Beautiful Scars

Drawn by early 20th-century commercial cat ill...

Drawn by early 20th-century commercial cat illustrator Louis Wain near the beginning of his mental illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mental Illness, like many other illnesses can leave us with a scar or weakness. If you have had a nasty respiratory infection or pneumonia you may be left with a tendency to develop a cough with every virus.
If you seriously injure a muscle or tendon in a limb, you may have a continued weakness in that area that requires physiotherapy from time to time.

Mental illness is not so different. Even those of us who have been treated and made a recovery can often feel the scars. Some people may never be free of their difficulty, but many will learn to live with it the same way a surgery patient learns to live with a scar.
Our scars don’t fade the same way a physical scar fades. Our memories may fade or they may evolve as our perception of ourselves changes but the scar remains.

That doesn’t mean we walk around with a big old cloud hanging over our forlorn little heads. No indeed! We can make use of our scars. They enable us to recognise when we might be slipping again and ask for help, because now we know to ask for help. We can recognise when someone else is suffering and support them. A guiding scar.

And it seems that these inflictions are not just an illness, but for some, but a gift. A beautiful creative gift.
Many of our literary geniuses suffered with mental illness. My wanderings through blog land have proven this to be true. There are a lot of heartbreaking, heart warming and beautifully written pieces out there by souls with beautiful scars.
I don’t place myself amongst this talent but I do know that when I am in a dark place I write more creatively. When I write about my pain the words seem to flow. Frankly when I’m in a good place my writing is dull, I think.
Below are two very interesting links from the BBC about creativity being closely entwined with mental illness. And Poetry, the creative process and mental health.
Both highlight the fact that sufferers of mental health seem to experience a greater level of creativity even genius.

This is one of those lemons into lemonade thoughts. That the product of a frenzied mind can be something beautiful. Keep scribbling away folks, not only is it cathartic for you, you are producing beauty out of darkness.


Getting somewhere? Sequel to Hoping for Progress

Have I finally made progress? Has someone finally responded to my requests? Am I finally going to be able to feel useful, do something with my time here?

Will I be able to say of my time in Hong Kong, “I did something worthwhile”?

Since recovering from those darker days I have had this uneasy feeling that I am simply killing time in Hong Kong. Murdering it frankly.
Each day I struggle to find productive tasks to fill my time. And why am “filling” the time?
It’s like I’m in some kind of limbo, a waiting room (bloody huge waiting room) to the rest of my life. At least I hope it’s my life beyond the waiting room door! I’ll be mighty pissed off if I find its the end of my days.

Out of the 3 emails I sent earlier this week I got…..wait for it…. 2 replies! Woohoo! Someone IS out there. It’s not a city full of emotionless droids after all.

Annerley Midwives got back to me. They agreed, someone actually agreed with me! They agreed there was a lack of PND support in Hong Kong and want to meet with me to organise a support group. Finally there will something for PND mums, someone to turn to and I will be a part of that.

I also heard from the Community Advise Bureau. They want to interview me as a volunteer, helping people who are new to Hong Kong find their feet.

If you could only imagine what this does for my spirit. Just the thought that I finally get the opportunity to reach out and help someone. Be useful instead of a waste of skin!

The last 4 years have drifted by to the tune of my thumbs twiddling. I was worried I would eventually leave with nothing but negative memories and a bad taste in my mouth. Hopefully, now I can make my time here seem worthwhile.

If you want to know what happened next, read. One Last Squeeze. It did not all work out the way I thought it might….
Hey Ho Hong Kong.

Transient Friendships.

So today a good friend told me she was leaving Hong Kong. She hasn’t been the first, she won’t be the last but it doesn’t get easier.

That’s the thing with this expat life, everyone is moving in or moving on. One minute you’re here, the next it’s Singapore, Tokyo, Shanghai, or back home, wherever home might be.

It was hard leaving my home, family and friends in the first place. Friends I had known for a long time, relationships that had taken years to grow, people who understood me. I felt I would never make friends like that in Hong Kong.

However, it is possible to make close friends in this transient environment. Out of necessity we manage to locate each other through trial and error.

At first a lot of the women I met were other mums with kids similar in age to mine. Total strangers but we exchanged numbers anyway. Some of them became friends, others not. Some seemed to do nothing but drink coffee and have pedicures, others were so extraordinarily busy they never had time for hello.
Eventually I’d meet someone who I clicked with, our kids might even get along.
But I’m cautious because sometimes; well people aren’t always what they seem. I’ve been let down, used as free baby sitting in the guise of play dates and snubbed for no apparent reason.

But I have also been lucky.
One friend V, saved me from certain insanity. The day after I came home from hospital with the new baby, the flat next door began renovations. The noise was beyond unbearable. Intense pneumatic drilling from 9am sharp until 5pm with a 1 hour break for lunch. V gave me a key to her house and I could turn up whenever with my kids and spend all day there if I chose. She left a year later to return home, we lost touch.

Another friend L, was the life and soul of the party. Always smiling and never took no for an answer. She returned home with a sick child and we all felt at a loss being unable to support her from over here. I do still gossip with her iMessage.

And now another friend departs. I know she’s not happy, and that hurts too. If she was happy and excited, I’d be happy and excited for her. But she’s not and I know I can’t be nearby to support and cheer her. I can’t help her unpack or mind her kids or bring her takeaway and wine. I can only be a voice on the line or words in an email. It’s not the same.

That’s the odd thing about being an expat wife. Your husband is at work all day everyday with something solid to keep him grounded. A purpose. While we’re at home on ever shifting land trying to make it all seem normal for the kids. Our support network is frankly unreliable and so it’s no wonder that many of us are slightly cracked.

Goodbye dear Friend. I won’t forget you. I’ll probably be shit at calling regularly with the sodding time differences n all. My emails will over long and whatever we say now, it’s going to be a long long time if ever until we meet again. Thanks for all the laughs and frank conversations. I’ll miss you.

2.5 Seasons

I like seasons, all of them. I like summer, who doesn’t? Sunshine, longer days, school holidays. Nice.
I love Autumn, not Fall, Autumn. I love the colours, the smells, just the pure feel of it. School starts again and it feels like a new beginning. Indeed Halloween was once celebrated as New Year, a time to say goodbye to all things dying to make way for new life. I love the smell of bonfires and those last few warm days before winter makes its presence felt.
I like winter. Yes I do. I don’t mind the cold when I know I can get warm, really toasty warm. I love wearing snuggly jumpers and hats and scarves. Then what I love most of all is that first scent in the air that heralds the coming of spring.
And I love spring. I love it wet and breezy and green and full of life. Spring smells good too, it smells green. I love all the seasons.

Sadly I find seasons in Hong Kong rather disappointing. To me, Hong Kong has 2 seasons. Hot n Wet (summer) and Cool n Dry (winter). At this moment in time we are experiencing something in between. Cool n Wet. I guess this must be spring. So lets say 2.5 seasons because it’ll only last a few weeks.

Hot N Wet starts in May. Dead on May. Not around May, May. May 1st, wham! Someone turns on the furnace and sets it to High.
It’s hot, it’s humid, it rains so hard it hurts. It rains so hard that the rain actually bounces off the pavement and up your legs.
We get weather warnings and rain has a colour code. Amber, Red and Black.
Amber is get ready to get a bit wet and see the rain literally beat the leaves off trees. It’s just occurred to me that Amber is a funny colour code for rain, I guess that’s where the phrase “pissing it down” comes from.
Red is stop and watch as the drains back up and turns the garden into a lake.
Black is stay inside and build an Arc.

Then we get typhoons which are like hurricanes but Asian. Typhoons are numbered according to their proximity to Hong Kong.
T1 is standby for a breeze.
T3 is breezy, you might want put your potted plants somewhere safe.
Then it jumps for no apparent reason to T8, which is a tree bender and branch breaker.
Last year there was a T10 which was pretty full on. It tore up 6 large trees in our local plaza bringing up half with surrounding pavement.
A T3 closes kindergarten schools, because our 3 year olds can’t stand to mess their hair up in a breeze.
T8 is a public holiday.
Just before a typhoon it usually gets really hot. Then we get a Hot weather warning. Thanks. Like I hadn’t noticed!

By October it’s cooled down enough to kill off the mosquitoes and cockroaches and we commence with BBQ season! Yippee.
For some reason none of the housing seem to have double glazing or adequate heating, so if Cool n Dry gets any colder than 10° it’s hard to get that snuggly warm I was talking about before.
Again we get weather warnings. We actually get Cold Weather warnings. Honestly, if its under say, 16° we get a warning and reminded to put on a jumper. Thanks! Seriously Hong Kong, you don’t know what cold is. You don’t even get ice!

But for all this there is little change. The trees don’t really change colour and their leaves fall at random times throughout the year (especially when it’s an Amber rain). It’s either Hot n Wet or Cool n Dry with exception of about 3 weeks in April this year where it’s still quite cool and has rained relentlessly the whole time. This is usually the best time of year to plant and Aunty put down grass seed a week ago only to watch it get washed away the next day when the garden became a pond. So who knows what season we’re in right now.

Losing my Voice


You’re not listening to me,

You’re not listening to me,

Perhaps that’s not it.

You can’t hear me,

You can’t hear me because I’m losing my voice.


I miss my voice,

I miss my voice,

It said things that made me laugh,

It told me to be strong,

It sang to me about the great mysteries.

But now its so so faint and says nothing,

It says nothing because no one was listening.