Monday, 3 March 2014

Twits

My husband decided to take a month off social media. He's doing it for research, to see what it's like to be switched off. It was an interesting idea and made me think pretty hard about how much I check twitter, and what a big part of my social connection comes from twitter. I figured it wouldn't do me any harm to disconnect from that for a month.

For the month of March I've turned twitter off.

It, three days in, has been an incredibly strange experience. So strange that I don't know if I'll make it the entire month.

I have come to realise that I get all my news from twitter. All of it. It is the first thing I read in the morning. Things my friends are doing, news articles, all of it comes from that first 5 minute read the second I wake up.

It feels like I'm disconnected from everything without having that link to twitter. And this disconnection comes despite still having that social connection via Instagram and Facebook.

I have trouble reconciling the idea that this 140 character link has become such a defining part of my daily experience. I check twitter at least once an hour via my phone, and when at home it is always on. Sitting on the couch I surf via my iPad, but I can always see my computer with twitter feed open to be able to glance and see what is going on. My computer almost feels like it has no value without having a twitter feed always on display (almost, I use my computer for work daily).

With my limited three day experience I am fascinated to see where this goes. I almost feel less tense, more relaxed, without that constant feed of information, but I also feel weirdly almost anxious, but not quite, that I have no idea what's going on in the world. I know I could get the information if I wanted, but I don't really want to.

I'm very conflicted about this, and that's surely to get more confusing as time goes on.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Silence

A woman I admire died today. I didn't know her at all. Never had the chance to meet her, but I interacted with her a few times on twitter.

She was kind, forthright, thoughtful, passionate, and spoke openly about mental illness and depression. She talked about her previous suicide attempts, about how upsetting it was for her to be attacked on twitter, to be told to kill herself, to be bullied constantly by gutless, faceless, cowards. I don't know much of the details about how she died, but it seems like she killed herself. I can only imagine why. Nobody, perhaps not even her family, will know why she thought this was the only option open to her.

I expect, as this is debated online and off, that she'll be called selfish for making this choice and leaving behind so much. She was beloved, even by those who only knew her via social media. She was also hated in a way that I can't even comprehend. She was spoken to in ways no human deserves. Regardless of the circumstances, the perception of suicide being selfish is an easy conclusion to come to, but comes from flawed reasoning of people that don't really understand what it's like to live with depression.

Depression kills you in silence. The reality of being loved is impossible to understand when the silence in your mind is attacking you and making you believe you are valueless. Even in the middle of a crowd of friends and family, it dampens the noise and fills you with despair that only another person that has lived with depression can possibly understand. Even someone who lives with it day in and day cannot understand your depression. Nobody can. Your own mind rebels against you and fills you with such fear and sadness.

I live with depression every day. And anxiety. It is a horrible reality I can't explain to those that love me. It is a fear so deep within me that I can't bring it close enough to the surface of my mind to give it words. I fight it with medication, will, and anger. Only the deep anger I feel at being filled with this deeply horrible despair can drive the sadness away. Even then it is only for a time.

There have been times that I have felt so overwhelmed by depression that I have considered, and tried, to commit suicide. I was unsuccessful and I'm glad. Because I lived I've experienced so much, not all of it wonderful, but all of it worth it.

There are few words that can bring someone back from the brink. It's so hard to believe that anything can be good when you live in a silent sadness all the time. But there are people who can help. You just need to find the strength to ask.

Phone a friend, phone your family, phone a total stranger, phone lifeline. Ask for help. Find that spark of anger inside you that's saying "I want to live" and use it to pick up the phone and ask for help. There is no shame in saying you need help. It is not weak to be vulnerable.

In the world of depression silence is the enemy, and the only way to beat it is to speak out. Not just when you're in trouble, but every day. Mental illness shouldn't be spoken of in hushed whispers of shame. It should be talked about openly so that those that live with it know they can ask for help.

If you are lost please don't hesitate to contact lifeline or a mental health helpline. In Australia you can 13 11 14 anytime day or night. Save your own life, because it really does get better.


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Stage 2

And here we are.

We lodged our prospective marriage visa on 13 August 2013. On 31 October that visa was granted and only three weeks later Americo arrived here with three giant suitcases in tow.

Two more weeks and we were married. Nine days later we had our first "real" Christmas together. Then our first New Year. And our first Valentines day.

And today, just two days after our two month wedding anniversary, Immigration has granted his temporary residency visa.

For the next two years he gets to stay here. We don't have to do any more applications. We don't have to pay any more money. In two years they get in touch and ask for some more evidence that we're still together, and then, all going according to plan he gets permanent residency.

For all our six years of apart, and the stresses that come with a long distance relationship, we have been astoundingly lucky in our immigration process. Our applications were straight forward, our approvals fast, and our case officers kind and professional. I am painfully aware the process is far from easy for most, and even our process wasn't entirely easy.

We were prepared for this in so many ways because we are both well organised with our emails, calls and evidence. We knew long in advance of our application that we'd need to have evidence, so we kept our skype call logs and chats, we kept so many emails, all the travel documents, letters, cards, both to each other and from others. Add to that our joint love of photography and there is an overwhelming amount of evidence of our relationship and love for each other.

My particularly organised brain and my experience with understanding government forms made it easy to put all the evidence together and complete the forms. Even with that experience we both managed to get questions wrong because of confusing wording. For people that don't have experience with government it must be painfully challenging to fill in those forms. I can't even imagine the greater difficulty for those for which English is not their first language.

Australia is a beautiful country. We are full of kind people with great hearts that have capacity to love and welcome people from all around the world. We are a country of immigrants whose cultures and traditions make this beautiful country what it is.

My wish for this country, and the world in general, is that we can all find within ourselves the kindness to make immigration as easy for everyone, as it was for us.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey

Can you believe it's been a month and a day since I married Americo?

I can't. It feels like we've been married for far longer, which makes sense since we've felt married since we first started to talk to each other in 2007.

We've done so much in the last month, I honestly don't know how we did it all. We've gotten together all the necessary documents for the second stage of our immigration process, and today we paid out another bucket of change to submit and pay for part two.

In case you don't know, there are two ways to get your partner to Australia:

1. You apply straight up for a de facto/spouse partner visa. You need to pay a higher fee and you have to provide a lot more evidence, like joint bank accounts and evidence you'd lived together.

2. You apply for a prospective marriage visa, get married, and then apply for a second stage visa which covers the two part temporary/permanent residency visa.

For us, we felt that the prospective marriage visa process was the easier option for us. We were applying ourselves, rather than through an agent, so we weren't 100% confident on the paperwork and the process. We hadn't lived together, didn't have joint bank accounts, and despite the wealth of evidence we had of our relationship we didn't feel confident jumping in the deep end.

After our prospective marriage visa got approved, we had to jump right back into getting the paperwork together for the temporary residency visa. That's part of the reason we put the wedding on fast forward, we just wanted to speed up part two and get right to the woot we're married forever part.

And now we're done with that application. We're just back to to waiting for the lovely immigration people to make a judgement about whether we're legit.

I can only hope that this time around we get lucky with another kind case officer that can see our love in all our evidence.

I can't imagine having to go back to living without him.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

WARNING: Sappy sookie content

It happened to be that tonight I decided to take a bath. It's not really relevant to anything you know this, but it sets a scene.

I was in the bath, upstairs, reading. From downstairs I could hear my husband listening to music and playing the PS4. 

My husband. 

Downstairs. 

IN MY HOUSE. 

He's been here 40 days. We got married 3 weeks ago yesterday. It still feels amazing, but also incredibly surreal and weird that there is a boy in my house. And he's mine. And he's not going back. 

This is like all the time forever. 

WEIRD.

I kinda need to rename my blog, huh.

And like magic, the ever wonderful Emma comes up with the goods. Give her a follow, if you don't already. She's a gem.