Start Taking Mental Health Seriously
February 25th, 2014
Following the very sad & sudden death of Charlotte Dawson over the weekend, I’ve found myself compelled to write about mental illness, or more appropriately the fact that I believe mental health issues don’t seem to be taken very seriously in Australia & New Zealand.
Mental health & suicide are always going to be hugely divided & debated issues. I do truly believe however, that somewhere along the line we’re getting colder & harsher & very unforgiving towards other peoples suffering.
Something I’ve noticed following Charlottes death has been the serious lack of compassion & empathy from fellow New Zealanders & Australians. Perhaps humans in general, I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but this is the impression I get from the environment & society I live in.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been some very beautiful & touching things written & said & with a bit of luck & a lot of hard work, hopefully some positive outcomes can come from a terrible situation.
However, I continue to be disgusted & disappointed at the blasé attitude the majority of antipodes seem to have towards mental health issues.
Harden Up. Take a Concrete Pill. Dry Your Tears Princess. Suck It Up. Stop Being Such a Girls Blouse.
Any of those sound familiar?
Don’t get me wrong, I am a massive advocate for positivity & being grateful for the lives we live. I truly believe we are the makers of our own destiny & the only ones responsible for our own happiness.
However, we are all very different. And these things are all too often easier said than done.
One persons journey isn’t going to be the same as someone else’s.
Depression is a very serious mental illness. Because of its complexity & the fact that it cannot be seen, (as say a broken bone can be seen) means that it is very difficult to treat.
A type of medication that works for one person may not work for another. It can take years for someone to find a medication that works for them. And in the mean time the pressures of life really can take their toll.
That’s why counselling, in one form or another is also very important & in my opinion should go hand in hand with medication when it comes to mental illness.
What if no medication or form of counselling helps? Everyone’s reaction to any type of health care is going to be different. This is why it is so hard to treat.
It is all too easy to sit there & say someone like Charlotte Dawson created the life she lived, had money & everything at her disposal.
This means nothing!
Just because life “appears” picture perfect on the outside, doesn’t mean she wasn’t fighting demons on the inside. She did create a very successful life for herself, but that doesn’t automatically equate to guaranteed eternal happiness.
Everyone’s story is different, no ones journey is the same as the next person. We are all fighting our own internal battles everyday. But because we are all so incredibly different, some of us are wired to deal with the hard times, perhaps a little better than others.
What disgusted me the most with this news over the weekend, is the reaction from what appears to be “extremist groups”. And people that I can only assume have never suffered from, or been close to someone that has suffered from depression, anxiety or mental illness of some sort.
The general theme seems to be that as human beings we all have our fair share of bad things happen to us, that we should just get over it & move on.
Depression didn’t exist “back in the day” & it’s just an excuse for pharmaceuticals to sell drugs, is another common line I’m hearing.
Like I said, I doubt very highly that any of these people has suffered from or even been close to someone that has been affected by depression.
When you haven’t experienced something your self, or witnessed first hand how it can affect another human being, it is very difficult to understand. So in that sense, I don’t take these heartless comments too seriously, but at the same time part of me does wonder, what kind of person can judge another persons pain, their life, their situation, without even knowing them, or having the first idea of what they have been through?
What gives any of us the right to measure someone else’s pain or suffering?
I do realise that lots of different people commit suicide every day. Some people see it as unfair that Charlotte Dawson is all over the news because she decided to take her own life, but what about someone else that is in the same situation but isn’t in the public eye & doesn’t get a mention?
Fact of the matter is, she was in the public eye. She was a pretty well known figure in both Australia & New Zealand. Her death is going to be all over the news & the papers, whether you like it or not.
When you are a well known person, that’s what happens.
It doesn’t make her death any more important than anyone else’s.
So rather than getting upset about something so trivial as the fact that her death is making headlines, why not try to take to best out of an incredibly tragic situation?
Take the fact that her death & illness is making headlines & use it for good.
Let this be another reminder to take mental health seriously. Lets get these anti cyber bullying laws passed & raise awareness. Lets get rid of this barbaric assumption that mental illness is a choice, or a punishment, or an easy fix. Lets start taking it seriously & start to show some real compassion & empathy for our fellow human beings.
Just because someone looks as happy as can be on the outside, doesn’t necessarily mean that all is well on the inside.
Ask your friends & family if they are okay. Tell them you love them.
Don’t ever underestimate the pain of another person.
And no matter what, always be kind. Always.
THE PROBLEM WITH FACEBOOK & WHY I WON’T BE RETURNING
February 20, 2014
It all started off rather casually. A series of photos popped up on my newsfeed, one in particular that rubbed me the wrong way & I disabled my account.
Maybe out of haste, but really just out of pure annoyance. I had every intention of returning. I’d deleted my account in the past & returned after a few weeks hiatus.
But something happened over the next few weeks that I hadn’t expected.
It was like a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t miss it. I didn’t miss any of it. The likes, comments, notifications, check-ins, pages, groups, posts, photos, friend requests or newsfeed. Not a single thing.
I started to realise that I didn’t actually like facebook. In fact, the whole thing really pissed me off.
I really don’t care that you can bench press 100kg & feel the need to announce it to your world of cyber friends. Your brooding bathroom selfie does absolutely nothing for me, except scream “in desperate need of attention”. Same with your half naked profile picture showing off your new tattoo. None of it impresses me in the slightest.
A good friend of mine asked me if I’d sent out a “group email” to announce my departure from the world’s most popular social networking site? Well, no. If we’re close enough then they’ll have my number or email address. Failing that, if they’re keen to get in touch, then they’ll be able to contact someone that does have my details. It’s not like I’ve become un-attainable.
In 2006 I lived in London & facebook hadn’t yet hit my group of friends & I. We called each other & caught up with each others news by talking face to face or over the phone. When you think about it, these days you can quite easily keep up with what’s going on in other peoples lives without having any actual contact with them. It’s all there on screen to view! I don’t think that’s necessarily such a good thing.
Add to all that the issue of exes & trying to distance yourself from being bombarded with reminders of them. Deleting or blocking a person is a quick fix, but what about mutual friends? Seems so much easier to just remove the common denominator that connects you all – yourself.
How “real” is it all anyway? It started to appear to me, as if it was all some sort of popularity contest or competition to see who led the most exciting life. I will admit that I definitely felt the pressure to post photos of holidays & check in at every restaurant or event I went to, no matter how mundane it really was.
When you break it all down, none of it really matters. If your life really is so exciting, then why is so much of it spent online?
Needless to say you won’t find me on facebook anymore. However, Instagram (ironically owned by facebook) I do like. Un-complicated photo sharing & I am a big fan.
Here’s to not conforming to the mainstream! From what I’ve been reading lately, it seems I’m not the only one to give facebook the big flick.
WHY LIFE GETS EASIER WHEN YOU CARE LESS
Note: Care less. Not, don’t care at all. There is such a fine line. Keeping the balance of caring. Not too much & not too little.
Probably to put it better would be to say choosing the right things to care about, be it people or situations. And letting go of the things that really don’t matter.
I’ve been fighting this battle for 28 years. I’m by no means a “perfect” person (what is that anyway), but I am by nature very gentle & caring. Generally seen as good qualities, but can sometimes be a curse for the holder. I’ll admit, I’ve spent the most part of my life trying to please everyone, keep everyone happy & get everyone to “like” me. It has made my journey thus far an emotional rollercoaster & quite frankly a complete head fuck.
I can honestly say in the past six months, I have finally taken on the old adage of “look out for number one”, or as I prefer to describe my new outlook “love the ones that love you back”. It is like a giant weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
In my life I’ve had relationships break down, with both friends & lovers. I’ve been chewed up & spat out by people I loved & trusted. Ripped off by one employer & taken advantage of by others. I’ve had my house robbed, car broken into & abuse yelled at me as I walk down the street, if for no other reason than just because I was there.
Turns out not everybody likes me! No everybody agrees with what I have to say! Not everybody wants to be my friend!
And you know what? I’m perfectly okay with that. Every single event in my life has brought me to this point right now & I’m pretty happy with the person I’ve become.
You know why that’s so great? Because that’s what I think. I am truly the most important being in my own world. I’m the only person that has to put up with me on a daily basis, the only person that has to live with me & the only person I know how to be.
The moment I started taking stock & stopped giving a shit about people & situations that didn’t matter, was the moment I truly started to live.
Cut yourself some slack. Love the people that love you back. The ones that are in your corner through thick & thin. Cut loose those that bring you down & only pop in & out of your life when it suits them.
Free yourself from taking on everyone else’s worries, expectations & insecurities. Start living & loving your life. Easier said than done sometimes, but if you’re a worrier & a bit of a people pleaser like me, I encourage you to give it a go.
4 REASONS BEING SINGLE ON VALENTINES DAY SHOULDN’T GET YOU DOWN
I know posts like this pop up everywhere you look this time of year. I’m not about to jump on the over loaded band wagon of singles dropping bombs on February 14.Truth is, I think most of us would admit, it is kind of nice having someone special in the mix on Valentines Day. Whether you choose to make a big deal out of the day or not.This is just my take on reasons why you, like me, should embrace your singledom this Valentines & not beat yourself up on your lack of a significant other.Last year I thought I did pretty well in the affection & gift giving department with my girlfriend at the time. She was more interested in organising a card for a mutual friend. That’s cool. Can’t win them all. I did receive a gift a week or so after the fact, so I can’t complain too much.The year previous I also put in a decent amount of effort with another former flame. She broke up with me a few days later.I’m not bitter. Both relationships were unhealthy & I’m sure both other parties would agree they are better off, as am I.I’m actually really relishing my single status & my first single Valentines Day in 3 years.If you’re also single, don’t despair. I’ve scribed a list of my 4 favourite reasons to embrace being a wolf pack of one, on this day where every restaurant world wide is inundated with tables of two.
1. YOU WON’T GET DUMPED
Apparently February the 14th isn’t off limits for ending a relationship. (Neither are the couple of weeks leading up to your birthday, just ask a couple of my exes about both these dates. No day of the year is sacred).
2. NO EXPECTATIONS = NO DISSAPOINTMENT
Plain & simple. We’re all human & having expectations comes with the territory. Whether we like it or not. In my experience, expectations, be they big or small, all too often lead to disappointment. Flying solo, you get to avoid the very real chance of building the day up, only to be let down like a lead balloon.
3. YOU GET TO SAVE PAPER/MOOLAH/COIN/CASH MONEY
However you refer to your hard earned dollar, look forward to saving a decent portion of it. Prices everywhere, of everything however relevant they may be (cards, flowers, chocolates, stuffed animals) seem to get bumped up in February. Add to that, the chance you get carried away spoiling your other half & this one little day can wind up costing you a small fortune.
4. NO STRESSING OVER FINDING THE PERFECT GIFT
Chocolates & a teddy is sweet, but a little too cliché – think “hey just casually stopped at the petrol station on the way home.” Jewellery is generally a little too much – “I’m potentially already planning our wedding.” Where to find the happy medium? It’s a fucking nightmare. As a side note, I used to buy the odd gift for my girlfriend through out the year & then keep it stashed away for special occasions. Incase I couldn’t find anything when the day rolled around. This works well, that is until you break up & you’re left with a bunch of crap you don’t want or need.So this February 14, on the international day of “love”, instead of crying into your pillow, appreciate the little things. Celebrate all the wonderful perks of not being in a relationship. Buy yourself a gift, do something you love to do. I’ll more than likely be enjoying an emu bitter, while eating sangas off the bbq with a bunch of my workmates. As we usually do on a Friday night, after a hard days work in remote North Western Australia. Live in the moment & appreciate the little things. Being in a relationship is not the be all & end all.