Tag Archives: health

Relationships

If my blog had digital cobwebs, I just spent 10 minutes dusting them off. I almost forgot I had a blog. Well, not really. But it sure as shit would seem that way. There’s been something on my mind long enough to warrant me putting my rant hat back on (it’s never far from reach) & deciding it was time. Time to write about something that’s fucking ridiculous (in my opinion).

“10 steps to a better relationship!”, “How to never fight with your partner again”, “How to be the perfect couple”. Obviously, I’m not here to give relationship advice per se. I’m here to have a critical look at what this relationship-angst phenomenon really is. We’re fucking bombarded with this shit. Seriously. As if body image & health & sexuality & all the other god damn things in life didn’t provide us with enough to worry about on a daily basis, now every fuckwit working for every mainstream publication wants to tell YOU how YOUR relationship “should” be. That is if you don’t fit the square hole with your triangle shaped relationship, you should be concerned. The biggest & most annoying stigma, for me, has got to be the old “perfect-couples-never-argue” myth.

A friend aptly asked me a while ago, “do you guys fight?”. ‘You’ being me & my partner. “Always”, I replied, with no hesitation. This reply might seem somewhat shocking to the majority of people. It’s strangely taboo to admit that deciding on a restaurant to eat at can soon escalate into full blown character assassination & a night of sleeping in separate beds. If I had a dollar for every smug person who said to me they never, ever fight with their partner I would have zero dollars actually… Because I just punched them in the face & never spoke to them again. No, but seriously. If you “never” fight, well done. Would you like a cookie? Take it. If that’s your biggest relationship goal then I sort of feel bad for you anyway.

Yeah I just went there...

Yeah I just went there…

Being in a relationship means being around that person all the time. Being in a relationship means finding out the annoying shit about someone. Being in a relationship means dealing with the annoying shit about someone while being around him or her all the time. Being in a relationship also means your feelings are going to get hurt, & you’re going to react in ways that are emotional or irrational sometimes. Sometimes you’ll get drunk & think that your partner was staring at someone else’s ass, when really they were concentrating super hard on not puking in the club. You’ll then tip your drink over their head & have to spend half of Sunday being cutesy-pie & ever so sorry for being such a fuckwit. This is life. Shit happens, hey? It always has. It always will. Why then, do we shame people for doing something relatively normal, like arguing? For admitting sometimes their partner chews really loud & it sounds so gross so they fucking scream at them & then think maybe they could have just said politely to please stop (guilty).

Pretending your relationship is ‘perfect’ is something everyone should stop doing. Right now. It does no one any favours, including yourself. I can’t even imagine how it would feel to be someone who avoids fighting with their partner, just so they can wear the ‘perfect couple’ crown & sit upon some fake as fuck throne made out of bullshit & lies all for the sake of show. Please don’t try to tell me these types don’t exist because they do. I have met them. For those couples I ask; how do you vent? How do you work through issues? How do you know you’re not going to have an aneurism very, very soon?

Unless all you’re doing is fighting & nothing else (& you’ve forgotten what sex is because you can’t trust yourself near their genitals for want of biting it off forever as revenge for that side chick you found out your boyfriend was messaging on Facebook) I would almost be willing to say that if you fight every now & then, you’re on the right track. It means you care. & it means that there is love, passion, fire, & two people that are autonomous from each other.

What could be ‘healthier’ than that?

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‘Psycho’ women

Apparently, there was once a time when ‘bitch’ was actually offensive. I know, right? Archaic. People, more specifically women, seem to be resolved to the notion that being a bitch is way too common & way too cliché to actually balk at. If someone has a vagina, & offends you or irritates you for whatever reason, the easiest thing to call her is a bitch. Because you don’t even need to actually DO anything to be a bitch. It’s used that frequently & inefficiently. There is, however, a word that really bothers me. It bothers me most when it’s being applied to women. & that word is a “psycho”.

I don’t renounce my previous views on feminism. Feminism calls for equality, not special treatment. But given the oppressed status of women sometimes the rules need to be skewed to create a level playing field. Psychopathy is actually a diagnosable personality disorder, something that should not be belittled or stigmatised. Nay, here we are. Calling someone a psychopath may also refer to a state of ‘psychosis‘, & this is where shit starts to get overwhelmingly offensive & sexist when applied to a woman. Psychosis is typified by an inability to distinguish what is real & what is not. Fact & fiction become blurred, often resulting in delusions & hallucinations. Put simply, very serious shit.

I am no stranger to the ‘psycho’ line. If I were, I wouldn’t be writing this. I am a prime candidate for being labelled a female ‘psycho’. Psycho itself is not altogether that offensive on first consideration. I argue, it is the place it COMES from that is offensive & wrong. When being called a psycho, it arises in situations that are probably heated. Emotionally-charged. Perhaps a woman decided to finally say how she felt, in both resignation & exhaustion. For example, finally a woman decided to tell her partner she didn’t like that he kept all his passwords private (IE. under lock & key with a drop of blood & the sacrifice of a baby goat to unlock them). Her partner gawks at her, heckles raised, & calls her a PSYCHO for feeling as though she needs to have that kind of access to his private life. Is she confused about what is real & what is not? Is she DELUDED? No. She’s insecure & their relationship is experiencing some sort of turmoil. But, she is not psychotic. Perhaps the man is psychotic for believing he could keep so much from his partner while still keeping HER too. But we don’t call him the psycho, do we? The woman is psycho. There are no rights & wrongs in this scenario, mind you. I am merely trying to articulate how gendered this word is.

What may even be worse than a man calling a woman psycho (men are not evil. I love men. I date a man. Feminazi’s are feminists scorned in my opinion) is a woman calling a woman psycho. As if she herself has never been unfairly labelled mentally unstable, we women will still turn around & do the same thing to someone else. A woman calling `’women’ as a generalised-collective psychopaths makes me so sad. To watch females take such a gendered & unequal patriarchal myth & continually recycle & re-use it is horrible. Women are not psycho. Women have genuine feelings, & when they voice these feelings it is not because of some deluded whim. Women’s feelings are not hallucinatory. They are real & should be treated as such. Too many times women call other women psycho’s because of how they act when dealing with difficult emotions. Maybe they add every girl on Facebook that their ex adds. Psycho? Apparently. Imagine the consuming inadequacy that is driving that girl to do that, though. She’s not some crazed stalker who is going to burn down your house in the middle of the night, she’s probably looking at your pictures, picking out everything that is AMAZING about you, & crying about it to her best friend because she feels like you are leagues better than her. These are just feelings. Maybe you wouldn’t have done what she did, but understanding why she did it easily explains why she is not, in fact, a legitimate psychopath. Just hurt.

The ultimate paradox, tell a woman she is crazy & that's when she will become "crazy".

The ultimate paradox, tell a woman she is crazy & that’s when she will become “crazy”.

When a man gets called a psycho, he has to have done something pretty abhorrent to earn the title. Say, glass someone in the face over some sweet pussy in the club on the weekend. This is about 5,000 huge leaps above getting emotional over another woman or being insecure. Glassing someone in the face? Only JUST earns the ‘psycho’ tag (& probably jail time). Not letting your boyfriend speak to that other girl who calls him after midnight every weekend because ‘friends’? PSYCHOTIC, OH MY GOD, ADMIT YOURSELF FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT! HOW DARE YOU!

Don’t call a woman a psycho. Unless she burned your house down. & if she didn’t? Well, call her a psycho, & see what happens next I guess…

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“#ZeroTrollerance”

I’ve previously stated that the dialogue about suicide needs to be started. That it’s taboo & shouldn’t be, & that we should find a way to eliminate the shame in talking about suicide. I still stand by this statement. Suicide, like anything else, is a symptom of illness. It says a lot about our society that we can openly discuss sores, snot & rashes as a result of an illness but we cannot fathom discussing suicide at the dinner table. I find it difficult to discuss. I really do, it’s something that has changed my life. Because of this, I am a supporter of anything that facilitates discussion about mental health & suicide. Previously, it has been something that is not to be mentioned.  A real no-no. You’d have people turning up their noses at you & whispering behind their hands about the audacity of such a subject of discussion. That’s changing, & it’s a very positive thing.

A couple of days ago the “#ZeroTrollerance” hashtag reared its head on Facebook. On further investigation, it seems Jules Lund did a radio special with some celebrities to discuss his approach to social media “trolls”. Lund’s advice to just block “trolls” online is probably one of the most logical & level headed responses I have seen lately. You can literally stop it with one button. But no doubt the passing of Charlotte Dawson has influenced this whole paradigm shift in the discussion of mental health. I do not wish to discuss her death, it’s been done enough. I also don’t have the right, I did not know her. I do not know anything about her life, & so am not able to draw intelligent conclusions about the topic. Her passing has magnified the role cyber bullying contributes to mental health issues. Magnified a great deal. Herein lies the problem.

We all should have respect for everyone. We are all human. Skin, flesh & bone. We are all one & the same, pardon the cliché. This is why it’s important to be respectful, kind, & tolerant as much as we possibly can. It’s something I struggle with daily, I am no Saint. I try to practice what I preach. Sometimes it’s fucking hard when someone is driving ridiculously slow & you’re late. But really, when you step outside of your own little universe where you are the sun & that dickhead is Uranus, it doesn’t matter. At all.

Rapid digitization of everything & the anonymity this facilitates, co-mingled with widespread human obsession with social media has borne a new type of bullying. ‘Cyber-bullying’. I cannot deny that respect is lacking on the internet. I’ve experienced it myself. Nor can I deny that it’s sad. It just seems to be a result of giving someone internet access & the ability to hide themselves. We have to expect it. It seems almost… Natural. Dare I say it. It was always going to happen. But the media has drawn a CAUSAL link between cyber-bullying & suicide. As a result, everyone is fighting cyber-bullying as though their lives depend on it. Seriously. As though if we don’t stop it thousands of people may lose their lives. Some may, but it’s melodramatic at best by the media to think that most suicides are a result of bullying.

This is simplistic. This demeans mental health, purely by ignoring the myriad of factors that contribute to it. This, I believe, is not a GENUINE way to prevent suicides. Should people rally against “trolls” (I hate that term). Yes. If they want to. If they feel passionate about trying to eradicate them. Will this reduce suicide statistics on the whole? I’m not sure. Mindframe, using statistics taken from the ABS, say that roughly 2,320 people die by suicide yearly in Australia. 76% of those deaths are male. The narrative told by the media would have us believe most are female, & victims of vitriolic online bullying. The statistics compared to media reporting is somewhat worrying, to say the least. To convince people that suicide is caused by nasty words ALONE is unfair. Suicide is complex. Trying to understand it is a daily burden on those left behind. Trying to understand ones own mental health problems is a metaphorical minefield of heavy shit. So simplifying either of these things seems to be quite offensive. I hope this doesn’t seem dramatic, but I am offended by it. Accepting & understanding the role mental illness plays in suicide is important. Simplifying it isn’t correct. It isn’t fair. It isn’t right.

The 'Biopsychosocial' model of health. A simplistic look at the varying contributing factors to mental health. There are many.

The ‘Biopsychosocial’ model of health. A simplistic look at the varying contributing factors to mental health. There are many.

The ‘zero tolerance’ approach like ‘Charlotte’s Law’ irks me. It’s like a modern day, cyber witch hunt. “Throw them in jail”. “Let them rot”. “They are scum, they should get what they deserve”. Hello? Sound familiar at all? We’re fighting cyber bullying with cyber bullying, are we? The people who feel validated from hurting others are more than likely hurting too. So, we’re going to publicly shame them? Slander them? & try to pass legislation to make it actionable to punish these people? This is illogical. I’m not denying the seriousness of what they do, I argue that CONDEMNING them is too simplistic of a solution also. They are people with underlying causes & reasons as to why they do what they do. Perhaps they suffer from mental illness also. Perhaps they are clinically depressed. It’s all too complicated, intricate & intertwined for me to believe a zero tolerance approach & legislation is the solution.

Encouraging respect is important. Letting people know cyber bullying isn’t okay? Yeah, that’s important too. Simplifying suicide down to the general premise that “being mean might make someone take their life. Don’t do it EVER or we will PUBLICLY CONDEMN YOU” is worrying. Suicide is complex. It deserves respectful dialogue about the MANY underlying causes & factors. Perhaps cyber bullying & suicide have a relationship in some circumstances, but we would be better off separating the two & tackling them as issues in & of themselves. So many people take their lives for a great deal of other reasons. Shouldn’t we acknowledge this & address them too?

SANE Australia helpline
1800 18 SANE (7263) or www.sane.org

Lifeline Service Finder
lifeline.serviceseeker.com.au

beyondblue: the national depression initiative
1300 22 4636 (1300 bb info) or www.beyondblue.org.au

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Anxiety & a dash of OCD

I read recently that the way to keep your readers coming back is to be honest with them. No problems there. But also to reveal things about yourself & be relatable.

The relatable part is easy, for I am merely a normal person. Sorry for being blindingly obvious. The revealing part is also fine with me, as honesty is my best policy with you. But it is slightly scary knowing people potentially can start to put together the tatty patchwork of my whole life story without ever having to meet me. Blogger problems 101? I have decided that revealing things that scare the shit out of me & I wouldn’t EVER say to someone upon meeting them (“hey nice to meet you GUESS WHAT?! I’m having an anxiety attack. Nah it’s cool I pretty much do this daily”) is fine if it helps someone, makes someone feel somewhat better, or perhaps just says it because they feel like they can’t.

I’ve had my fair share of mental health issues, it’s been a constant thing since I was around 12 or 13. The thing is though, I am totally normal. Hell, I think I’m pretty smart & competent actually. People with these problems are often completely functioning members of society. You don’t necessarily have to be bed ridden to be unwell. This is important. In my view, the dialogue about depression has increased tremendously recently. Men’s mental health, post natal mental health, suicide awareness even, has become less ‘taboo’ & more we must do something about this now. I’ve been depressed, MANY people have, I’m sure you know at least more than one. But today I want to tell you about anxiety & why it’s one of the hardest things I have had to deal with. & why it’s so misunderstood.

It sort of snuck up on me I guess, in that way like when you were little one day you woke up with boobs like BAM. You didn’t really just WAKE UP with a busty chest, you just didn’t realise that each day they were growing slowly towards their potential gloriousness (in my case, that it was getting worse & worse). So I guess one day I woke up & all of a sudden I couldn’t leave the house without a sickening churning in my gut. Thinking about anything that had to be done was met with dread, the kind of dread you usually feel when you know something terribly horrible or terribly painful is coming your way. Was there anything terribly horrible or terrible painful imminent as I was sitting at my desk studying each day? No. So why was my body ALWAYS in fight or flight mode? My adrenal glands were haywire. Daily. I developed cystic acne along my jaw, which was both painful & had to be medicated. I had nightmares whenever I slept. I probably don’t have to mention I was constantly tired, but I just did. Sorry. EXHAUSTED. The way I dealt with my new found chronic anxiety was to express my worries with obsessive compulsive behaviour. My ‘thing’ or my ‘tick’ was locking doors. Yes, okay, we have ALL turned around to check we have locked the door. This was something I did multiple times, daily though. If I was with my partner, I would know he wouldn’t want to turn back. So I would ask 3-4 times “are you sure I locked the door?” to try to satiate my fully fledged anxiety attack building up inside me ready to explode like a container of food microwaved for too long. At home, on my own, I would check the back door was locked roughly every hour. I would check on our two puppies about the same, convinced they would either escape, or die, probably BOTH, if I didn’t. Utterly convinced the lack of these activities would cause the worst scenario possible. Classic OCD.

Not so funnily enough I can't find a photo of my skin in the midst of being ravaged from anxiety. This gives you a good idea, though.

Not so funnily enough I can’t find a photo of my skin in the midst of being ravaged from anxiety. This gives you a good idea, though.

I visited my GP about my skin, alarmed at the severity of the acne I had developed for the second time (the first time was when my ex partner passed away. I guess my skin tells me when I’m not coping with life because I choose to ignore it). She made an off the cuff remark, & I found myself saying “actually I can barely leave the house. My anxiety is ruining my life. That’s why my skin is so bad”. The flood gates had opened. The hardest part, you have probably heard before, actually IS saying it out loud. I feared there was not something ‘legitimately’ wrong with me, & that it would just go away. Anxiety & obsessive compulsive disorder are not things to ignore until they go away. Why let yourself suffer in silence & isolation when you certainly do not have to? Step outside of your own skin & imagine yourself as a friend. What would you tell them? For me it would be, “dude WHY aren’t you giving yourself the love & treatment you so obviously need? Let’s do something about this because you deserve to be happy”. Be your own best friend & take the steps to heal yourself. You deserve it. My GP wanted to medicate me daily. Now, I have done this maybe twice before. A lot of people say it made them feel dead inside, & they would rather be sad than be nothing. I’ve never felt this. I still have the same thoughts & feelings, perhaps the edges aren’t as razor sharp as before. But isn’t that kind of what you need when you hate yourself, hate life, or are constantly petrified? I am on the medication now as I type this. It hasn’t dulled my ability to write, & pain is not necessary to be an artist despite what romanticised stories may say. I was sick like a heroin junkie coming off smack for the first three days. Vomiting, vertigo, inability to concentrate. But after those three days I stopped feeling petrified for my life & riddled with anxiety every single day. It works.

We all experience anxiety in our lives. It’s a good thing when it’s functioning in the normal way it’s supposed to. Adrenaline is your best friend in that job interview or before you have a sitting to get tattooed. It serves a purpose. What makes it so misunderstood though is it is uncontrollable. For me, when I am in a full-blown-all-out-ride-or-die attack I am convinced I am dying. My body is telling me that through the physiological changes it is producing. Unnecessary bodily functions stop. Sweat begins. Pins & needles from head to toe. The racing thoughts of “oh shit help” with the loss of ability to think rationally. These are all things that would happen if you actually WERE in a scenario where you could potentially die. It’s up there with the most horrible & frightening feelings in the world. & some experience this daily. I did.

Do you know someone who suffers from anxiety? Just be there for them. Don’t tell them to calm down. PLEASE don’t roll your eyes. They can’t help it & all they probably really need is a hand to hold & calm reassurance while they ride it out. Do you suffer from anxiety or OCD? Please, seek help. In whatever form you feel comfortable with. Do not suffer in silence & do not let it control your life. I still have attacks but they are nowhere near the regularity or severity they once were. & do not be afraid of medication. It got me through a trying time in my life & is still helping me now.

Visit any of these sites or see a GP for more info: Beyond Blue, Mind Health Connect, SANE Australia.

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