then into a wind that we had to hide from to be able to enjoy our picnic! By this morning it felt like the house was coming down, and all the surrounding trees! Mind you we were staying at Top of the Town so…it wasn’t so bad once we got down to the town, and the boardwalk that is built against a hill was perfectly protected so we went over there for a walk which was delightful. But as soon as we stepped out from behind the hill we got a proper blast! The waves were choppy and the beach looked like a big washing machine. The whole area is so beautiful, and we were lapping it up, but the wind does get a bit tiring so back to the car and head for home.


Napping is getting a bit much lately, but I have to remember that I only got an hour yesterday in what was a very big energy use day of socialising for me, so the next day is always a slow one generally. I got started well and was keen for the walk which is a great sign. I was doing well with the window down in the car on the way to Bateman’s Bay but the wind got too much, and as soon as I closed the window and the sun was shining in, I started nodding off. We stopped at Bateman’s Bay for lunch, thinking we were saving ourselves from queuing to cross the only bridge from south to north, but it was just prolonging the issue. What a situation! One lane each way on the only route up and the down the coast!!

I slept again to Bungendore an hour out of Canberra, but we got out for a gelato and that perks you up, having to walk around and eat. So I managed to stay alert until we got home then and unpacked, but once hubby got all the washing on, I just couldn’t stay up any longer. Caution on napping in daylight savings: when you wake up and it’s still light, it may not be early so check the time before going back to sleep! I didn’t, and the next time I woke up and it was STILL light is was actually 6.30pm!! 3 hours! And now its late, 10.50pm and I’m going from strength to strength!! Typical. Well off the bed, see you later.

Canberra Day Twenty Two

Sunday 2nd October, 2016

What a day!

We started with a sleep in, and daylight savings. Tricky balance! As soon as the sun came through the curtains I was wide awake, rearing to go! There were birds to see and beaches and maybe whales. I was disorganised really and ended up driving around Narooma stopping here and there and everywhere. Meanwhile hubby was having a swim…probably I would have been better off with that, but it’s all experience. Then in typical fashion after I’d been up for an hour I started to flag! Hubby dragged me out onto our little verandah and that was nice! 22 degrees today, but not a hot sun, just perfectly pleasant temperature not too cold and not too hot. Sun, breeze, the rumble of 50 motorbikes leaving our motel for their daily drive!! I pushed through and did wake up a bit ready to face the day. There’s always some anxiety in me heading out to meet new people, to socialize, to be involved and participate. I guess there always will be. But it was at a low level today; thankfully. It just sedates me, stifles me. And I end up not going cos I feel sick to my stomach, like my heart will explode, like I’ll just collapse with the weight of it all. Which I did NOT want to have happen today! My husband is very good. Her reminds me that this is the same that always happens, that we were expecting this, that its not worse than last time, that its just how it is and I’ll get through it; I’ll be fine!

We came over to Narooma to visit a friend, and she was staying with a young family of 6; well 5 were there when we visited. We had such a great day together! Starting with our usual worship then steak and salad lunch with these 3 lively young kids and their awesome parents and our friend. Miss 4, the youngest girl, hasn’t quite figured out relationships and kept referring to my hubby as my daddy! That was a bit off-putting; I never quite got the hang of what she was asking me. Like at the picnic tea beside Wagonga Inlet: your daddy needs his thongs, where are they? Well I didn’t think her dad was wearing thongs, and besides that it was her daddy not mi…hang on, she means hubby!! Here are his thongs! Over lunch she was asking us if we had kids, to which I said no. Then she wanted to know if I had any grandsons!! I didn’t quite know how to answer that one! And so on. She has the confidence of a much older person and I just loved chatting with her! She doesn’t have all those inhibitions that I had as a kid and well into my teens; next thing you know she chatting for 20 minutes to some random girl and her dad at the swings in the park during our picnic!


The view from the kitchen door at the family’s house where we had lunch – wow! It might not be the beach, but its pretty spectacular!!

Miss 10 was lots of fun, a real tom boy and had a couple of hard fought games of soccer with hubby, who reckons she has a real talent. She’s certainly passionate! When she got new soccer clothes and a ball for her birthday she slept in the clothes with the ball in her bed! How adorable! Her brother’s always telling her if she doesn’t do such and such he’s going to beat the pants off her or something similar (meant as a joke!) but actually I think he’d be hard pressed to win one over her! He’s fun too, I’m less sure how to bracket him cos he’ll happily play sport or sit and talk with the adults, and he seems quite techy. But hey, you don’t have to have it all figured when you’re young.

The parents were so lovely, just took us into the family and we felt so at home! Isn’t that awesome? We’re away from home, out of our state visiting a friend and make a whole family’s worth of new friends!! It was a really special day! So we had lunch with them, had an afternoon nap then went to the gorgeous old fashioned town of Central Tilba, just 20 minutes inland. I’ve been there loads of times as a kid and teenager so it was a real buzz to be back! It always looks the same, but I notice some of the shops have changed owners. We had a meeting in the town hall which is right in the main street, and wall to wall with other shops which was a bit of a new experience for a religious service. It was hot in there! Sweating hot! Then someone opened a window and there is nothing so delicious as a thin little breeze wisping around your neck and face after being hot like that! The day just kept getting better with the service, and with meeting up with old friends that I’ve always caught up with at Bega on our annual holiday to the Sapphire Coast. And a total surprise meeting with a lovely friend who was visiting family of hers that I know in Bega!! We’ve been trying to catch up in Wagga for ages, and of all things we came to Tilba and she came to Tilba and we met in the middle, sort of!! That was a real thrill!!

And to top off a brilliant day, we had a BBQ picnic with our friend and our new family of friends down on the edge of the inlet and it was so beautiful!! Have I conveyed my joy and enjoyment of this day? It truly was a beautiful day physically, but also emotionally!

Oh, and before our picnic we went up to the Bar Lookout and saw whales spouting!! Again!! How cool is it to be on the east coast at the moment??

Canberra Day Twenty

Friday 30th September, 2016

It rained today. Again. A lot. It’s positively mushy underfoot! It can stop now, by the way. There’s plenty of water for everyone. More than plenty. I know we aren’t the worst off by any means but still. And the chill wind! Is it snowing somewhere?

I woke up bright and early at some outrageous hour because the thick clouds were creating a great wall of glare! Too stupid with sleep to shut the blinds, I slept intermittently til hubby got up and we both complained about it; just hadn’t done anything about it! So I got up for a shower (!) and breakfast, but couldn’t hack it. Back to bed, a good sleep this time, then up for some study to finish my CPD year which ends today, some lunch, and then the highlight of the day, if not the week; afternoon tea with a good friend from my Traralgon days. One of those brilliant people who you can catch up with after who knows how much time, and all manners of experiences and just pick right up and go with it! Awesome!

We had afternoon tea at Via Dolce right in central Canberra, and wow, what a place for decadent cakes and pastries! Definitely recommended. So a lovely cake on some gorgeous china, a wonderful chat about all manner of things, and just a feeling of well being to be catching up and enjoying life. Brilliant!! Then a wander around the Canberra Centre, kind of like Doncaster or Melbourne Central shopping centres in Melbourne, then trying to find the travelator that went to my car park; that took a while!! Some groceries for tea, some scripts dispensed, then home to our lovely hosts who are back from their cruise full of stories and happiness. A lovely meal together over green curry, and tomorrow we’re going to the beach! And it’s going to be 22 degrees and sunny! But that tale is for tomorrow. Chat later!


How to bird watch

Okay, for starters that is a pretty big statement!

I am an amateur at bird watching, having only started last year. I am no expert at it that’s for sure!

But I am passionate about it and enjoy it and want everyone else to have fun with it too.

I didn’t take any classes or get any instruction in bird watching so all that I can share is my personal journey with bird watching.

My approach is:

1) Listen for bird calls. A lot of birds sing constantly or use calls to check in with each other. If you can hear the song you can follow it to find the bird.

2) Walk around with your eyes open wherever you are. Look in the tops of trees especially dead trees for odd shapes that may be birds. Look for flying birds. Look into shrubs and bushes for movement. Look into trees as you pass by. Continuously scan your environment. Look into reeds and grasses on the edge of waterways. Watch the path in front of you. My best discoveries have been at random moments when I least expected them!

3) Go to a likely location. Choose parks and gardens and reserves. Go to wetlands, swamps, rivers, lakes, the beach. Find out where other bird watchers go and follow them.

4) Walk around slowly and steadily. Movements frighten birds away, even small movements if they are sudden. Walking slowly and making movements carefully gives you the best chance of seeing birds.

5) Be quiet. Noises scare birds away so treading quietly and making as little noise as possible gives you an advantage.

Well these are just my ideas.

I’m not an expert just an enthusiast. I’d love to see you out bird watching and finding the excitement and enjoyment in it that I do.

Have fun!

Birds birds birds birds birds

Are you surprised? More birds. What a shock!

This holiday has been one of the best I’ve ever had for bird watching. Considering that I only took up bird watching late last year this isn’t a massive statement.

But I’ve found so many great birds here, those that you come across every day, those that are specific to the area and some I’ve ever seen before.

On Friday 4th July I had a slow morning in bed and didn’t get outside til lunch time. It was super windy so I didn’t really want to go out, but turns out once I got out there it was beautifully sunny and quite a nice day, if you could avoid the wind.

All I did once I got out of the house was take a slow stroll around town but there were still some beautiful parrots around that I had the chance to stop, sit down and watch while taking photos. As always, just being able to find the birds by recognising their song or glimpsing their colours is exhilarating. Getting the chance to get up close and take pictures without them flying away is super exciting. Having some oblivious people or an aggressive Magpie chase my birds away is annoying!! But I still got some great pics!

I love this shot of the four Galahs making a perfect square!!

I love this shot of the four Galahs making a perfect square!!

Pretty Galah ruffled by the wind

Pretty Galah ruffled by the wind

Stunning pair of Eastern Rosellas, looks like an adult and baby

Stunning pair of Eastern Rosellas, looks like an adult and baby

Adult Eastern Rosella feeding in the grass

Adult Eastern Rosella feeding in the grass

Cute juvenile Eastern Rosella feeding with its parent in the grass

Cute juvenile Eastern Rosella feeding with its parent in the grass

Queenscliff pier - beautiful in the sun but the wind is brisk!

Queenscliff pier – beautiful in the sun but the wind is brisk!

Silver gull in the sun

Silver gull in the sun

Juvenile Crimson Rosella blending into an olive tree

Juvenile Crimson Rosella blending into an olive tree

Juvenile Crimson Rosella blending into an olive tree

Juvenile Crimson Rosella blending into an olive tree

Juvenile Crimson Rosella eating berries with its claws

Juvenile Crimson Rosella eating berries with its claws

On Saturday I went to visit a friend and found a beautiful parkland near her house. As luck would have it, as I parked and got out of the car I heard the screech of a cockatoo and as I looked up there were a flock of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos!! I have never seen these before in my life and had the best time watching them break open and eat pine cones high up in the trees as the wind almost blew them off! As I got out of the car it started raining! Taking photos while holding an umbrella under my arm and scrambling up a very soft incline was not easy! My umbrella got blown away and I got wet! My photos were a bit blurry as well. So once the shower passed I crossed the road to get a better shot, and would you believe there was a set of stairs that took me all the way up to within a couple of metres of the tree?! Bad luck and good luck so close together; interesting!

Flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos eating pine cones on top of a tree

Flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos eating pine cones on top of a tree. You can see how strong the wind is!

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo perched precariously at the top of a tree

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo perched precariously at the top of a tree

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo crunching on pine cones

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo crunching on pine cones

The fortuitous staircase to nowhere that let me get up close and personal with Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos!

The fortuitous staircase to nowhere that let me get up close and personal with Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos!

After spending half an hour with the black cockatoos, I finally made it to where I was headed in the first place: Fyansford Common. Such a beautiful park alongside the river and teeming with birds!!

Here’s another first for me, I’ve never seen this bird before. I think it’s a Grey Strike-thrush, as far as I can tell from my bird guide, but I’d love an expert opinion 🙂

Grey Strike-thrush singing its beautiful song on the rails

Grey Strike-thrush singing its beautiful song on the rails

Another Grey Strike-Thrush? Probably too far to tell, tree

Another Grey Strike-Thrush? Probably too far to tell

Cute fluffy little pair of New Holland Honeyeaters, sadly out of focus, dead bushes

Cute fluffy little pair of New Holland Honeyeaters, sadly out of focus but still awesome! I’ve never seen so many of these!

A Willy Wagtail mid-dance with its tail feathers fanned out and side wings pointing down about to flit away

A Willy Wagtail mid-dance with its tail feathers fanned out and side wings pointing down about to flit away

I thought I was catching a snap of a swallow resting, but on reflection it looks more like a Willy Wagtail

I thought I was catching a snap of a swallow resting, but on reflection it looks more like a Willy Wagtail from the front

I finally got a face-on photo of the Red-Browed Finch!! Earlier in the year I got a snap of the back of this pretty little bird in the Yea Wetlands, and by chance I stumbled upon this little firetail while looking at wrens and other birds in Fyanford Common. Score!!

Red-browed Finch flitting around with the many wrens and other tiny birds

Red-browed Finch flitting around with the many wrens and other tiny birds

Female Superb Fairy-Wren with vivid blue tail, gum tree

Female Superb Fairy-Wren with vivid blue tail

Baby Australasian Grebes ducking and diving under water when they notice me looking at them!, river, reeds

Baby Australasian Grebes ducking and diving under water when they notice me looking at them!

Then in the early evening we went for a delightful walk along part of the Bellarine Rail Trail near Swan Bay and saw some lovely birds.

Male and female Chestnut Teal on a pond

Male Chestnut Teal duck on a windy pond

A beautiful time of night and a beautiful White-faced Heron on the railway signal

A beautiful time of night and a beautiful White-faced Heron on the railway signal

A bonus sighting of a heritage diesel engine and train carriages near Lakers Siding, sunset

A bonus sighting of a heritage diesel engine and train carriages near Lakers Siding

And for the grand finale, an amazing Eastern Great Egret! I saw one from the train on Thursday and wished that I could get a shot. So I was very excited to see this Egret fly over as we were walking back to the car. They are really shy so we took shots from far away and then tried to creep up. Unfortunately we were losing the light by the time we saw the Egret so most of the shots come to nothing but I like this shot anyway. Then the train blew its whistle and it took off, ever so gracefully!

I’m so excited about these holidays. I’ve seen Egrets, Herons, Spoonbills and Ibis that I haven’t seen in years since I left our small farm out of town to live in the city and study. Seeing them all again gets me reminiscing and remembering the good parts of my childhood when we would watch the birds in the channel or out in the wet paddocks

Beautiful and graceful Eastern Great Egret stalking fish in the backwater, reeds, lake

Beautiful and graceful Eastern Great Egret stalking fish in the backwater

And so we come to the last day of our holiday! It really has been perfect and I’ve enjoyed myself so much! And the weather has behaved beautifully; on our last day it rained and rained! So we were happy to leave and head for home. Isn’t that the dream?

We had plans for walks but it was a bit wet early on so we drove on and ate breakfast out. Luckily the rain cleared out over breakfast so we headed out to the Edwards Point State Faunal Reserve on the point just out of St Leonards. It really was beautiful, if chilly, and the rain held off for a couple of hours while we wondered around.

I love herons for their grace and elegance. I love shots of birds flying and I accidentally got them both together! Not well focused but okay.

Focusing on the standing White-faced Heron and another flew right into my photo!, lake, reeds

Focusing on the standing White-faced Heron and another flew right into my photo!

This one I am proud of, not well focused but I got the heron landing!, lake, reeds

This one I am proud of, not well focused but I got the heron landing!

Black Swans in the water, lake reeds

Black Swans in the water

Edwards Point State Faunal Reserve on an overcast July day

Edwards Point State Faunal Reserve on an overcast July day

Edwards Point State Faunal Reserve on an overcast July day

Edwards Point State Faunal Reserve on an overcast July day

Another Eastern Great Heron - two in two days!

Another Eastern Great Heron – two in two days!

Edwards Point State Faunal Reserve boardwalk across the water

Edwards Point State Faunal Reserve boardwalk across the water

And the lovely beach, stunning as always! sand, clouds, waves

And the lovely beach, stunning as always!

Majestic Australian Pelican swimming on the calm seas

Majestic Australian Pelican swimming on the calm seas with Mornington Peninsula in the background

And here we are, down to the last bird for the holiday! The freeways from Geelong to Melbourne and Ballarat to Melbourne are hotspots for birds of prey and we stopped to take a picture of this one. It was interesting to see chickens in the yard of the house over which the bird was hovering, running for cover; smart!

Not sure what bird of prey but looks impressive soaring overhead

Not sure what bird of prey but looks impressive soaring overhead

Some kind of bird of prey threatening the local chickens! blue sky

Some kind of bird of prey threatening the local chickens!

Thank you holiday! You have energised and refreshed me and I’ll always remember the wonderful bird finding, watching and photographing that I have so enjoyed!

I highly recommend Swan Bay, Lake Lorne and Queenscliff in general for bird watchers. There are so many different types and such an abundance of birds! A fabulous area and one I’ll be happy to return to in the return. But for now, onward and upward 🙂

Rainy Days and Mondays

Have you heard that song?? Olivia Newton-John sings it beautifully with her haunting, husky voice:

“Hanging around, nothing to do but frown, rainy days and Mondays always get me down”.

Not very inspiring, but it’s a song that resonates with me. As it has done for many years. As a teenager my parent’s concession to music in the car was not the top 40 station in our town. If there was going to be music, it would be Mum’s pick of classic FM or Dad’s pick of Olivia Newton-John or various country singers. And I got to love Olivia’s Indigo Women of Song album; I would pick it out to play just for myself, not just listening because someone else was choosing the music.

Probably the indigo theme and the songs resonated with me so much that first summer that I heard them because I was in a depression. I didn’t know that’s what it was. All I knew is that we were on holidays at the beach, my favourite place in all the world and everyone around me was happy. But I wasn’t happy. I was sad, I felt worthless, I felt that I was separated from all the fun, unable to engage, unmotivated, tired. I faked it, and I don’t think anyone around me knew just how terrible I was feeling. I felt like the earth was going to end. I felt like I couldn’t survive. I couldn’t sleep – I would toss and turn with my thoughts all night long, getting maybe a few fitful hours in the early morning. I felt like all these awful thoughts that were running circles in my brain were haunting me!! I couldn’t get away from them! My then-boyfriend, now amazing husband doesn’t remember me being depressed. But he remembers how many fights we had that holiday. I don’t remember any fights, all I remember is feeling so so bad and not knowing why or how to fix it.

I look back on the happy snaps, and I see the smiles into the camera and they don’t look fake. There are some real “I’m happy to be here” smiles. Was I that good at faking, or were there some great moments amongst the crippling darkness that I just didn’t notice? Were they the moments when I was able to shut my mind to the black and despairing thoughts? And truly be happy? I don’t know. It was a long time ago. I do remember good parts of that holidays to Robe, SA. Discovering the ‘Coconut Robe’ and playing chess together while eating icecream. Going for drives exploring the surrounding countryside and boogy boarding down sand dunes. Stopping off half way to check out some cool waterfalls.

There were good moments. A lesson I’ve learned this year is that even the worst days have good moments. It’s a cliche, but it really is true. So now I try to look for those moments. It takes practice, it requires you to put in an effort, and there are days when it’s so hard it seems impossible. But it’s worth it if you get there. IF.

So that was my summer of 2007. I had completed one year of uni studying pharmacy, and one year of living in the big smoke. I was going on holidays with my family of 6 and my boyfriend of 4 years. We were going somewhere new, a big occasion because every year except one we had always gone to the same beach location in NSW.

I was 19 years old. I was depressed. I did nothing about it. I thought it was some kind of punishment, or that the thoughts in my head were some kind of trial that I had to get through. I didn’t understand it was a chemical imbalance that could only be corrected by replacing the chemicals. I didn’t think to go to a doctor, a counsellor or to tell anybody. I thought it was something I had to deal with on my own. So I did. And it eventually got less and less and it did subside. It took months. MONTHS. All the while I was desperately trying to fill in my life with distractions: TV series, chocolate/chips/lollies/takeaway food, going out with friends, staying out late, listening to music loudly to block out the sound of my thoughts, taking up new hobbies etc. All the while tackling a second year of uni and life in the big smoke and expecting big achievements from myself, as always.

I was diagnosed with depression in December 2013. Nearly 6 years later. Finally a label. Finally a treatment plan. Finally someone validating the awfulness, the fear, the guilt, the terrible circulating thoughts, the exhaustion, the lack of enjoyment and motivation.

There is nothing that feels so awful as being sad in the middle of the perfect life!

I had wondered. I had thought out the fors and againsts. I’m a health professional. I know the diagnostic criteria. But of course, with the unrelenting high standards that I hold myself to, I didn’t think I was “that bad”. I had even gotten to thinking maybe I should go to a doctor and ask. But I didn’t, I said to myself “you’re just being lazy and slack, pull yourself together and stop looking for excuses”.

I look back over my life and draw a lifeline. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, looking back. From 12 years old to today. I draw in events: starting high school, getting a boyfriend, a traumatic relationship, Mum getting cancer, a terrible job, friend dying. Everyone has their own lifeline and events are more or less severe. Lots of things happen in life. But with the knowledge and experience of this beast I now see my life differently.

I see that summer when I thought I was going to have to go to high school with the bullies from primary school and I see now that I was withdrawn, awfulising (my GP’s word), ruminating, I lacked interest in events around me, I couldn’t enjoy the holidays. I was depressed. This wasn’t just a fear that is logical. This was obsessing day and night, can’t sleep, expecting the worst, sure that life is going to be terrible.

This is not normal. I have to keep this thought in the front of my mind now. I have lived with this monster for so long, and thought it was just a part of life for so long that I expect so much of myself in very adverse circumstances.

I see the winter of 2004 when I was dating my then-boyfriend-now-husband but was obsessed with thoughts of the past, felt worthless, undeserving of him, unmotivated and like nobody could love me. I was depressed.

This is not normal. Starting to date someone should be a time filled with happiness, enjoyment of life, fun and games. Which is what I was on the surface but underneath I was tortured. I thought I should tell him I can’t keep dating you because I am so unworthy, so damaged, so broken. Not normal.

The song calls them rainy days. Today is a rainy day. Not literally, although it’s meant to rain and hail later in the afternoon. I actually woke up to bright sunshine shining on the eucalypt trees outside my window. No sunshine comes into my bedroom in the morning. There are no rays of light shining onto my floor, my bed, my face. I wake up, and then look out to see what kind of day it is. I would like it so much more if I had an east-facing bedroom window, so that the sunshine could come right in and shine on my face to wake to me. But it is what it is.

“What I’ve got, they used to call the blues, nothing is really wrong, feeling like I don’t belong, walking around, some kind of lonely clown, rainy days and Mondays always get me down”.

The blues. Sounds lovely to me, determined as I am to avoid the blacks, the midnight navy, the deep greys and even the light greys. Colours are a great representation but I think that label “the blues” trivialises the condition that is depression.

There is a deep dark difference between having the blues, feeling blue, feeling down, having a rough day, and being depressed. Not to make light of anyone who feels down, it’s never nice, but “the blues” and depression are not interchangeable describing words.

So a rainy day. This isn’t a day of depression as such, it’s a day of in-between. Not feeling good, not feeling great, just not feeling too much. A ‘meh’ or ‘blergh’ or ‘ish’ day. Unmotivated, energy-poor, wanting to stay in bed all day, not bothered to do too much, can’t see the point in much. Leaking tears every now and then, otherwise just going “okay”. Kind of sitting on the brink of okay and not okay. Nothing really wrong, just not where I want to be over there with everyone else enjoying their day.

“What I feel has come and gone before, no need to talk it out, we know what it’s all about…”

It’s just one of those days. I’ve had them before, I guess I’ll have them again. Nothing tragic has happened, but the world is just tinged blueish. I know it’s just a result of the chemistry being not quite right. Partly my fault. I’m taking a regime of antidepressants where I have one at 7am, one at 11am and one at 2pm. Not the easier to remember so I have my life set to alarms to help me remember. However I went into the city at 10am yesterday and forgot all about taking the tablets with me. So I missed 11am, then I missed 2pm then by the time I got home at 3.30pm I wasn’t sure whether to take them so I didn’t. Not a great move, by 6pm I was a dreary little raincloud sitting around the house waiting for something to go wrong, and waiting to rain. Which I did. So then I figured I didn’t care if I didn’t sleep, I would take one late anyway. And it helped.

The fact that missing a tablet or taking a tablet can change my day shows how fragile the balance of chemistry still is. I’m a ways off being stable. But patience, patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day, etc. I just want to rush the process of getting stable. 9 weeks off work, sitting around the house all day – sounds like fun to someone working full time but I am not finding it fun anymore. It’s more tedious than fun.

But, still I have to try to find the fun, find the benefits, find the happiness in each day. Every day is a gift, whether it feels like it or not. It’s up to me to see the silver lining, the cup half full, the upside etc.

So what is it today?? Some TLC from my great husband, lunch out together at a bakery on the river, a bit of birdwatching, doing some chores together. Gotta keep looking past the rainy days and Mondays to find the sunny days, even the cloudy days without rain. Seeing the good inside the bad is a good plan, a sound plan. It’s one that I have on a poster on the wall because it’s hard to remember. Still, I keep trying. And that’s what counts, isn’t it?

Picture of a cloudy, rainy day over the river

Walking along the river after a nice lunch at the bakery, looking up for birds with rain dropping in my eyes, swallows flitting overhead and a very brisk wind!

Pretty white flowers with yellow centre

Finding joy in unexpected places, pretty white flowers dancing in the wind and rain near the bakery