On Tuesday I began taking St John’s Wort, which is a herbal remedy for anxiety, depression, or manic depression. Being herbal, it’s pretty mild – but it’s sufficently hard core that it shouldn’t be taken if you’re pregnant, trying to be pregnant, or trying NOT to be pregnant (by which I mean that it makes the contraceptive pill less effective). Also you definitely shouldn’t mix it with any other mental-illness meds.
It was CSI that got me onto St John’s Wort. They featured an obscure medical condition called “hypergraphia” – the irresistible compulsion to write, and keep writing (that’s physical writing – not editing, researching, or planning one’s literary opus). As with every other psych condition ever invented, once I heard of it, I said, “I totally have that” and after consulting Dr Wikipedia himself, I discovered that St John’s Wort might help.
The really odd part is that it did. When I first began writing full-time (which was early on in my mental illness), any day that I spent working on a novel was a day I wasn’t able to work on any other piece of writing. It also menat I was hazy at best in my conversational skills. I remember meeting a friend for coffee and finding the whole world stangely coloured around me. (No, I hadn’t been taking any illegal substances.) Since taking St John’s Wort, I became able to remain connected to the real world while writing. Which I’m sure my partner appreciates, since I work almost exclusively on novels these days (which reminds me: I send out a short story to a mailing list on the first day of each month. If you’d like to be on the list, say so in a comment anywhere on this blog and it shall be done – I can see people’s email addresses, but no-one else can).
Play along at home: Stressed? Moody? Sad? You might not be mentally ill, but St John’s Wort may help you stay not crazy. Sane = good (at least, from what I remember). It’s in any supermarket, with all the other pills.
And now. . . . the moment you’ve all been waiting for (except for those of you who didn’t notice it’s Friday today) . . . the complete “Bridezilla” story (the next story, the post-apocalyptic “And then I woke up”, begins on 5 May):
It’s pay day, so I buy pillows. Luckily my wedding dress makes a good maternity dress. I hope this plan works. Tomorrow, here I come.
I dress as a VERY expectant bride and go to the bakery store. As I order a huge pile of hot cross buns, I put one hand to my giant stomach.
“Oh you poor dear!” says the matronly type I’ve been observing for days. “Don’t bother paying for those buns.”
She winks, “And may I STRONGLY recommend entering our restaurant-dinner-for-two competition?”
I obey her while silently applauding my act.
Today I’m a goth bride with heavy eye-makeup and blood-red feathers on my neckline. I mingle in the bar before Amanda Palmer’s concert.
Amanda comes out, hugs me, then takes in my full outfit. “Congrats,” she says – “And you’re NOT paying – or your fiancé, wherever he is.”
Being a goth bride rocks. It’s even better than yesterday’s pregnancy. I’ve never enjoyed a concert so much – or been given so much beer.
I promised my daughter a huge pile of Easter eggs – but I also promised she could continue at her school. So I dress her as my flower girl.
Easter eggs: Check. Nausea: check. Chocolate smears on May’s face: check. Getting chocolate for a flower girl at Easter is almost too easy.
A shrill voice cuts through my pleasure – my ex-bridesmaid, Cherie. “Anna! Did Rob come back and marry you after all?”
“Uh. . . sure. Yep.”
I’m embarrassed after lying to Cherie, so today I go for the dumped bride look. My mascara runs beautifully, and I get more hot cross buns.
As I’m lugging a garbage bag of buns to my car, one of the bakery girls comes and helps me. She says, “Wait a second, do I recognise you?”
I shake my head, but she says, “Yes! I saw you dumped on YouTube. . . but that was a month ago. What the. . .?”
Today I dress as a mum. An emotionally and financially stable mum. I try to arrange my stockings so the holes are hidden inside my shoes.
“We’ve been making allowances because of your. . . incident. . . a month ago. But we must have next term’s fee by the end of this month.”
After the meeting, I go give May a hug. Her teacher stops me and asks for my number.
“Oh no! What did May –”
“Nothing. I want to call YOU.”
I eat hot cross buns, and ask my boss for a raise. Neither goes down well.
When May gets home, I interrogate her about her dark-haired, dark-eyed teacher.
She says, “He’s nice. I got to be the queen in story time.”
I get the card for the free dinner for two at a real restaurant. Yay! Less than an hour later my landlord “drops by”. Uh-oh.
May’s teacher calls, and arranges to pick me up on Saturday. My heart’s fluttering so hard, I can’t eat my dinner (of hot cross buns).
May dresses in her best dress for our dinner of Real Food. I wear a skirt. They greet us with champagne. “Where’s the other newlywed?”
“Uh. . . he had to work,” I say. They hustle us to our highly beflowered table and tell us to order anything we want. We do.
May gets them to make her a hamburger. I have a huge pile of meat and a giant salad. Neither of us eats our bread rolls.
I re-use my pillows to make myself an overweight bride, and take May with me with only an hour to spare before Jack comes to fetch me.
We go to a child care centre. I ask, “Can you fit her in? The reception’s about to start and my normal babysitter quit. Today!”
“Of course we can,” the staff say, “and don’t you dare pay!”
My date is wonderful. Jack is good company and the food is DIVINE.
I shave my eyebrows to become a more lucrative faux bride, and go shopping. I’m about to graciously accept free Docs when I see Jack!
Jack! Shopping as I scam! Disaster! I duck behind the nice lady’s desk, biting my nails in terror. Has he already seen me?
The lady gives a commentary on Jack’s passing. “The hot guy’s trying on sunglasses. . . now he’s going away. He’s gone!”
I flee the scene.
My landlord says, “Pay your rent by Wednesday, or I’ll have you evicted.”
I flaunt my Doc Martens and say breezily, “No prob. See you then.”
May and I spend the first day of her holidays sorting our possessions into “Sell” and “Keep”. I get $3 for four books.
We’ve tried ebay and twelve different friends, but oddly no-one will buy May’s lifesize poster of Edward Cullen. Go figure.
I eat lunch with Jack. He doesn’t mock my eyebrows, but says, “Can we have dinner Friday – with May?”
“YES! Er, that’d be nice.”
I fake receiving an SMS break-up at the service station and get a free tank of petrol. Nice. My eyes are getting tired from fake crying.
May and I put everything we can’t live without into our car and go camping. I don’t think she believes it’s really a holiday.
We go swimming in the creek and May finally relaxes and starts to laugh. For dinner, we roast our hot cross buns over the fire.
Pay day. I’d need three more to pay school fees, and there’s only one more this month. But I have a plan. Today we buy food – sort of.
Eggs for protein and zucchini for vegetable matter. Somehow, toasting zucchini isn’t the same as toasting marshmallows.
For our dinner date with Jack we eat roast lamb with gravy and pumpkin and potatoes. May doesn’t eat the zucchini, and neither do I.
The night is perfect. It’s even kind of fun to pretend to go into our old house before sneaking around the corner to our car.
I dress as a harassed bride and May hides behind a column while I claim a fictional honeymoon booking at a nice hotel – prepaid, of course.
May jumps on the bed while I boil eggs. She says, “This is your best idea ever!”
“Wait and see.”
She eats the minibar peanuts, grinning.
I dress as a just-awoken newlywed and score free breakfast. Fortunately for May, they’re willing to deliver my “fiancé’s” meal to our room.
May’s friend Sara calls to ask if May can sleep over next Friday.
I say, “Definitely. How about two nights?”
Jack calls and we talk for three hours. Mmm. . . school holidays. When the call ends, I can’t remember a single thing we talked about.
Jack and I meet for lunch again. He admires my new Docs. I can’t tell if he’s messing with me or not, but he’s smiling. Is that bad?
I go to a new shopping centre and run into Rob. (Did I mention my ex-fiancé is a cop?) “Are you going to give me my ring back?” he says.
I say, “Are you going to pay me for our reception?”
“We didn’t have one – why should I pay?”
“Because when you cancel on the day, you pay!”
“Give me the ring!” he says.
I say, “Give me the six thousand you owe me – and one seriously impressive apology.”
I’m having lunch at the hotel when one of the staff asks why they haven’t seen my new husband all week. So much for being a newlywed.
My throat tightens. I feel my face flush with humiliation. The waitress blushes back at me and hurries away. Ah. Still a newlywed then!
The hotel is too risky. May has one last jump on the bed, and we pack sadly.
I say, “Don’t worry. My big plan is for Sunday.”
I drop her at her friend’s house and prepare to spend my night in the park. All at once, I begin to hate ducks. Pompous freaks.
Rain. Great. Being a stressed, pregnant, or overweight bride was all very well. Tomorrow the real performance begins – and ends.
I visit my dad in the cemetery to apologise – and explain. “Mum, Dad – I know you would help me if you were alive. But I’m still sorry.”
I dress and act as the daughter of a fallen war hero, and join the veterans after their march as they drink and play two-up in the bar.
When I say how much I miss my dad, they do just what I expected: They pass a hat around. I hear notes rustling and coins chinking.
I watch an old man struggle to bring the brimming hat to me – then Rob walks in. He says, “Did you think I wouldn’t find out?”
Rob calls me fourteen times, and Jack calls fifteen. I don’t answer. Rob SMSes, “I’ll find you.”
Jack SMSes, “I need to see you.”
May brings a note home from school, bearing just eleven words: “I know everything. It doesn’t matter. Sell your ring. Love, Jack.”
I dress as myself and go to the pawn shop with my ring. The girl’s eyes widen. “This is THE ring, isn’t it? From the YouTube breakup?”
I sigh a yes. “Lucky you!” she says.
I say, “Pardon?”
“All that money!?!”
I stare at her: “PARDON?!”
“Didn’t you read the YouTube comments?”
I walk to the car with a money order for the first $10,000. Then I go to the bank. Then I pay the school. Then I pay rent. Then I eat.
Once the treasurer stops apologising to me, Jack and I have lunch in the staff room. “I’d like to buy you a replacement ring,” he says.
I look up from my caviar. “So I can keep conning, or so I can stop playing a bride and start playing a wife?”
He smiles, “Hopefully both.”
I take May out a second time. “What would you like for dinner?”
“Not eggs. Or zucchini. Or hot cross buns.”
“Fish and chips?”
May, Jack and I go out to dinner together. Jack says, “I bet we could scam a fake honeymoon if the three of us worked together.”